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Providing online support for dementia carers is part of new research being undertaken at Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Providing care for someone with dementia is very challenging as they often need to be provided with 24/7 care, Flinders University Caring Futures Institute Professor Lily Xiou said.

“We’re helping the carers to understand how to care for themselves as well. We know that many of these carers are elderly themselves, often husbands and wives. They also need support and care.”

An icare support group is part of a new platform where people can communicate with each other, learn and share from others’ practical experiences and be part of a community where their challenges are understood.

Improving dementia care through online support modes is one of several key projects of the Caring Futures Institute, launched by Flinders University.

“We need to promote consumer directed self-care, which means that services must be decided by the consumers, rather than the service providers,” Professor Xiou said.

The Caring Futures Institute is the first research hub in Australia fully dedicated to the study of self-care and caring solutions to transform how we care for ourselves and others, inaugural leader of the Caring Futures Institute, Professor Alison Kitson said.

The Caring Futures Institute is focused on better care across the lifespan and developing solutions with partners and end-users to deliver societal and economic benefits, she said.

“Caring is fundamental to any society but we need to do better, particularly in the context of our ageing populations, chronic illness, rising healthcare costs and the opportunities presented from advancing technology.”

Other initial projects at the Caring Futures Institute include developing evidence-backed digital apps to facilitate nutritional home cooking, digital innovations to empower heart patients of all cultures and languages in self-care, and a breakthrough early detection test on autism for children.

“A future with answers to our greatest health challenges, where the highest standard of care is available to all who need it, is not out of reach,” Professor Kitson said.