The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (The ASI) has today launched its Day Care at Home (DCAH) Service report which highlights significant positive benefits for people living with dementia and their families.
The DCAH service is a dementia-specific service delivered by ASI care staff.
It fills a critical support gap by providing one-to-one stimulation, personalised activities, and socialisation to people living with dementia while offering respite to their families for a set number of hours every week.
The emphasis on providing social and activity-based care is a defining feature of this service.
In 2023, The ASI commissioned an evaluation to assess the impact and effectiveness of the DCAH Service.
This evaluation – led by Dr Emma O’Shea at The Centre for Gerontology & Rehabilitation, University College Cork (UCC) – follows an analysis of feedback provided by DCAH service users, ASI staff, and external stakeholders.
Tadhg and Marian Kelleher use the Day Care at Home Service in Cork.
Every week, Lizimani ‘Lee’ Milanzi, a carer at The ASI visits Tadhg and Marian's home and works with Tadhg who lives with dementia.
Tadgh, who finds joy in the DCAH service, said: "The Alzheimer Society of Ireland's Day Care at Home Service is a great help to myself and my wife Marian. I enjoy when Lee from The ASI visits - we do exercises and take walks in the forest close to my home. I like the fresh air and getting out and about."
The Day Care at Home Service allows relatives caring for loved ones some respite.
Marian, Tadgh's wife said she is grateful for Lee’s support which gives her a chance to tend to the farm or take time out for herself without worry.
“Sometimes I'll go for a coffee or visit a friend and maybe do a bit of shopping. I have those hours for myself, some time out and I know Tadgh will be well supported at home,” she said.
Speaking about the evaluation of The ASI’s DCAH Service report, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD said: “The positive outcomes reported in this study reflect the dedication and care provided by The Alzheimer Society of Ireland staff in delivering the Day Care at Home service.
“Since its initial implementation during the Covid-19 pandemic, The Day Care at Home service has emerged as a vital resource for people with dementia, ensuring they receive restorative care while providing much-needed relief for their loved ones.
“Since 2021, the Government has invested over €6.5 million in Day Care at Home. Recognising the importance of supporting families affected by dementia, the Government remains committed to funding a variety of supports in this area."
Head of Operations and Community Engagement at The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Siobhan O’Connor said: “The Alzheimer Society of Ireland is thrilled to share the evaluation of our Day Care at Home Service report which shows the positive benefits that social stimulation and meaningful activities have on the overall wellbeing of people living with dementia.”
Dr Emma O’Shea at UCC, who undertook The ASI’s Day Care at Home Service evaluation with her Research Team, said: “This evaluation sought to understand the experiences and viewpoints of multiple stakeholder groups, including people with dementia, family caregivers, ASI staff and management, primary care professionals, and HSE officials.
“Day Care at Home is one of the first services to truly meet the unique and varied social care needs of people with dementia, and the respite needs of their caregivers, within the clients’ own homes and communities.
“The evaluation showed that this service adds substantial value to the dementia care landscape in Ireland, keeping people meaningfully engaged socially, and in activities that they enjoy.
“The main problem identified by the evaluation is that the need and demand for DCAH services currently far exceeds the supply.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic forced The ASI to temporarily close all its Day Care Centres and suspend vital face-to-face supports.
DCAH was a response to provide an interim alternative model of care and support to people with dementia and families.
The need for the service soon became apparent.
The DCAH service model and care approach had universal support, according to those interviewed.
This evaluation found that DCAH is highly regarded as unique, necessary, and beneficial across stakeholder groups for a wide variety of reasons:
- It caters to a previously underserved cohort of individuals for whom traditional Day Care Centres are not practical, acceptable, or beneficial.
- Takes a dyadic approach to social care, with a view to psychosocial restoration
- Supports personhood, identity and independence for the person with dementia; psychological breaks for family carers, via trust-based relationships
- Makes family care more sustainable, i.e., avoiding delaying care home admission.
The report can be accessed at alzheimer.ie