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What a difference a break makes

22nd November 2023

Research lead Gill Toms and research officer Louise Prendergast, funded by Health and Care Research Wales and supported by the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CADR) and the Developing Evidence Enriched Practice (DEEP) programme, explored the outcomes of a day support service called TRIO provided by the Shared Lives organisation.

The study revealed that providing a break that included meaningful activities and social interaction significantly enhanced the wellbeing of people living with dementia and also afforded their unpaid carers a much needed break.

TRIO provides unpaid carers and ‘citizens’ (TRIO’s name for people living with dementia) with a break. With TRIO people living with dementia are paired up based on similar interests and then matched with one of the specially trained workers within the TRIO service, called companions. The companions then spend time with the citizens doing what they enjoy, whether that is arranging outside activities or having a cup of tea at home.

Louise Prendergast said:

“What was important to the citizens was the social interaction, meaningful activities and being part of the community. All these things contributed to the improvement of their wellbeing and allowed people living with dementia to build new friendships and new connections.”

Gill Toms added:

“Their carers then had peace of mind – they trusted the TRIO companion to take good care of the person they were supporting, which allowed them to concentrate on themselves and get a well-deserved break.”

Kathryn Morgan, Wales Development Manager at Shared Lives, said:

“We at Shared Lives were delighted to work with Gill and Louise to study the benefits of the TRIO service. This study has enabled us to highlight that short breaks benefit everyone: they give time, space and enable people to feel connected and valued, to have a sense of belonging, enjoy meaningful activities and support their own wellbeing. The TRIO companions also reported high levels of satisfaction with their work.”

CADR has created a short animation which showcases the findings from this research and how beneficial short breaks can be for both unpaid carers and the people they support.

The Welsh Government is committed to supporting unpaid carers, and supporting a life alongside caring is one of four national priorities for unpaid carers, as detailed in the National Strategy for Unpaid Carers in Wales.

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