There has been very little empirical research in Australia that examines the role of the family caregiver of the person with dementia in residential care. Nevertheless, both in Australia and overseas, researchers and clinicians recognise that there are benefits for staff, families and their relative with dementia from increased family accessibility, involvement and engagement as clients in care. Client partnerships are defined as dynamic, therapeutic relationships with health professionals that require articulation of common care goals, the exchange of knowledge and clarification of care roles. In the later stages of the dementia syndrome as the person with dementia experiences profound, deteriorating cognitive effects, the focus inevitably shifts to family caregivers to fulfil the surrogate role in providing information about their relatives’ individual care needs. The aim of this thesis is to explore family involvement as partners with staff in the care of their relative with dementia in residential care. This was achieved by implementing and evaluating a family-staff partnership model of care based on negotiation of therapeutic activities for the person with dementia. The study is a partial replication of an intervention conducted in United States of America (US) with successful care outcomes. The Family Involvement in Care (FIC) education intervention and partnership model has evolved from research over the period of two decades, led by Meridean Maas. Her research demonstrated that, through education and contractual partnership, caregiving arrangements between family and staff not only improved care for the person with dementia, but also resulted in more harmonious and productive partnerships which benefit all.
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