The experiences of carers in supporting a person living with dementia to participate in virtual cognitive stimulation therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is an evidence-based group intervention for people with dementia. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many existing CST groups moved virtually and this required carers of people living with dementia to assist with setting up the appropriate technology. This study aimed to explore the roles and experiences of carers in accessing virtual CST (vCST).
This qualitative study used semi-structured individual interviews, via telephone or videoconference, to explore the roles and experiences of carers. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.
Twelve family carers (age: 51-75 years) reported a range of experiences, from novice to expert knowledge in terms of accessing digital devices (mainly laptops and iPads) and connecting to Zoom. Accessing vCST provided carers an immediate application of new knowledge. Carers reported positive responses to vCST that provided their family member living with dementia with social contact and cognitive stimulation during lockdown.
Accessing vCST required carers to have an existing adequate level of technological competence in order to learn and use the Zoom platform. Adult learning principles can be used to improve carers' digital literacy required for vCST and other telehealth initiatives.