Community respite service utilisation and dementia care: a review of literature

Main Article Content

Cherrie J Wakefield


caregiver burden, dementia, respite, community


Objective: To explore the detrimental effects of caregiver burden, in relation to caregivers of people with dementia, and highlight caregiver burden as an emerging health care problem. The purpose of the literature review is to inform health care professionals of the barriers to utilizing community respite services by caregivers and discuss the significance of respite services to caregivers of people with dementia. 

Background: Dementia is one of the leading contributors to burden of disease and disability. Increasing numbers of spouse and family caregivers play crucial roles in providing support for people with dementia enabling them to continue living in the community. Caregiver burden occurs in individuals when the demands of caregiving exceeds their resources. Community respite services are valuable resources which provide individuals a break from their caregiving role.

Study design and methods: The literature review will draw attention to caregivers of people living with dementia in the community and their utilization of community respite services. The target audience are health care professionals in multidisciplinary community teams composed of clinicians, educators, managers, administrators, and researchers. Seven online databases were accessed to search the following terms of caregiver burden, dementia care and community respite along with specific inclusion criteria. As a result, 26 scholarly articles were reviewed for the purpose of this literature review.

Results: There are several community respite services, which help minimize the incidence of caregiver burden, available to caregivers of people with dementia but there are many barriers which affect utilization of these services. Some of these barriers include accessibility of information on respite services, flexibility and affordability of respite services, and the caregiver’s inability to recognize their need for respite services.

Discussion: Health care professionals could assist caregivers to better utilize community respite services by performing through assessments on both people with dementia and their caregivers. As a result of these assessments, potential barriers to community respite service utilization could be identified.

Implications for research: Further research is required to investigate the specific types of respite service caregivers need and which respite services have been most successful for caregivers. This knowledge can assist HCPs in improving utilization rates of respite services and inform health systems on where to focus the funding of their community resources for PWD and their caregivers.

Conclusion: Community respite services are essential to minimizing the incidence of caregiver burden. Health care professionals should recognize these barriers to respite service use and implement strategies to increase service utilization.

What is already known about the topic

  • Dementia is an emerging health care problem leading to caregiver burden amongst caregivers.

  • Community respite services help minimize the occurrence of caregiver burden.

What this paper adds

  • Contributes to the existing knowledge of caregiver burden amongst Australian health care professionals.

  • Identifies several barriers to caregiver respite service utilization.

  • Emphasizes the significance of respite services to caregivers of people with dementia.

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