The research team produced the iCST programme (including a manual, activity workbook, and materials such as maps and dominoes) in collaboration with people with dementia, carers, health care professionals, and experts.
356 pairs of people with dementia and carers were recruited to a multi-centre randomised controlled trial (RCT). People with dementia receiving iCST reported better relationship quality with their family carer, and carers delivering iCST had better quality of life at 26 weeks. Carers who completed more sessions had fewer depressive symptoms.
Results showed that people with dementia receiving iCST did not benefit in terms of cognition or QOL, and neither was there evidence to suggest iCST improved carers depression or anxiety levels.
Enhancing the caregiving relationship through iCST is an important and meaningful outcome for people with dementia. From a clinical perspective, reduction in depressive symptoms and improved QoL of the carer by means of a low-cost, non-drug intervention are worthwhile outcomes (5)
What do these findings mean?
iCST could be a useful tool for carers and people with dementia. It provides an opportunity for dyads to spend quality time together and is an aid to communication and enhancing carer health related QoL and mood.
Given that iCST appears to have a positive effect on the caregiving relationship and carer well-being, the programme might be a useful part of personally tailored home care packages, which may help maintain people with dementia in their own home for longer (6).