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Dementia Education Online

Module 4: Care Partnerships with Families across Dementia Care Settings



Care partnerships are described as dynamic, therapeutic relationships that require articulation of common goals with exchange of knowledge and clarification of care roles. In dementia care the partnership roles and responsibilities of family and staff are conceptualised along the trajectory of changes as the abilities of the person with dementia become increasingly compromised. [1] Family in this module refers to a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation, such as in this case a person with dementia.

As recognition of the importance of the family carer role in the process of caring for the person with dementia increases, so too does the requirement to engage families as decision makers in care. Family carers and health professionals have also identified the need for increased understanding of the complexities of dementia care earlier in the trajectory so that, as the condition progresses, they can work as partners with health professionals to access the multiple combinations of service support and delivery across care settings.

This means that, when formal care intervention is inevitably required, staff are able to productively work with family carers who are informed, understand their role as advocates, and can confidently make complex decisions about care for their relative. The benefits for staff working with family carers as partners in care include reduced role strain and care burden and positive impacts for staff retention. For families, the benefit of care partnerships includes greater satisfaction with care and reduced stress. [1,2]


The aims of this learning module are to:

  • Increase understanding of the notion of care partnerships
  • Provide a framework for constructing family-staff care partnerships
  • Identify the multiple combinations of service delivery and support across the Australian aged care system
  • Describe the role of care partnerships in engaging families as consumers in care.


By the end of this learning module, participants will have an awareness and understanding of the following:

  • The importance of care partnerships in dementia care
  • A framework for constructing family-staff care partnerships
  • The services available to the person with dementia and family carers within the Australian aged care system
  • The needs of family carers specific to dementia care
  • The role of partnerships in engaging families as consumers in care.

How to Complete this Module

To complete this learning module, work through the activities associated with the four content focus areas and complete the learning activities associated with each of the content areas.

References have been provided. However, journal publications were unable to be attached due to copyright conditions. Wherever possible, direct access to Internet resources has been provided. Several learning activities have also been provided to facilitate your learning about these topic areas.

Content Focus Area

This learning module is built around four content focus areas:

  1. Defining family-staff care partnerships
  2. How to construct family-staff care partnerships
  3. Family carers and the aged care system
  4. Family carers, care partnerships and consumer engagement in care.

Resources and References

  1. Maas, ML, Reed, D, Park, M, Specht, JP, Schutte, D, Kelly, LS, Swanson, EA, Tripp-Reimer, T & Buckwalter, KC, 2004, 'Outcomes of family involvement in care intervention for caregivers of individuals with dementia', Nursing Research, 53(2), pp. 76-86.

  2. Nolan, M, Bauer, M & Nay, R, 2009, 'Supporting family carers: implementing a relational approach', in R Nay & S Garratt (eds), Nursing Older People: Issues and Innovations, Elsevier, Sydney.

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