Mind the gap: Comparing perspectives of service providers to the needs of people with dementia living in the community

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Dementia, Ahead of Print.
IntroductionResearch with West Australian people with dementia and their carers living in the community identified that they have a diverse range of needs. However, little is known about the needs of people with dementia and their carers from the perspectives of service providers who provide formal support. This study aimed to investigate the needs of people with dementia and their carers living in the community from the perspectives of service providers, and compare this to service recipients.MethodThis interpretive descriptive study used focus groups to collect qualitative data from service providers (N = 10). Data were analysed using a hybrid inductive–deductive approach to compare the needs identified by service providers to those identified by people with dementia and their carers.ResultsThree major themes were identified: (i) services and supports required by people with dementia and their carers should be flexible, tailored, and equitable; (ii) building capacity to support carers and people with dementia; and (iii) systems designed to care were fragmented and difficult to navigate. Service providers prioritise needs that are limited to their current capacity to provide in contrast to the holistic needs of people with dementia and their carers.ConclusionThere was poor alignment between the perceived needs of people with dementia and their carers and the needs prioritised by service providers in the West Australian community. This gap may reduce the ability of services to effectively support people with dementia to remain living in the community.

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