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Interdisciplinary Home-bAsed Reablement Program (I-HARP)

Improving dementia outcomes through at-home care
I-HARP combines a range of proven health care strategies to help older people with dementia remain healthy and independent in their own homes.

I-HARP is a unique model of care, funded by the Australian government, that aims to help older people with dementia remain healthy and independent in their own homes.

The program combines a range of proven health care strategies into a comprehensive intervention delivered at home. I-HARP clinicians work closely with the person with dementia and their carer to provide client-directed and client-centred care and support. 

Pilot study outcomes

A pilot study was conducted between 2015 and 2016 with 18 people with dementia and their carers, that showed potential benefits in terms of individual goal attainment, mobility, independence, well-being and confidence. Participants commented that focusing on their abilities was reassuring and gave them a feeling of hope and independence. Reasons for success of the program were attributed to the one-on-one, hands-on approach; continuity and regularity of visits; and specialised yet easy-to-follow suggestions from each clinician. 

Within 12 months of taking part in the study participants had fewer falls, fewer hospital admissions and none had moved into residential aged care. 

FAQs for participants

The program is delivered over a four month period by an occupational therapist and registered nurse with the involvement of other allied health professionals as needed.

I-HARP includes a maximum of 12 home visits for the person with dementia, three information and support sessions for their carer, and provision of minor home modifications/assistive devices to improve home safety and reduce the risk of falls.

We are looking for volunteers to take part in the study who are:

  • aged 60 years or older
  • living at home
  • diagnosed with mild to moderate stage dementia
  • receiving some form of help from others (eg, family, friend or neighbour)
  • under the care of (or eligible to receive care from) one of our partner organisations (BaptistCare, Anglicare, Concord Hospital, Canterbury Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital).

Taking part in the study involves a 12-month commitment from the person with dementia and their carer. Participants will take part in three assessments during their involvement in the study:

  1. An initial assessment to evaluate independent living skills, mobility, memory, mood, home safety and carer’s wellbeing.
  2. A follow-up assessment at four months to evaluate the effectiveness of I-HARP.
  3. Another follow-up assessment at 12 months to evaluate whether any improvements from I-HARP are maintained in the longer term.

In addition, a short monthly phone call with each carer will be made to monitor the use of aged care and/or health care services.

To compare the new program to existing programs, all participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. Half of the participants will take part in the four month I-HARP program, while the other half will continue to receive their standard health care.

Participants in the standard care group will receive two movie vouchers for themselves and their carer every three months, which is a small gesture of appreciation for their involvement. All participants will receive a summary of the research findings at the conclusion of the study.

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