Supporting Older Carers of People with a Disability: An Evaluation of a Respite Care Program in Western Australia

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science




Cockram, J. E., Hancock, P. J., & Jarvis, J. A. (2007). Supporting Older Carers of People with a Disability: an evaluation of a respite care program in Western Australia. Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management, 2(2), 58-62. Available here.


Objective: To conduct a formative and summative evaluation of a respite care program for carers aged 65 and over (50 if Indigenous) who care for a person with a permanent disability aged 18 years or older. Design: The Older Carers' Program (OCP) evaluation was both a process and outcome evaluation. As part of the evaluation semi-structured in-depth interviews with 62 carers, and four program coordinators were conducted. Auditing of program documents also formed a major component of the research design. Explicit quantitative measures took the form of an auditing process that focussed on the number of individual plans on record, documented visits to carers and analysis of the OCP volunteer data base. Setting: The State of Western Australia, Australia. Results: The participants interviewed perceived that the OCP had successfully attained its aims and objectives and provided valued support for older carers of people with disabilities in the community. Implementation of care plans was highly valued by most carers and successfully allayed their concerns for the long-term future of care recipients. Both respite care and care plans resulted in increased quality of life for the majority of carers as well as decreased stress levels and increased support of participants to continue their care giving role. Conclusions: The OCP is one of only a few such programs in the Australasian region. At a policy level, it is clear that the OCP has met a unique and growing need in the community and provided valued support for older carers of people with disabilities. The OCP for people with disabilities provides a model for future care recipient programs in ageing populations.