What is the COPE Program?

Care of People with Dementia in their Environments, the COPE program, is designed to enhance the well-being and quality of life of both the individual with dementia and family carer, including by delaying nursing home placement.

Who is COPE for?

COPE is designed for people with dementia who:

  • Live at home; and
  • have experienced changes in functional ability or behaviour

AND a family member, friend or neighbour who:

  • provides care or support for the person with dementia; and
  • is experiencing stress or challenges with their carer role.

Both the person with dementia and the family carer are engaged in and should be available for the duration of the COPE program.

What is the COPE Program?

COPE delivers a multi-session intervention over three phases, provided by specifically COPE trained occupational therapists and nurses, providing families with education and important skills to prevent and manage challenging care problems at home.

  • Assessment:The occupational therapist identifies roles, habits, interests, abilities and carer concerns.

The nurse provides carer with information including, helping identify and monitor common health-related concerns related to changed behaviours or decreased functional ability.

  • Intervention: The occupational therapist trains the carer to:
    1. modify the home environment, daily activities and communication to support the person with dementia’s capabilities,
    2. use problem solving; and,
    3. lower carer stress.

For each targeted problem, a written COPE prescription is provided describing the problem, what the carer would like to change and specific strategies to address this.

  • Generalisability:The occupational therapist works with the carer to develop strategies for the future. 

What’s Involved

The COPE intervention involves:

  • carer education about the disease and preserved capabilities of the person with dementia (i.e. what the person can still do);
  • carer training in communication techniques, behaviour management, management of carer’s own stress and simplification of tasks;
  • home safety assessment, including referral for home modification when appropriate; and,
  • assessment of the person with dementia to rule out underlying conditions that may contribute to changed behaviours and other care challenges.

COPE was developed in the US by Professor Laura Gitlin (Drexel University) and A/Professor Catherine Piersol (Thomas Jefferson University) and was translated for use in Australia as part of the COPE Australia research project

Click for more information on COPE research.

Click here find out about adopting the COPE program in your organisation.

Click here to find out about COPE training.

Want to know more? Email [email protected]