Background The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) intervention comprises an evidence-based comprehensive tool incorporated into a person-centred process of assessment and support for carers of people with life-limiting conditions. It was developed from a programme of research, subsequently implemented across practice settings (community, hospital, hospice). The CSNAT’s impact nationally and internationally is substantial: 87 UK services are licensed to use the intervention, the tool has been translated into 13 languages, and is used in 27 countries.
Aim To draw on the CSNAT intervention programme of research to illustrate why carer assessment needs to be comprehensive and person-centred, how this represents a change in practice, what difference it makes, and how this change in practice can be implemented.
Methods/results We will draw on three aspects of the research programme:
An overview of development, validation and initial implementation of the CSNAT: a qualitative study with 75 bereaved carers (01/2008–12/2008) identified the 14 support need domains that constitute the CSNAT; a survey of 225 current carers (04/2009–06/2010) established CSNAT’s content and criterion validity; implementation studies with 29 practitioners in two hospices (08/2010–12/2010; 01/2011–04/2012) identified use of the CSNAT as a significant change in practice and the importance of adopting a person–centred approach.
Two cluster randomised control trials of the CSNAT intervention (UK: n=681 carers; 05/2012–11/2014); (Australia: n=322 carers; 03/2012–02/2014) showed a reduction in caregiver strain in current carers, and lower early grief and better physical/mental health in bereavement.
A national implementation study in 36 organisations (11/2013–09/2014) and a hospice case study (11/2015–12/2016) provided key insights into practitioners’ training needs and vital organisational structures/processes needed to embed the intervention in practice, to underpin a CSNAT intervention Training and Implementation Toolkit.
Conclusion This paper identifies the evidence base for the CSNAT intervention and lessons learnt about delivery of comprehensive, person-centred carer assessment and support for family carers.
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