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Showcasing the COPE program

COPE focuses on what the person with dementia can do, not on what they can’t.

COPE, Care Of People with dementia in their Environments, is a home-based, multi-visit, tailored program designed to address the symptoms of dementia with the aim of improving the wellbeing of people with dementia and their carers.

Specially trained occupational therapists and nurses consult with people with dementia and their carers to deliver carer training, activity engagement and strategies to modify communication, behaviour and the environment.

COPE is designed for people with dementia who live at home and have experienced changes in functional ability or behaviour. The program also involves 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.

COPE intervention

The COPE intervention is delivered in three phases:

Phase 1: The occupational therapist identifies roles, habits, interests, abilities and carer concerns. The nurse provides carer with information including, helping identify and monitor common concerns about changed behaviours or decreased functional ability.

Phase 2: The occupational therapist trains the carer to:

  • modify the home environment, daily activities and communication to support the person with dementia’s capabilities;
  • use problem solving; and,
  • 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.

Phase 3: The occupational therapist works with the carer to develop strategies for the future.

Find a COPE Therapist

Visit the COPE website to see if there is a trained COPE therapist in your area.

COPE achievements

The COPE Australia Research Project ran from 2016-2019 and was led by Professor Lindy Clemson (University of Sydney) and Associate Professor Kate Laver (Flinders University). Results show Australians with dementia who received the program became more engaged in activities. Care partners and families reported they were better able to care for the person with dementia. Cost benefit analysis showed the program can deliver societal and economic gains to the Australian health and aged care system.

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.