Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC)

Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) is a unique collaboration of health, research, aged care and advocacy organisations working together to improve the lives of older people.

Our vision is that older people received the best possible care and support through services, programs and policies which support health and optimal quality of life.

Logos of MARC partner organisations


This project aimed to pilot the START program in Australia using video-conferencing to allow carers to access the program in their own homes. Being a carer for a person living with dementia can be challenging and programs are needed to provide carers with support. Strategies for Relatives (START) is an 8 -week program that was originally developed in the UK where it was shown to be effective in improving carers’ wellbeing. However, carers often have limited time and opportunity to attend programs like START when they require carers to attend in person. This is especially so for people living in regional or remote areas.


  1. Adapting the existing START program for the Australian healthcare context
  2. Piloting the START program with carers via online video-conferencing technology


NARI, Melbourne Health, Dementia Australia, The University of Melbourne, Department of Health and Human Services

Themes & Key Findings

  • START online was effective at improving carer’s coping skills and reducing conflict
  • The online delivery was acceptable to carers
  • Most carers felt the program was too structured, preferring it to be more flexible, personalised & adaptable to their needs and goals
  • Most carers believed it would be of greatest benefit if offered earlier in the caregiving journey


  • Of the 20 carers who participated, 12 were females and 8 were males.
  • Most carers had been providing care to their family member for 2.8 years.
  • Most carers rated themselves as highly experienced and confident in using technology.
  • After the 8-week START program, the care relationship improved and carers learned to use more effective coping skills.
  • Most of the feedback about Zoom was positive and carers enjoyed different aspects of the program.
  • Most carers believed that video-conferencing (Zoom) was an acceptable way to take part in the START program.

Future Work

The findings of this study will be used to inform the development and delivery of support programs. This includes suitable ways to modify the START program to make it more flexible to individual carers’ needs.

Completed January 2019

START Project Summary Infographic