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Social exclusion

The following resources examine the impact of caring on social inclusion and participation.

Click on the title of any resource to find out more about the source of the information such as the type of reference, ISBN/ISSN, publication year, keywords. A number of these fields can be used to find further resources i.e. with the same keywords, or by the same author using the links on the right-hand side and within the Key Information box.

You can also click on an author's name in the list below to find further resources by that author, and use the DOI and other links to access the original source material (note: some source materials require subscription or permission to access).
 

Risk of Depression in Family Caregivers: Unintended Consequence of COVID-19

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is likely to exacerbate the symptoms of poor mental health in family caregivers; Aims: To investigate whether rates of depressive symptomatology increased in caregivers during COVID-19 and whether the unintended consequences of health protective measures, i.e., social isolation, exacerbated this risk. Another aim was to see if caregivers accessed any online/phone psychological support during COVID. Method: Data (1349 caregivers; 6178 non-caregivers) was extracted from Understanding Society, a UK population-level data-set. The General Health Questionnaire cut-off scores identified those who are likely to have depression.; Results: After adjustment for confounding caregivers had a higher risk of having depressive symptoms compared with non-caregivers, odds ratio (OR) = 1.22 (95% CI 1.05–1.40, P = 0.008) evidenced by higher levels of depression pre-COVID-19 (16.7% caregivers v. 12.1% non-caregivers) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (21.6% caregivers v. 17.9% non-caregivers), respectively. Further, higher levels of loneliness increased the risk of depression symptoms almost four-fold in caregivers, OR = 3.85 (95% 95% CI 3.08–4.85, P < 0.001), whereas accessing therapy attenuated the risk of depression (43%). A total of 60% of caregivers with depression symptoms reported not accessing any therapeutic support (for example online or face to face) during the COVID-19 pandemic.; Conclusions: COVID-19 has had a negative impact on family caregivers’ mental health with loneliness a significant contributor to depressive symptomatology. However, despite these detriments in mental health, the majority of caregivers do not access any online or phone psychiatric support. Finally, psychiatric services and healthcare professionals should aim to focus on reducing feelings of loneliness to support at-risk caregivers.

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Covid-19 and the Impact on Family Carers

This paper will examine key rapid surveys and research studies which have been conducted by various researchers and organisations both in a specifically Irish context and internationally.

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The relationship between engagement in online support groups and social isolation among military caregivers: Longitudinal questionnaire study

Background: There is a lack of research on the effectiveness of online peer support groups for reducing social isolation and depressive symptoms among caregivers, and previous research has mixed results. Objective: This study aimed to test whether military caregivers who joined a new online peer support community or engaged with an existing online community experienced decreased perceived social isolation and improved depressive symptoms over 6 months. Methods: We conducted a longitudinal study of 212 military caregivers who had newly joined an online community and those who were members of other military caregiver groups. Multiple indicators of perceived social isolation and depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and at 3 and 6 months. Results: Compared with caregivers in the comparison group, caregivers who joined the new group experienced less perceived social isolation at 3 months (eg, number of caregivers in social network [unstandardized regression coefficients] b=0.49, SE 0.19, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.02), but this effect did not persist at 6 months. Those who engaged more with new or existing groups experienced less perceived social isolation over time (eg, number of caregivers in social network b=0.18, SE 0.06, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.27), and this relationship was mediated by increased interactions with other military caregivers (95% CI 0.0046 to 0.0961). Engagement with an online group was not associated with improvements in depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Online communities might help reduce social isolation when members engage with the group, but more intensive treatment is needed to improve depressive symptoms. 

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Trajectory of psychosocial measures amongst informal caregivers: Case-controlled study of 1375 informal caregivers from the English longitudinal Study of ageing

Informal caregivers provide vital support for older adults living in the community with chronic illnesses. The purpose of this study was to assess the psychosocial status of informal caregivers of community-dwelling adults over an eight-year period. Informal caregivers of adult care-recipients were identified from Wave 1 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) cohort. Multivariate regression analysis models were constructed to assess the association between participant's psychosocial characteristics and informal caregiving. Multilevel modelling explored the psychosocial changes between caregivers and non-caregivers over eight years. 1375 informal caregivers and 2750 age-matched non-caregivers were analyzed. Self-reported loneliness (Odd Ratio (OR): 0.26; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.01-0.51) and relationship status (OR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.16-0.46) were independently associated with caregiving. Caregivers were more socially isolated with less holidaying abroad (OR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.35-0.66), attendance to church (OR: 0.30; 95% CI: 0.11-0.49), or charity groups (OR: 0.35; 95% CI: 0.14-0.55). On multilevel analysis, over time (eight-years), caregivers reported greater loneliness (p < 0.01), change in relationship status (p = 0.01) and reduced control, autonomy, and pleasure (p ≤ 0.01) compared to non-caregivers. Given the deleterious effects caregiving can place on health and wellbeing, further interventions are required to improve these psychosocial factors.

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Young carers research project: Summary of findings

A number of recent studies have highlighted the challenges facing young people as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like their peers, young people aged 16 to 25 who are caring for a family member or friend have experienced significant change and instability during this unprecedented period.

During the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown, Carers NSW conducted online interviews and focus groups with 28 young carers to better understand their experiences and support needs and to learn how to engage with them more effectively. This summary report includes powerful stories of young people caring for loved ones while juggling study, work, family and social responsibilities.

This report shares insights from young carers across a range of themes, including education, employment, service provision and relationships, embedding the young carer voice throughout. These insights will help to inform ongoing and future service provision, research and systemic advocacy conducted by Carers NSW and our partners and stakeholders.

A review of existing research literature (see Appendix I) and internal consultation with Carers NSW staff working with young carers, conducted in the scoping phase of this project, identified that young carers are often isolated and experience socio-economic disadvantage as a result of their caring responsibilities. However, they are often reluctant to disclose their caring responsibilities to others and commonly perceive their own needs and experiences as less important than those of the person they care for. These factors can make it more difficult for researchers and others to successfully engage with young carers.

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Does the experience of caring for a severely disabled relative impact advance care planning? A qualitative study of caregivers of disabled patients

The aging of the Taiwanese population has become a major issue. Previous research has focused on the burden and stress faced by caregivers, but has not explored how the experience of these caregivers influences decisions of advance care planning (ACP). Semi-structured and in-depth interviews were conducted. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify important themes. Five themes and fourteen sub-themes were identified: (1) Past experiences: patient wishes, professional recommendations, and expectation about disease progress; (2) Impact of care on family members: positive affirmation, open-minded life, social isolation and health effects, and financial and life planning effects; (3) Attitude toward life: not forcing to stay, and not becoming a burden, (4) Expected proxy dilemmas: torment between doing or not, seeing the extension of suffering and toil, and remorse and self-blame; (5) Expectation of end of life (EOL) care: caregiver’s experience and EOL care decisions, and practicality of EOL decision making. After making multiple medical decisions for their disabled relatives, caregivers are able to calmly face their own medical decisions, and “not becoming a burden” is their primary consideration. It’s suggested that implementation of shared decision-making on medical care for patients with chronic disability will not only improve the quality of their medical care but also reduce the development of remorse and guilty feelings of caregivers after making medical decisions. 

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Experiences and support needs of informal caregivers of people with multimorbidity: a scoping literature review

Objective: Describe and synthesise existing published research on the experiences and support needs of informal caregivers of people with multimorbidity. Design: Scoping literature review. Primary database and secondary searches for qualitative and/or quantitative English-language research with an explicit focus on informal carers of people with multimorbidity (no date restrictions). Quality appraisal of included papers. Thematic analysis to identify key themes in the findings of included papers. Results: Thirty-four papers (reporting on 27 studies) were eligible for inclusion, the majority of which were rated good quality, and almost half of which were published from 2015 onwards. The review highlights common difficulties for informal carers of people with multiple chronic illnesses, including practical challenges related to managing multiple health care teams, appointments, medications and side effects, and psychosocial challenges including high levels of psychological symptomatology and reduced social connectedness. Current gaps in the literature include very few studies of interventions which may help support this caregiver group. Conclusion: Interest in this research area is burgeoning. Future work might fruitfully examine the potential benefits of audio-recorded health care consultations, and digitally delivered psychosocial interventions such as online peer support forums, for supporting and enhancing the caring activities and wellbeing of this caregiver group. 

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Are Young Carers Less Engaged in School than Non-Carers? Evidence from a Representative Australian Study

Evidence suggests that young carers are less likely to complete or do well in secondary school compared with young people without caring responsibilities. Positive engagement at school is an important correlate of school outcomes, yet quantitative evidence on the factors contributing to young carers’ school engagement is lacking. Drawing on the results of a national school-based survey of Australian children aged 8–14 years (N = 5220) in which about 9% of the sample identified as carers (N = 465), this paper compares the school engagement of non-carers, young carers of a family member with disability, and young carers of a family member with a mental illness or using alcohol/drugs. The analysis shows that school engagement of young carers of people with disability is not significantly different from that of non-carers, but school engagement among young carers of people with a mental illness or using alcohol/drugs is significantly lower. Among this latter group, young carers who are themselves with disability report particularly low levels of engagement. The study concludes that improved support focused on young carers of people with a mental illness or using alcohol/drugs is needed to improve their school engagement. 

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What is an older husband's experience of caring for his wife who has dementia?

A significant number of informal carers look after people who have dementia. Women's caring experiences are well documented. However, a substantially smaller amount of research exists specifically investigating the male carer perspective. This literature review explores older husbands' experiences of caring for their wives who have dementia. The findings suggest that husbands are committed to their caring role but can feel socially isolated. The caring role of older men has altered the dynamic in the marriage. Husbands continue to show commitment towards their spouses but feel that male-only support groups could offer some respite from their responsibilities. Nurses need to take time to listen to husbands' experiences, offering emotional support and signposting them to other services. Further research on the long-term effects and support needs of older male carers is needed.

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I becomes we, but where is me? The unity-division paradox when caring for a relative with dementia: A qualitative study

Background: The number of older people living with dementia is increasing. Admiral Nurses work with these individuals and their families in the UK to manage challenges associated with the condition, providing guidance, advice and reassurance, alongside practical solutions.; Aim: To explore the input of Admiral Nurses as part of people's journey to becoming and being a carer for someone with dementia.; Design: A qualitative study was conducted to describe and understand how Admiral Nurses are experienced and encountered by carers as part of their narrative around supporting a relative with dementia.; Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 carers between November 2017-April 2018. They lasted between 45 and 90 min. Thematic analysis was used to interpret data.; Findings: An overarching concept of "the unity-division paradox" was derived from the data. This highlights the complex interchange between the carer with (a) the person with dementia, (b) other individuals and (c) external services. Such interactions can make carers feel part of a larger network (unity) but also as if they are on their own, fighting on behalf of the person with dementia (division). This concept was underpinned by the following themes: (a) I becomes we; (b) My private world is encroached by dementia; (c) I'm left navigating an unwieldy system; (d) Are you with or against us?; and (e) Recreating boundaries to rediscover me.; Conclusion: The identity and unique characteristics and interests of those caring for a person with dementia may be lost as they encounter tensions associated with the unity-division paradox. Admiral Nurses can help carers feel less alone in managing internal and external struggles by supporting them to do their best for a loved one with dementia.; Implications For Practice: Understanding carers' experience and supporting their work may help to increase and sustain their capacity to provide care.

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“Ours is the Strangest Situation, Ours is Different from Most Peoples”: Spousal Caregiver Perspectives on the Complex Challenges of Dementia Caregiving in Late-Life Marriage

The relationship between the person with dementia with family caregivers is a key factor in maintaining a sense of self and personhood. Spousal caregiving in particular can create a world of shared meaning, and in the context of the presence of cognitive decline in one spouse, couple hood is essential to a full understanding of how spouses live with and respond to the impact of dementia. While much research has focused on the strengths of long-term married couples caring for a spouse with dementia, there is currently little research on how dementia impacts couples in late-life marriage. This qualitative case study focusses on two female caregivers in late-life marriages negotiating the challenges of caregiving for a spouse with dementia. Spouse 1 returned to live with her ex-husband in order to care for him through his dementia journey and they recently remarried. Spouse 2 married a close friend of the family prior to his dementia diagnosis. While participant shared perspectives include: (1) family dynamics, (2) isolation, (3) financial concerns, and (4) acceptance of their role in their spouse’s dementia journey, their long-term outlooks are divergent due to the complexity of their motives for entering in to late-life marriage. 

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Family caregivers for cancer patients

Non formal, especially family caregivers are the most vital support for cancer patients in their healing process. However, caregivers are the least known, informed, and researched of all groups of people surrounding cancer patients. Ten family members are individually interviewed on their phenomenal experience in caring for cancer patients. Common themes that emerged from the interviews include financial, social emotions, and physical challenges. Financial problems rooted from unemployment as caregivers have to spent time looking after their sick family members. Social emotional problems included perception from society on their unemployment and family relationship issues. Caregivers also experienced physical strains as they put aside their well being in caring for others. However, caregivers have their own coping skills which included positive outlook and family support. Understanding of caregivers experiences is important for mental health professionals, medical team attending to the patients, and the public at large. Results of this study suggests further assistance and guidance for caregivers in carrying their responsibilities.

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Authenticity, ambivalence and recognition in caring at the end of life and beyond

Informal caring at the end of life is often a fraught experience that extends well beyond the death of the person receiving care. However, analyses of informal carers' experiences are frequently demarcated relative to death, for example in relation to anticipatory grief (pre-death) or grief in bereavement (post-death). In contrast to this tendency to epistemologically split pre- and post-death experiences, we analyse informal caring across two separate qualitative interviews with 15 informal carers in one metropolitan city in Australia—one before and one after the death of the person for whom they cared. In doing so, we focus on accounts of care across dying and bereavement including: the evolving ambivalence of carers’ social relations at the end of life and beyond; dying and death as a challenge to the ideal of authenticity; and, the potential for misrecognition and social estrangement in caring relations at the end of life. We draw on social theory addressing the themes of ambivalence, authenticity and recognition to enhance our understanding of caring as a social practice that occurs across dying and bereavement, rather than as structured primarily by the context of one or the other. 

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Social correlates of mental health in gastrointestinal cancer patients and their family caregivers: Exploring the role of loneliness

Purpose: The present study examined the degree to which loneliness mediated the influence of negative (social constraints) and positive (emotional support) relationship qualities on the global mental health of advanced gastrointestinal (GI) cancer patients and their family caregivers. Methods: Fifty patient-caregiver dyads completed measures assessing social constraints (e.g., avoidance, criticism) from the other dyad members, emotional support from others, loneliness, and global mental health. Structural equation modeling was used to examine individual models, and Actor-Partner Interdependence Mediation Modeling was used to examine dyadic associations. Results: Individual path analyses for patients and caregivers demonstrated that emotional support had a significant indirect effect on mental health through loneliness (Bs = 0.32 and 0.30, respectively), but no associations were found between social constraints and mental health. In dyadic analyses, participants' loneliness and mental health were not significantly related to their partner's emotional support, loneliness, or mental health (Bs = - 0.18 to 0.18). Conclusions: Findings suggest that for advanced GI cancer patients and caregivers, emotional support from others alleviates feelings of loneliness, which may lead to better mental health. However, the benefits of emotional support appear to be primarily intrapersonal rather than interpersonal in nature. Additionally, participants endorsed low levels of social constraints, which might explain their lack of relation to loneliness and mental health. Continued examination of interdependence in social processes between cancer patients and caregivers will inform intervention development. 

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Health of Carers of Young People with Early Psychosis: A Biopsychosocial Approach

Despite widespread recognition of the usefulness of a biopsychosocial approach in social work, there are limited studies exploring how social workers can use this approach to support the health and wellbeing of carers of young people with first episode psychosis (FEP). Validated questionnaires and anthropometric measures were used to assess the physical health and wellbeing of 42 carers of young people with FEP. Carers had moderate levels of negative caregiving consequences, quality of life, and health status. More than half (52.4%) of carers were experiencing social isolation. Many carers were overweight (78.6%), had a high risk for type 2 diabetes (39.0%), and had hypertension (33.3%). Practical implications of a biopsychosocial approach to social work that supports both clients and their carers are discussed. Social workers can better utilise the biopsychosocial approach in working with young people with first episode psychosis and their carers. Holistic care using a biopsychosocial approach should support individuals and their families in both physical and mental health. Social workers can further support the health and wellbeing of carers by collaborating with medical and other allied health colleagues within multidisciplinary teams, and by referring carers with physical health problems to general practitioners.

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End-of-Life Preparations Among LGBT Older Canadian Adults: The Missing Conversations

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) older adults are more likely than their heterosexual peers to age with limited support in stigmatizing environments often poorly served by traditional social services challenging their preparedness for end of life. Fourteen focus groups and three individual interviews were conducted in five Canadian cities with gay/bisexual men (5 groups 40 participants), lesbian/bisexual women (5 groups 29 participants), and transgender persons (3 interviews, 4 groups 24 participants). Four superordinate themes were identified: (a) motivators and obstacles, (b) relationship concerns, (c) dynamics of LGBT culture and lives, and (d) institutional concerns. Several pressing issues emerged including depression and isolation (more common among gay and bisexual men), financial/class issues (lesbian and bisexual women), and uncomfortable interactions with health-care providers (transgender participants). These findings highlight the challenges and complexities in end-of-life preparation within LGBT communities.

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A forgotten Army: Coping as a carer

Unpaid carers are the backbone of our society who often go unrecognised for their dedication and compassion. They face a range of challenges as they attempt to juggle their work-life-care responsibilities. That’s why we decided to commission YouGov to conduct a UK-wide research project focused on identifying gaps in support and sought to understand the views of unpaid carers.

Key findings

The impacts of loneliness, poor mental and physical health, financial worries and a lack of flexibility to learn or train are placing unpaid carers under increasing strain.

  • Two thirds (64%) of carers were most likely to feel the effect of caring on their social life, causing loneliness, which most commonly manifested as a result of having less time to themselves (48%), socialising less (47%) and generally having less contact with others (41%).
  • The next most common impact was mental ill health (49%). This included increased stress (42%), anxiety (33%) and depression (27%).
  • Almost half (45%) mentioned impacts that caring had on their family life, most notably spending less time with family.
  • Two in five carers reported an impact of caring on their physical health, most often mentioning tiredness (35%), trouble in sleeping (28%) and reduced fitness (20%).
  • More than two in five (44%) unpaid carers noted the impact of caring on their financial situation. The qualitative phase of the research also revealed many hidden costs of caring, including paying for medical supplies and transport to and from appointments.
  • Three in ten unpaid carers aged 16-34 said that their education or training had been affected.

When carers were asked about their support needs, a sizable majority (74%) of carers felt that further support in some form would be useful to them, with a common desire for emotional support (33%). Carers also sought information and advice about the support available, respite care, and finances. Our report also found that there was a need for advice about maintaining good mental and emotional health, shining a light on the often unexpected levels of stress, isolation and despondency felt by unpaid carers.

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Social consequences of advanced cancer in patients and their informal caregivers: a qualitative study

Purpose: Cancer threatens the social well-being of patients and their informal caregivers. Social life is even more profoundly affected in advanced diseases, but research on social consequences of advanced cancer is scarce. This study aims to explore social consequences of advanced cancer as experienced by patients and their informal caregivers.; Methods: Seven focus groups and seven in-depth semi-structured interviews with patients (n = 18) suffering from advanced cancer and their informal caregivers (n = 15) were conducted. Audiotapes were transcribed verbatim and open coded using a thematic analysis approach.; Results: Social consequences were categorized in three themes: "social engagement," "social identity," and "social network." Regarding social engagement, patients and informal caregivers said that they strive for normality by continuing their life as prior to the diagnosis, but experienced barriers in doing so. Regarding social identity, patients and informal caregivers reported feelings of social isolation. The social network became more transparent, and the value of social relations had increased since the diagnosis. Many experienced positive and negative shifts in the quantity and quality of their social relations.; Conclusions: Social consequences of advanced cancer are substantial. There appears to be a great risk of social isolation in which responses from social relations play an important role. Empowering patients and informal caregivers to discuss their experienced social consequences is beneficial. Creating awareness among healthcare professionals is essential as they provide social support and anticipate on social problems. Finally, educating social relations regarding the impact of advanced cancer and effective support methods may empower social support systems and reduce feelings of isolation.

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A dyadic analysis of loneliness and health-related quality of life in Latinas with breast cancer and their informal caregivers

Objective: The primary aim of this investigation is to provide a novel dyadic test of a model of loneliness and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a sample of Latinas with breast cancer and their informal caregivers. Design: At baseline, dyads completed measures of loneliness and HRQoL. At a 3-month follow-up, they returned to complete the HRQoL measure. Associations were tested with the Actor–Partner Interdependence Model. Sample: About 234 Latinas with breast cancer diagnosed within the past year and their informal caregivers participated in the investigation. Findings: Loneliness was concurrently and negatively associated with HRQoL at baseline for both survivors and caregivers. Survivors' baseline loneliness, controlling for their baseline HRQoL, negatively predicted their HRQoL at 3 months. Survivors' HRQoL at baseline also predicted caregivers' HRQoL at 3 months. Conclusion: Loneliness is a risk factor for declines in HRQoL among cancer survivors. Their caregivers are also at risk for degraded HRQoL when the survivor experiences compromised HRQoL. Loneliness complicates the HRQoL of the cancer survivor–caregiver dyad.

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Male partners' experiences of caregiving for women with cervical cancer—a qualitative study

Aims and objectives: This study aimed to develop knowledge on the experiences of male partners of women with cervical cancer during and after the illness. We explore men's experiences of becoming caregivers as well as how the illness trajectory affects or has affected the relationship. Background: Receiving a cancer diagnosis has a significant impact on the lives of both the cancer patient and their family members. However, studies of male partners' experiences with cancer patients are scarce. Additionally, cervical cancer and its impact on male caregivers are less explored than how other cancer diagnoses impact male caregivers. The theoretical concept of caring masculinities is helpful to interpret men's experiences as caregivers and partners. Design: The study employs a qualitative design with semi‐structured interviews with six men/partners recruited through the gynaecological section at a hospital. COREQ reporting guidelines have been applied. Findings: Based on our analyses, we find that men's experiences of being caregivers and partners of women treated for cervical cancer are multifaceted, comprising emotional and practical aspects. However, three main findings stand out as particularly significant for men in the context of cervical cancer: loneliness, an altered sexual relationship and shared feelings of vulnerability. Conclusions: The men describe an interdependence in the relationship with the women but also how the relationships have been seriously altered, particularly when it comes to sexuality. These findings resonate with hegemonic as well as caring masculinities. Relevance to practice: Complex issues of intimacy and sexuality should be a pivotal element in educating future healthcare professionals. We strongly suggest that issues such as dealing with masculinity and caregiving roles should be on the agenda and reflected upon in teaching and supervising in clinical practice. A broader approach to sexual health and relationships is needed in the patient–clinician relationships, including information about human papillomavirus. 

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Roles of Family Caregivers and Perceived Burden When Caring for Hospitalized Adult Cancer Patients: Perspective From a Low-Income Country

Background: Family caregivers (FCGs) of adult cancer patients (ACPs) are typically involved in the entire trajectory of cancer disease, from diagnosis to survivorship or end of life. In developing countries, FCGs are more intensely involved in the process of providing care to the hospitalized ACPs because of lack of adequate cancer care resources. Active performance of tasks to meet the needs of ACPs in the hospital setting is likely to elicit significant caregiver burden.; Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the tasks performed and the caregiver burden experienced by FCGs of hospitalized ACPs in a sub-Saharan country.; Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive design was used to collect data from 168 FCGs of ACPs. The Caregiver Burden Scale was used to measure burden.; Results: The most common cancer diagnosis in male and female ACPs was Kaposi's sarcoma (32.1%) and breast cancer (37.9%), respectively. The tasks regularly performed by most FCGs for the ACPs were providing emotional support (79.8%), feeding (68.5%), transporting to other appointments (62.5%), preparing meals (55%), and giving medications (46.4%). Most FCGs (75%) were experiencing severe or very severe general caregiver burden. The dimensions of caregiver burden that were most severely impacted were general strain (70.6%), disappointment (85.8%), and isolation (72%). Predictors of caregiver burden are reported.; Conclusion: Family caregivers of hospitalized ACPs experience severe caregiver burden. The main forms of burden experienced were general strain, disappointment, and isolation.; Implications For Practice: Cancer care services in developing countries should be strengthened with services that address FCGs' emotional needs and human resources to curtail the strain imposed on FCGs.

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Living on the edge: Family caregivers' experiences of caring for post-stroke family members in China: A qualitative study

Background: Globally, one-third of the 15 million people with stroke suffer permanent physical, cognitive, and emotional impairment. Because of traditional Chinese culture and the limited development of the primary healthcare system, most stroke survivors are cared for and live with their family after hospital discharge. However, previous literature shows a lack of qualitative studies on family caregivers' experience of caring for their relatives in China.; Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the experience of family caregivers taking care of stroke survivors in China.; Methods: An explorative design was used wherein qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with family caregivers in China. Family caregivers were selected from one city and three communities using a purposive sampling method until no new data were generated (n = 26). A thematic analysis was used for the data analysis in this study.; Findings: Family caregivers' experience was described as living on the edge, which pulled their lives in multiple directions, created an unstable situation, and reduced their well-being and health. The participants believed they had total responsibility and felt that this was expected from both themselves and society. Little external understanding and insufficient support was emphasised, resulting in the caregivers feeling all alone, drained by caring, and like prisoners in their own lives. The family caregivers had to face all of the family events and make all of the decisions by themselves. They expressed love for their family members with stroke, but this was often overshadowed by feelings of sadness, depression, sensitivity, and anger. This resulted in an inability to see how things could improve and in the family caregivers being uncertain about the future.; Conclusion: All of these findings increased understanding and added knowledge of this topic that has been seldom studied in China. Healthcare authorities and professionals should recognise and understand the lives and situations of family caregivers since their relatives had a stroke to further identify their difficulties and needs. Appropriate and effective support, both from government and society, should be planned and implemented for family caregivers to relieve them from caring for their relatives with stroke and maintaining the quality of their own lives.

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Managing Shame: A Grounded Theory of How Stigma Manifests in Families Living With Dementia

Background: Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are irreversible, progressive brain disorders that slowly destroy memory, language, problem solving, and cognition. In the United States, dementia is the fifth leading cause of death for people age 65 years and older. Early diagnosis could have important benefits stigma related to dementia remains a significant impediment to diagnosis, treatment, and accessing services. While a growing body of research documents the existence and negative outcomes of stigma, less is known about how dementia-related stigma produces ill effects.; Aims: The purpose of this study was to use qualitative methods to explore how stigma manifests within families from the perspective of family caregivers of people with dementia.; Method: Using a grounded theory approach, we interviewed 13 family caregivers of people with dementia.; Results: Shame emerged as the central theme experienced by family caregivers of people with dementia. Attempting to manage shame, produced three categories of responses: (1) silencing and not calling attention to the symptoms, (2) concealing the diagnosis, and (3) shunning and avoiding contact.; Conclusions: Shame may be an underlying mechanism by which stigma is enacted and perpetuated, resulting in caregivers' isolation and delay in access to diagnostic and supportive services. Efforts to dispel the misconception that dementia is a shameful disease may be one way to diminish stigma.

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The burden, support and needs of primary family caregivers of people experiencing schizophrenia in Beijing communities: a qualitative study

Background: Family caregivers play crucial roles in taking care of people experiencing schizophrenia in the community. The burdens on and needs of caregivers of these patients should be emphasized. This study aimed to explore the perspective of family caregivers of people experiencing schizophrenia in the communities of Beijing in terms of the burdens of care and the acquisition and further need for support in order to provide guidance to health care providers regarding how to target therapeutic interventions for families of individuals experiencing schizophrenia and to provide recommendations for policy makers to tailor countermeasures and services.; Methods: A total of 20 family caregivers of schizophrenia patients were enrolled in our study. A face-to-face and semi-structured in-depth qualitative interview study was conducted to explore the caregivers' perspective on the burden on caregivers, support and further needs. This study was conducted in the community health service centres where the family caregivers regularly visit. The study was carried out according to good ethical practices, data analysis and reporting guidelines.; Results: Most participants reported that they were suffering from heavy life burdens and had negative experiences with respect to obtaining social support, and they emphasized that they would require more support. Economic and daily housework burdens, limited social communication, and psychological stresses were the principal burdens. Support including financial, medical and information and educational support did not satisfy the needs of the caregivers and their patients. More financial support, respect, and rehabilitation institutions were reported to be needs of the caregivers.; Conclusions: Family caregivers of people experiencing schizophrenia suffer from heavy physical and psychological burdens; however, the current support provided is insufficient. More services and better public attitudes should be considered for people experiencing schizophrenia and their caregivers.

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A qualitative study of older informal carers’ experiences and perceptions of their caring role

Background and aims: Unpaid family carers, or caregivers as they are also known, often play a vital role in supporting others with illness or disability living in the community. Overall numbers of carers are growing but numbers of older carers are increasing particularly rapidly as populations age worldwide. However, little research has focused on this important older group. This qualitative study therefore investigated older carers’ experiences and their perceptions of their role. Methods: Five digitally recorded focus groups with carers from Greater London were undertaken. Recordings were transcribed and analysed thematically. Findings: Forty-four carers aged 70–87 years participated. Most were female and two-thirds were spouses or partners. Overall, the carers thought their experiences were similar to those of younger adult carers and included both satisfying and challenging facets. However, they thought that some of the more negative aspects of the role were more difficult for older carers. Their own declining physical and emotional health and strength were seen as making it harder to access support and maintain social contacts. Loneliness both outside and within relationships featured prominently and was perceived as especially significant for housebound carers and when caring for someone with dementia. Many of these older carers also worried about the future when they might no longer be able to be a carer due to their own ill-health or death. Conclusions: Older carers find their role challenging and future investigations should focus on identifying means of reducing their isolation and supporting them with planning for the future. 

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Chronic Stress, Social Isolation, and Perceived Loneliness in Dementia Caregivers

Caregivers of individuals with dementia are at risk for chronic stress and social isolation. These exogenous factors may lead to perceived stress and perceived loneliness—psychosocial endogenous (subjective) elements of caregiving experience. Chronic stress and perceived loneliness may disrupt neuroendocrine and neuroimmunological regulation, creating low-grade systemic inflammation, promoting proinflammatory gene expression, and expediting cellular aging (endogenous physiological factors). These disturbances may enhance caregivers' risk for chronic conditions of inflammatory pathogenesis. Thus, caregivers' perceived stress and perceived loneliness may form a symptom cluster that can serve as a marker of risks for physical and mental illness. Due to the overwhelming reliance on family caregivers within the increasing population of individuals with dementia, it is essential that clinicians inquire about caregivers' perceived stress and perceived loneliness, are competent in supporting and educating caregivers, and are knowledgeable about specific resources for caregivers.

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Parental health limitations, caregiving and loneliness among women with widowed parents: longitudinal evidence from France

We investigate how daughters’ feelings of loneliness are impacted when widowed parents develop health limitations, and when daughters take on personal care tasks in response. Using longitudinal data from daughters of widowed parents drawn from the French Family and Intergenerational Relationships Study (ERFI, 1485 observations nested in 557 daughters), we assess (a) whether health limitations of widowed parents are associated with daughters’ feelings of loneliness regardless of whether or not daughters provide personal care and (b) whether there is an effect of care provision on loneliness that cannot be explained by parental health limitations. Fixed effect regression analyses show that widowed parents’ health limitations were associated with raised feelings of loneliness among their daughters. No significant additional effect of providing personal care to a widowed parent was found. Prior research on the impact of health limitations of older parents on the lives of their adult-children has focused mostly on issues related to informal caregiving. Our findings suggest that more attention to the psychosocial impact of parental health limitations—net of actual caregiving—on adult children’s lives is warranted.

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Distress in informal carers of the elderly in New Zealand

Aims: Informal care, which is unpaid and often provided by family and friends, is the primary source of aged care in New Zealand. In addition to financial costs there are known psychological costs of being a carer, including poor mental health.; Methods: This research aimed to interview a group of New Zealand carers and describe their rates of depression and anxiety, their motivations for providing care, costs of care and their experience of aggression. Interviews used standardised questions and were conducted over the phone.; Results: Results are reported from interviews of 48 carers and suggest this group have elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety. Most of the carers are partners or children of the carees and likely do the caring out of love. Unpaid family carers experience low levels of aggression. Carers reported personal and social restriction, and physical and emotional health the most burdensome aspect of being a carer.; Conclusions: Carers of the elderly in New Zealand show elevated levels of distress. Higher levels of emotional support are needed for New Zealand carers. If the health system continues to rely on unpaid carers more should be done to support them.

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The Impact of Stigma on Community Reintegration of Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury and the Well-Being of Their Caregivers

Objective: To assess the association between perceived stigma and discrimination and caregiver strain, caregiver well-being, and patient community reintegration.; Design: A cross-sectional survey study of 564 informal caregivers of U.S. military service veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who experienced traumatic brain injuries or polytrauma (TBI/PT).; Setting: Care settings of community-dwelling former inpatients of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers.; Participants: Caregivers of former inpatients (N=564), identified through next-of-kin records and subsequent nominations.; Interventions: Not applicable.; Main Outcome Measures: Caregiver strain, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and self-esteem; as well as care recipient community reintegration, a key aspect of TBI/PT rehabilitation.; Results: Family stigma was associated with strain, depression, anxiety, loneliness, lower self-esteem, and less community reintegration. Caregiver stigma-by-association was associated with strain, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and lower self-esteem. Care recipient stigma was associated with caregiver strain, depression, anxiety, loneliness, lower self-esteem, and less community reintegration.; Conclusions: Perceived stigma may be a substantial source of stress for caregivers of U.S. military veterans with TBI/PT, and may contribute to poor outcomes for the health of caregivers and for the community reintegration of the veterans for whom they provide care.

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'Being with' or 'doing for'? How the role of an end-of-life volunteer befriender can impact patient wellbeing: interviews from a multiple qualitative case study (ELSA)

Purpose: To explore the perspectives of people anticipated to be in their last year of life, family carers, volunteers and staff on the impacts of receiving a volunteer-provided befriending service. Patient participants received up to 12 weeks of a volunteer-provided befriending intervention. Typically, this involved one visit per week from a trained volunteer. Such services complement usual care and are hoped to enhance quality of life. Methods: Multiple case study design (n = 8). Cases were end-of-life befriending services in home and community settings including UK-based hospices (n = 6), an acute hospital (n = 1) and a charity providing support to those with substance abuse issues (n = 1). Data collection incorporated qualitative thematic interviews, observation and documentary analysis. Framework analysis facilitated within and across case pattern matching. Results: Eighty-four people participated across eight sites (cases), including patients (n = 23), carers (n = 3), volunteers (n = 24) and staff (n = 34). Interview data are reported here. Two main forms of input were described-'being there' and 'doing for'. 'Being there' encapsulated the importance of companionship and the relational dynamic between volunteer and patient. 'Doing for' described the process of meeting social needs such as being able to leave the house with the volunteer. These had impacts on wellbeing with people describing feeling less lonely, isolated, depressed and/or anxious. Conclusion: Impacts from volunteer befriending or neighbour services may be achieved through volunteers taking a more practical/goal-based orientation to their role and/or taking a more relational and emotional orientation. Training of volunteers must equip them to be aware of these differing elements of the role and sensitive to when they may create most impact.Trial Registration: ISRCTN12929812.

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Women's perspectives on home‐based care for family members with chronic illness: An Interpretive phenomenology study

The number of people with chronic illness who need home‐based care is increasing globally. Home‐based care is socially constructed to be work carried out by women. However, little attention has been paid to the opinions of middle‐aged women caring for family members with chronic illness at home. In this study, Thai women's perspectives on home‐based care for family members with chronic illness using interpretive phenomenology were identified. Fifteen middle‐aged women were interviewed twice, and the data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Four major themes emerged: (i) role obligation; (ii) social life change; (iii) doing good things; and (iv) lack of support. Important findings were that care was considered a woman's duty owing to cultural beliefs. Most participants sacrificed their own needs to care for others, as doing good things is considered an important Buddhist belief. Caring for others decreased women's social networks, but they cared more for their own health. Support with finances, information, workplaces, and care recipients should be provided to women with care responsibilities. These results can help nurses to better understand women's caring roles and the consequences of home‐based care that influence woman's health.

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Home Alone Revisited: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Care

The AARP Home Alone study in 2012 was the first national look at how families, neighbors, and friends are managing medical/nursing tasks—that is, the complex care associated with administering multiple medications, changing dressings, handling medical equipment, and providing many other kinds of help that were formerly offered by trained professionals.  (See www.aarp.org/homealone.) Seven years later, this Home Alone Revisited study sought a deeper understanding of what family caregivers who perform medical/nursing tasks experience. Employing an oversampling of multicultural groups, it took a closer look at specific difficult tasks, such as managing incontinence, pain, and special diets. It also offered greater attention to resources and outcomes as well as multicultural, gender, and generational experiences. A nationally representative, population-based, online survey of 2,089 family caregivers provided the basis for our analyses. An organizing framework, qualitative findings, and multivariate analyses provided further insights into the stories these family caregivers told us. Their voices led to our recommendations, found in these pages, for professionals, health care organizations, policy makers, and private-sector stakeholders.

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Revising social inclusion to take account of care

Social inclusion is a contested concept that identifies the basis for social membership and valued activities in any society. Within social inclusion assessments, care is often overlooked or perceived to be a risk factor for exclusion and a barrier to inclusion. Drawing on ideas from care theories, the authors argue that social inclusion needs revising to take account of care. While the idea of social inclusion can underscore the structures, mechanisms and practices that underpin socially generated care inequalities, revisions are necessary to incorporate insights from care theories and to provide an adequate assessment of carers' social inclusion.

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Family caregiving and compassion fatigue: A literature review

As the population ages, there is a growing need for families and friends to support frail older adults in their home. Although many family caregivers report feeling satisfied with their caring role, a growing number of caregivers also feel physically, emotionally, and financially drained by the experience. The purpose of this literature review is to explore the experience of compassion fatigue (CF) among family caregivers, and to suggest strategies to combat this possible consequence of caregiving. A literature search was conducted using the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, and ProQuest databases. In total, six English peer reviewed articles related to CF and family caregiving were identified for review. Although there are few studies available on this topic, the literature suggests that CF is a concern for this group of caregivers. Caregivers were found to be consumed by a sense of responsibility to support their relatives, and they showed signs of hopelessness, guilt, resentment, and social isolation. To combat CF, we advocate implementing a systems management approach, which would bring together all healthcare stakeholders to support family caregivers and those they care for.

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Exploring experiences of informal carers of mental health: Developing community intervention in social work in Jordan

The purpose of this article is to generate meaningful understanding of the mental health informal carers’ experience and to identify a possible approach to social work intervention. A mixed method of quantitative and qualitative analysis was used for data collection. The findings reveal that most of the informal carers are female adult. They experience stress, domestic violence, social exclusion as a result of the caring role, and fear of stigma. Cultural and religious factors must be considered when translating the caring role. The findings suggest implications for social work practice at a community level, utilizing a familial and support-group approach, with a practice that is sensitive to gender and religion.

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Behind the smile: qualitative study of caregivers' anguish and management responses while caring for someone living with heart failure

Background Caregivers support self-management in heart failure but often experience stress, anxiety and ill health as a result of providing care. Aims 1. To identify the factors that contribute to the experience of anguish. 2. To understand how caregivers learn to live with what is frequently a challenging and demanding role. Methods Individual interviews with caregivers who had been caring for someone with heart failure for a minimum of 6 months. We used thematic analysis to inductively analyse transcripts. Results Twenty-two caregivers, from three centres in the United Kingdom, took part in individual interviews. The caregivers were aged between 39 and 84 years, and six were men. Twenty were in spousal or partner relationships. We found that caregivers often hide the extent of their emotional stress or anguish. We identified four main themes with explanatory subthemes—emotional impact (fear for the future and sense of hopelessness), role definition (changing sense of who I am, reduced resilience, learning care skills, role conflict and changing role), exclusion (exclusion by the cared-for person and by health professionals and feeling alone) and ignoring one’s own health—that were associated with anguish. From these findings, we produced a caregiver needs assessment model in the context of caring for a person with heart failure. Conclusions and implications for practice Caregivers have many unmet and hidden needs. Primary care health professionals are well placed to meet the needs of caregivers. The model may be used by health and social care professionals to identify needs and to provide caregivers with targeted practical and emotional support; and for researchers developing interventions to enhance self-management in heart failure.

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Family caregiving of individuals with traumatic brain injury in Botswana

Background The impairments that affect survivors of TBI impact the person’s independence, and family members frequently have to take on a caregiver role. This study examined the experience of caregiving for individuals with TBI in Botswana and its impact on psychological distress in caregivers. Methods Using a mixed methods study design, qualitative data from semi-structured interviews were thematically analyzed and triangulated with data regarding functional status from the Structured Head Injury Outcome Questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Results The study included 26 participants with moderate to severe TBI, and a total of 18 caregivers were recruited. Caregivers commonly reported receiving limited information regarding their relatives’ injuries and management methods. Heavy caregiving demands were placed on them, with little support from the healthcare system. A significant proportion of caregivers experienced anxiety and depression, which was associated with lower functional independence in their injured relative. Somewhat more spouses than parents reported clinically significant anxiety levels. Other consequences of caregiving included social isolation and limited support from the wider community as well as financial difficulties. Despite these stresses caregivers tended to accept their caregiving role. Cultural factors such devotion to their families and faith and belief in God moderated burden and distress. Conclusions Carers of individuals with TBI in Botswana face significant challenges. Rehabilitation efforts need to take these into account. Specifically, more information and support needs to be provided to survivors and their families. Psychological, economic and health needs of the care providers also should be addressed in the planning of rehabilitation interventions.

Implications for Rehabilitation

  • Caregivers of individuals with TBI in under-resourced countries carry much of the burden of care, face many challenges and experience significant stress. 
  • More information and support needs to be provided to survivors of TBI and their families in countries such as Botswana in a culturally sensitive manner.
  • Psychological, economic and health needs also need to be addressed in the planning of rehabilitation interventions, which are currently non-existent in Botswana.
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Experiences of Loneliness Associated with Being an Informal Caregiver: A Qualitative Investigation

Although providing care to a family member or friend may provide psychological benefits, informal (i.e., unpaid) caregivers also encounter difficulties which may negatively affect their quality of life as well as their mental and physical health. Loneliness is one important challenge that caregivers face, with this psychological state being associated with morbidity and premature mortality. Although previous research has identified loneliness as an issue associated with being an informal caregiver, there is a paucity of evidence that attempts to understand this phenomenon in depth. This study aimed to examine informal caregivers' reflections on, and accounts of, experiences of loneliness linked to their caregiving situation. As part of a cross-sectional, qualitative study, sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 spousal caregivers, 4 daughters caring for a parent, 3 mothers caring for a child (or children), and 1 woman looking after her partner. The cared-for persons were suffering from a range of mental and physical health conditions (e.g., dementia, frailty due to old age, multiple sclerosis, depression, autism). Data were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis. Experiences of loneliness were described by reference to a context of shrunken personal space and diminished social interaction caused by the restrictions imposed by the caregiving role. Loneliness was also articulated against a background of relational deprivations and losses as well as sentiments of powerlessness, helplessness, and a sense of sole responsibility. Social encounters were also seen to generate loneliness when they were characterized by some form of distancing. Though not all sources or circumstances of loneliness in caregivers are amenable to change, more opportunities for respite care services, as well as a heightened sensibility and social appreciation of caregivers' valued contributions could help caregivers manage some forms of loneliness.

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Connecting Those That Care: Designing for Transitioning, Talking, Belonging and Escaping

Care provision in many nations increasingly relies on the work of informal, or non-professional, carers. Often these carers experience substantial disruptions and reductions to their own sociality, weakened social support networks and, ultimately, a heightened risk of social isolation. We describe a qualitative study, comprised of interviews, design workshops and probes, that investigated the social and community support practices of carers. Our findings highlight issues related to becoming and recognising being a carer, and feelings of being ignored by, and isolated from, others. We also note the benefits that sharing between carers can bring, and routes to coping and relaxing from the burdens of care. We conclude with design considerations for facilitating new forms of digitally mediated support that connect those that care, emphasising design qualities related to transitioning, talking, belonging and escaping.

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"I Don't Believe in Leading a Life of My Own, I Lead His Life": A Qualitative Investigation of Difficulties Experienced by Informal Caregivers of Stroke Survivors Experiencing Depressive and Anxious Symptoms

Objectives: Health and social care services are increasingly reliant on informal caregivers to provide long-term support to stroke survivors. However, caregiving is associated with elevated levels of depression and anxiety in the caregiver that may also negatively impact stroke survivor recovery. This qualitative study aims to understand the specific difficulties experienced by caregivers experiencing elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression.; Methods: Nineteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with caregivers experiencing elevated levels of depression and anxiety, with a thematic analysis approach adopted for analysis.; Results: Analysis revealed three main themes: Difficulties adapting to the caring role; Uncertainty; and Lack of support.; Conclusions: Caregivers experienced significant difficulties adapting to changes and losses associated with becoming a caregiver, such as giving up roles and goals of importance and value. Such difficulties persisted into the long-term and were coupled with feelings of hopelessness and worry. Difficulties were further exacerbated by social isolation, lack of information and poor long-term health and social care support.; Clinical Implications: A greater understanding of difficulties experienced by depressed and anxious caregivers may inform the development of psychological support targeting difficulties unique to the caring role. Improving caregiver mental health may also result in health benefits for stroke survivors themselves.

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Long-term Care Provision and the Well-Being of Spousal Caregivers: An Analysis of 138 European Regions

Objectives: The individual burden of caring for one's relatives not only depends on care characteristics but is also related to contextual factors. The objective of this study is to determine whether regional formal long-term care provision is linked to the well-being of spousal caregivers introducing the concept of "control" as central pathway to explain this link.; Method: We applied multilevel analysis using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) from over 29,000 Europeans and 1,800 spousal caregivers located in 138 regions in 11 countries to analyze the effects of regional contexts on caregiver well-being. The provision of formal care in a region was measured by the number of long-term care beds in nursing and residential homes among the older population.; Results: We found that spousal caregivers' well-being, measured in terms of life satisfaction, loneliness, and depression, was positively linked to the regional availability of formal care, which is partly due to higher perceived control in regions with more formal care provision.; Discussion: Our results suggest that formal care supply is essential not only for care recipients but also for caregivers: perceived alternatives to the private care arrangement go along with greater well-being of informal caregivers.

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Population Characteristics and Needs of Informal Caregivers Associated With the Risk of Perceiving a High Burden: A Cross-Sectional Study

This study explored the population characteristics and needs of informal caregivers reporting a low or high burden. A cross-sectional study was conducted in the Netherlands to explore the associations between the characteristics and needs of informal caregivers and the burden they perceive and to assess the variance in perceived burdens that is explained by these variables. Three thousand sixty-seven adult informal caregivers and 1936 senior informal caregivers participated, almost 15% of whom perceived a high burden. Particularly caregivers in the 40 to 54 age group perceived a high burden, while caregivers with an intermediate educational level reported a low burden. Higher burden was also reported by caregivers who spent more time on the care provision tasks, had a high level of depressive symptoms, or reported loneliness. The explored variables seem to be important to explain caregiver burden. Longitudinal research is warranted to establish the causal directions of these associations.

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Life of the Second-Order Patient: Factors Impacting the Informal Caregiver

Informal caregivers (ICs) are forced to make adaptive lifestyle changes to meet the significant demand of caring for loved ones who are terminally ill. Open-ended questions were administered with 26 ICs who cared for loved ones diagnosed with terminal illnesses whose prognosis was less than six months. The results add substantive information to parsimonious literature and demonstrate a correlation with existing studies that coincide with the debilitating effects that caregiving has on the informal carer. The study clarifies the complexities of the caregiving role characterized by the involvement that may adversely affect socialization, physical health conditions, and marital dynamics, among other areas of the IC’s personal life. 

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Valued activities and informal caregiving in stroke: a scoping review

Purpose: Map the literature about valued activities and informal caregiving post stroke and determine the nature, extent, and consequences of caregivers' activity changes.; Methods: A scoping review was undertaken, searching Pubmed, Cinahl, PsycInfo, and Google Scholar. Two researchers independently identified relevant articles, extracted study characteristics and findings, and assigned codes describing the topics and outcomes. Using thematic analysis, the main study topics and study outcomes were described.; Results: The search yielded 662 studies, 30 of which were included. These were mainly qualitative and cross-sectional studies assessing caregivers' activity changes and related factors, or exploring caregivers' feelings, needs and strategies to deal with their activity challenges. Although caregivers often lost their social and leisure activities, which made them feel unhappy and socially isolated, we found no studies about professional interventions to help caregivers maintain their activities. Over the years, caregivers' activity levels generally increased. However, some caregivers suffered from sustained activity loss, which, in turn, relates to depression.; Conclusion: Loss of valued activities is common for stroke caregivers. Although high-level evidence is lacking, our results suggest that sustained activity loss can cause stroke caregivers to experience poor mental health and wellbeing. Suggestions to help caregivers maintain their valued activities are presented. Implications for rehabilitation Not only stroke survivors but also their informal caregivers tend to lose their valued activities, such as their social and leisure activities. Although many caregivers manage to resume their valued activities over time, others suffer from sustained activity loss up to at least two years post stroke. Loss of valued activities in stroke caregivers can result in lower levels of wellbeing, depression, and social isolation. Rehabilitation professionals should screen stroke caregivers for activity loss and assist them in resuming their valued activities and maintaining their social contacts.;

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The experience of informal caregivers of patients with motor neurone disease: A thematic synthesis

Objective: Research is required in order to illustrate and detail the experiences of informal caregivers of patients with motor neurone disease (pwMND) to further advance the research base and to inform the development of future support structures and services. Due to the heterogeneous nature of caregiving for pwMND, one way in which this can be achieved is through a qualitative review. A qualitative thematic analysis of existing qualitative studies has not, to the best of the authors' knowledge, been previously undertaken. Thus, the present synthesis aims to identify caregivers' experiences and to suggest factors that contribute to these experiences in order to fulfill the required research needs.; Method: A thematic synthesis of qualitative literature was conducted. AMED, Medline, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, and PubMed were electronically searched from inception until September of 2015. Studies were eligible if they included qualitative literature reporting on firsthand experience of informal caregivers of patients with MND, were published in English, and contained verbatim quotations. Critical appraisal was undertaken using a 13-item consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative studies (COREQ) checklist.; Results: A total of 10 studies met the inclusion criteria, with 148 (50 male) current or previous informal caregivers of pwMND identified. Critical appraisal demonstrated that study design and reflexivity were underreported. The synthesis derived three themes: (1) loss of control, (2) inability to choose, and (3) isolation.; Significance Of Results: The synthesis highlighted the factors that contribute to both positive and negative caregiving experiences. Through these experiences, such suggestions for service provision as improving communication with healthcare professionals and having a single point of contact emerged. However, the outcome of such suggestions on the experience of caregivers is beyond the scope of our synthesis, so that further research is required.;

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Social exclusion in adult informal carers: A systematic narrative review of the experiences of informal carers of people with dementia and mental illness

Social exclusion has a negative impact on quality of life. People living with dementia or mental health disorders as well as informal carers have been separately described as socially excluded. The objective of this systematic narrative review was to examine the extent to which social exclusion experienced by adult informal carers of people living with dementia or severe mental health disorders has been identified and described in research literature. It synthesised qualitative and quantitative evidence and included the perspectives of carers themselves and of professionals. Eight electronic databases (1997-2017) were searched. Five relevant studies published between 2010 and 2016 were identified. All were qualitative and used interviews and focus groups. Study quality was variable and most were European. Two focused on carers of people living with dementia and three on carers of people with mental health disorders. Four investigated carers' perspectives and experiences of social exclusion directly (total of 137 carer participants, predominantly parents, spouses and adult children), while the fifth focused on the perceptions of 65 participants working in health and social care. Stigma, financial difficulties and social isolation were highlighted in four studies and the challenges for carers in engaging in leisure activities were described in the fifth. Most conceptualised social exclusion as a form of stigma, or as resulting from stigma. One presented social exclusion as an element of carer burden. Two explicitly discussed the negative effects of social exclusion on carers. The dearth of research and the lack of specificity about social exclusion in carers was surprising. Future research should investigate aspects of social exclusion that may adversely affect carer wellbeing.;

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Participant perspectives of a home-based palliative approach for people with severe multiple sclerosis: A qualitative study

Background: We performed a qualitative study to investigate the experiences of participants in a multicentre randomized controlled trial on a home-based palliative approach (HPA) for adults with severe multiple sclerosis (MS) and their caregivers. Our aim was to explore the strengths and challenges of the intervention, and circumstances that may have influenced its efficacy.; Methods: Participants to the qualitative study were the patients, their caregivers, patient referring physicians, and the teams who delivered the HPA intervention. We performed semi-structured one-on-one interviews with 12 patients and 15 informal caregivers chosen using a maximum variation strategy, two focus group meetings with patient referring physicians (4 participants each), and one with the HPA teams (9 participants).; Results: From data analysis (framework method) 38 sub-categories emerged, which were grouped into 10 categories and 3 themes: 'expectations,' 'met and unmet needs', and 'barriers'. Intervention benefits were improved control of symptoms and reduced sense of isolation of the patient-caregiver dyads. Limitations were: factors related to experimental design (difficulty of dyads in identifying examiner and team roles, additional burden for caregivers); team issues (insufficient team building /supervision, competing priorities); limitations of the intervention itself (insufficient length, lack of rehabilitation input); and external factors (resource limitations, under-responsive services/professionals). The referring physician focus groups provided little experiential data.; Conclusions: The HPA reduced patient symptoms and sense of isolation in patients and caregivers. The indirect role of the HPA teams, and insufficient length of the intervention were key limitations. The experimental design imposed additional burdens on the dyads. Key barriers were the paucity of available services, the demanding administrative procedures, and lack of networking facilities. These findings suggest that two major requirements are necessary for home palliative care to be effective in this patient population: HPA teams well-connected with MS rehabilitation services, and care delivered over the long-term, with variable intensity.; Trial Registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN73082124 (Registered 19/06/2014).;

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Discussion Paper 10 Rural Carers in Ireland: Challenges and Opportunities

Traditionally, the majority of the population of Ireland have lived in rural areas outside of large towns and cities. However, this has changed over time, and in 2016 just over 37% of the population lived in an ‘aggregate rural area’ – which is an area of less than 1,500 inhabitants. The percentage of family carers living in these same rural aggregate areas is higher, at almost 42%.

The National Carers Strategy (2012) identifies ‘rural carers’ as a ‘subgroup’ of family carers (along with male carers, young carers and older carers) whose needs must be specifically addressed. Specific challenges face family carers living in rural or sparsely inhabited areas. While there are family carer support organisations across the country, operating and providing supports nationwide, not all of the challenges facing family carers can be addressed by support organisations alone.

This paper outlines some of these key issues, investigates some of the international research and responses to rural family carer challenges, and sets out some additional responses which are necessary in an Irish context.

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Coping with patients suffering from overactive bladder: experiences of family caregivers in Hong Kong

This article examines the experiences of family caregivers working with patients affected by overactive bladder ( OAB) in Hong Kong. Chronic diseases create physical and emotional burdens not only for patients but also for family caregivers, who often experience physical and emotional burnout and social impairment. Extensive literature has pertained to caregiver experiences in western and non-western settings; however, few studies have addressed the livelihoods and experiences of family caregivers of patients with OAB in ethnic Chinese communities. Because of the increasing prevalence of OAB worldwide, this study investigated the experiences of such caregivers in Hong Kong, examining their emotional and social needs. A qualitative research design with individual semistructured interviews was adopted, and snowball sampling was used to recruit 35 family caregivers who were referred by patients with OAB. The participants were interviewed individually from May to August 2013. A phenomenological approach was adopted in the data analysis. The data revealed that all participants had unpleasant experiences in caring for family members with OAB. A sense of powerlessness, helplessness, confusion and guilt, as well as grievances and social withdrawal, was prevalent, causing great physical and emotional suffering and subsequent physical and emotional burnout. These negative experiences were often caused by confusion regarding caretaking duties. The negative emotions of the participants and their family members also caused a lack of communication and mutual understanding about the disease, causing care-giving to be even more confusing and difficult. Furthermore, because of traditional Chinese cultural values and gender expectations, male participants experienced the triple burden of employment, domestic duties and care-giving. More holistic social and healthcare support services should be provided for care-giving family members of patients with OAB patients, empowering such caregivers to attend to family members and care for their own emotional well-being.

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The vulnerability of family caregivers in relation to vulnerability as understood by nurses

In Finland, the care of older persons is shifting from institutional care to family care. Research shows that family caregivers experience their situation much in the same way as professional nurses. The nurses' experiences have been studied in terms of vulnerability, and the same perspective could deepen our understanding of family caregivers' experiences. The aim of this study was to gain knowledge of the vulnerability of older caregivers taking care of an ageing family member. The research questions were as follows: How do family caregivers experience vulnerability? How do their experiences relate to vulnerability as understood by nurses? The study was done as a secondary analysis of focus group interviews on the experiences and daily life of older family caregivers. Four caregivers had taken part in monthly interviews during a period of 10 months. The interviews were analysed by deductive and inductive content analysis. The results showed that the caregivers saw caregiving as part of being human. They experienced a variety of feelings and moral agony and were harmed physically, mentally and socially. They showed courage, protected themselves and recognised that being a caregiver also was a source of maturing and developing. These results corresponded with the nurses' understanding of vulnerability. Shame, the experience of duty as a burden, worry and loneliness were themes that were found only among the family caregivers. The use of a matrix may have restricted the analysis, but using it in an unconstrained way allowed for new themes to be created. The results indicate a common humanness and vulnerability in professional and family caregiving. They also show that family caregivers need more support both from society and professionals. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Aging in Place in Every Community: Social Exclusion Experiences of Parents of Adult children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

This article offers an examination of aging processes of lifelong caregivers and the possibilities for social exclusion place experienced by parents of adult children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study of parental caregivers (n = 51) sheds light on how enduring caregiving roles can lead to social exclusion in three ways: misunderstanding of ASD and stigma, the complexity of the caregiving roles, and impact on daily routines including challenges with long-term planning for both the adult children and the parental caregivers. Implications for practice to address social exclusion include education and building greater communication ties among family member for family members and advocacy for more and higher quality services including respite care. This article concludes with discussion of the impact of this aging, yet caregiving population and the need for knowledge about aging processes and anticipating aging for these caregivers. 

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Discussion Paper 6: Disability and Family Carer Policy - Challenges and Responses

A working definition of ‘disability’ is crucial to any research, policy development or service provision in the field. There are many definitions of disability (Iezzoni & Freedman, 2008), some directly contradicting others. These differences originate from the different theoretical viewpoints which have been and are still being used to articulate what ‘disability’ is. These ‘competing’ models – though such competition is not explicitly stated in many cases – contribute to the confusion which often accompanies policy work and service provision in the disability-specific sector and those sectors closely connected – such as family caring.

Recent developments and discussions within the disability and family caring sectors in Ireland only highlight the challenges of obtaining a general consensus on the conceptualisation of disability.

The purpose of this paper, as with all papers in this series, is to ask questions with the aim of stimulating debate and critical thinking within the sector. This is particularly true as regards questions that may be uncomfortable for some readers.

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Barriers to Family Caregivers' Coping With Patients With Severe Mental Illness in Iran

The broad spectrum of problems caused by caring for a patient with mental illness imposes a high burden on family caregivers. This can affect how they cope with their mentally ill family members. Identifying caregivers' experiences of barriers to coping is necessary to develop a program to help them overcome these challenges. This qualitative content analysis study explored barriers impeding family caregivers' ability to cope with their relatives diagnosed with severe mental illness (defined here as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, and bipolar affective disorders). Sixteen family caregivers were recruited using purposive sampling and interviewed using a semi-structured in-depth interview method. Data were analyzed by a conventional content analytic approach. Findings consisted of four major categories: the patient's isolation from everyday life, incomplete recovery, lack of support by the mental health care system, and stigmatization. Findings highlight the necessity of providing support for caregivers by the mental health care delivery service system. 

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Happy shopper? The problem with service users and carer participation

This critical commentary assesses the consequences and impact of forms of seemingly widespread, constructive and altruistic service user and carer participation (SUCP) within social work. In particular, and whilst drawing from Gramsci's understanding of hegemony and Levitas's critical interpretation of social exclusion, it is proposed that SUCP serves the interests of government, affiliated organizations, including those within social work and social care, and, perhaps more generally, the disparate needs generated by the neo-liberal-inspired social care market. Arguably, there are also related substantive aspects of SUCP that are problematic on ethical grounds -including the possibility that participation inadvertently increases social inequalities by justifying and promoting hegemonic agendas. Some suggestions are briefly made regarding how to move SUCP forward, including difficult questions that must be asked about whether or not SUCP can confront forms of structural disadvantage and oppression.

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Half a million voices: improving support for BAME carers

There are 500,000 Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) carers in England. This report shows that BAME carers provide more care than average. They face additional difficulties as they care, struggling with language barriers, accessing culturally appropriate services and with stereotyping around caring. This puts them at greater risk of ill health, poverty, loss of employment and social exclusion. The report analyses existing provisions and sets clear recommendations for local authorities, health and well being boards, primary care trusts and GP consortia to improve services.

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The experiences of young carers: a meta-synthesis of qualitative findings

The aim of this meta-synthesis was to explore young carers' accounts of caring for a family member with an illness, difficulty or disability, and to promote a phenomenological understanding of their experiences. A meta-ethnographic method of meta-synthesis was adopted, utilising the process of reciprocal translation to synthesise 11 qualitative studies. The synthesis yielded four main concepts: (1) becoming a caring person; (2) the adult child - the marks of being different; (3) who is a carer? - others' expectations and stigmatisation; and (4) keeping caring as a secret - protecting the caring role and identity. The synthesis of translation generated the higher-order concept of 'integrating caring into an emerging identity'. This concept considers the experiences of young carers as a process of identity formation in the face of persistent stressful experiences from both within and outside the caring role. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed. 

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Consultation on direct payment regulations

Direct payments are crucial to achieving the Government's aim to increase independence, choice and control for service users and their carers through allowing them the opportunity to arrange their own personalised care. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 extends the availability of direct payments to those people who lack the capacity to consent to their receipt. In addition, the government is also reviewing the current exclusions to receiving direct payments for those people who are subject to various provisions of mental health legislation in light of the modernisation of mental health law brought about by the Mental Health Act 2007. The Government is now consulting on regulations relating to these two changes.

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Social participation: how does it vary with illness, caring and ethnic group?

It has long been accepted that lack of social participation in wider society is one aspect or one definition of poverty. Current concerns with the extent and distribution of social capital as both a measure of a good society and as means to upward mobility also emphasise the importance of social contacts and networks to the well-being of individuals and communities. While research has often focused on ‘civic participation’ and the measurement of trust, more informal social bonds are also a crucial part of individuals’ social capital. Moreover, informal social capital or social participation might be particularly important for those whose circumstances make them already more vulnerable to marginalisation, exclusion or poverty. For example, social interaction has been argued to be conducive to better outcomes for those with health problems; and there is an extensive literature which aims to chart and explain the role of ‘ethnic capital’ in the life chances of minority ethnic groups. I use the British Home Office Citizenship Survey 2001 for England and Wales to explore the impact on four aspects of lack of social engagement of long-term illness, caring for someone with such an illness, and ethnicity. Controlling for a range of characteristics and examining the relationships separately for men and women there is evidence that between them, the four measures reveal an underlying propensity for reduced social contact. Other things being equal, illness has little association with reduced social participation, but caring does seem to affect opportunities for sociability. Members of some ethnic groups are less likely to engage in neighbourly social visiting than others, and these differences are little affected by income level. By contrast differences in ‘going out’ across groups can largely be explained by differences in income. Overall, social engagement among male Bangladeshis and to a lesser extent Pakistanis is high, whereas Black Africans and Black Caribbeans, especially women, are notable for their lack of opportunities for social engagement compared with their otherwise similar peers. They would appear to be particularly at risk of social isolation, with consequences for their current and future welfare. 

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Scottish Household Survey analytical topic report: characteristics and experiences of unpaid carers in Scotland: research findings

The main findings of research that aimed to provide an indication of which types of carers may be in particular need of support, and examine the demographic characteristics of carers are reported. The report analysed responses to the Scottish Household Survey between 1999 and 2004.

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Different but the same? Exploring the experiences of young people caring for a parent with an alcohol or other drug issue

Although children of parents with an alcohol or other drug (AOD) issue appear to assume a range of caring responsibilities within their families they have, until recently, been excluded from the growing body of young-carer research, policy and practice. This is problematic, as this group may experience greater levels of social exclusion whilst experiencing similar negative impacts of care as their caring peers. This paper discusses the findings of an exploratory qualitative research project conducted in Canberra, Australia which attempted to further understand these young people's experiences and to consider how they might best be supported. The paper challenges the way that young caring has been conceptualised and suggests that unless a number of conceptual, structural and organisational changes are made, young people caring for a parent with an AOD issue may remain relatively unsupported.

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Scottish Household Survey analytical topic report: characteristics and experiences of unpaid carers in Scotland

This report discusses the characteristics and experiences of unpaid carers and those in receipt of unpaid care in Scotland, by analysing the Scottish Household Survey from 1999 to 2004. The aim of the report is to provide a clear picture of unpaid carers and identify those groups of carers who are in particular need of support in order to inform the development of Scottish Executive policy on carers.

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Patterns of exclusion of carers for people with mental health problems - the perspectives of professionals

A major issue in research, policy and professional practice is the social exclusion of carers, in particular carers for people with mental health problems. In order to address the issue of social exclusion from the perspectives of professionals, 65 participants were interviewed. The sample included directors, managers and senior staff from the social care, health and voluntary sectors. Respondents were asked to comment at length on the social exclusion of carers. Findings highlight four main types of exclusion: first, personal exclusions, including stigma; keeping mental health problems ‘a secret’; and taboos surrounding mental health care; second, social exclusions, such as isolation; narrowing of social networks; restrictions due to time commitments; exclusions relating to education, training, employment and leisure; and young carers; third, service exclusions involving carers being taken for granted and having difficulties with access to appropriate services; and fourth, financial or economic exclusions that lead to carers paying for care. This paper documents patterns of exclusion and draws out implications for research, policy and professional practice. In conclusion this paper also considers the ways in which professionals and services may better promote the social inclusion of carers for people with mental health problems in the future.

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Social inclusion for the mental health of informal caregivers of Alzheimer disease's patients: The role of reemployment strategies of socially excluded

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a one of the leading cause of dependency among older adults and of institutionalization in Europe. The number of people with AD is estimated in 10 million people and the cost of the disease has been recently estimated in 100.000 million of euros per year in the European Union (European Brain Council, 2011). There is nowadays no effective treatment of the disease. Currently, care of AD patients is primary sustained by informal caregivers who suffer burden as a result of their care responsibilities, and consequently are mainly affected by mental health problems (depression, anxiety, etc). This burden is also related with a premature institutionalization and violence against AD patients. In this sense, effective solutions are needed in order to fight against the mental health problems of informal caregivers. Regarding this, a social innovation research, funded by the Progress Programme of the DG of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, is being developed currently in France and Spain, where the authors are aimed to demonstrate how a specialized formal training in AD addressed to people in risk of labour and social exclusion could improve the quality of life of AD patients and reduce the informal caregiver burden. The results of this research is specially relevant to help to reduce mental health problems of the informal carers of AD patients, but also in terms of intervene on the cognitive skills of the persons affected, as well as to allow the employment of socially excluded people.

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Spousal experiences of coping with and adapting to caregiving for a partner who has a stroke: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research

Purpose: This meta-synthesis was conducted to explore qualitative spousal accounts of coping and adaptation to caregiving when their partner experienced a stroke. Method: Electronic databases were searched systematically and inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. The meta-synthesis was conducted using guidance from Sandelowski and Barroso to extract salient data relating to coping and adaptation. Results: Twelve papers were identified for inclusion and seven themes resultant themes were extracted: Seeking information; Searching for own space and well-being; Suffering in silence; Putting one’s own needs aside; Adapting to a changed role; Social support and Hope and Optimism: instilling a positive focus. Conclusions: The findings suggested spouses adopt a range of adaptive coping strategies although several barriers to these were also identified and discussed in relation to a number of clinical implications. The limitations of this meta-synthesis were discussed, together with recommendations for future research.

Implications for Rehabilitation: 

  • Respite care for partner-carers is important for their well-being and there is a need to improve the availability and quality of such provision.
  • It is important to provide stroke-related information and training in practical care tasks, preferably before their partner is discharged home from hospital, in order to avoid leaving spouses feeling vulnerable and unprepared.

  • The positive adapting mechanisms identified within this review can be drawn on by clinicians to inform their interactions with stroke spousal carers and to advise them in strategies which have helped their counterparts.

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Valuing people: a New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century; a White Paper presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Health by command of Her Majesty March 2001

Describes the government's strategy for improving the life chances of people with learning disabilities. Covers issues such as improving service provision for children with learning disabilities; improving choice and control for people with learning disabilities; supporting carers; improving health care for people with learning disabilities; providing housing, employment and fulfilling lives; and assuring quality in services.

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Gender, poverty and social exclusion

Throughout the 20th century women were more vulnerable to poverty than men which continues into the 21st century. These gender differences are explored in a chapter on gender, poverty and social exclusion in a volume giving the results of the millennium Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) Survey. Social exclusion exists where one or more of the social sub-systems is not functioning adequately - the economic, social and family and community systems. Women's poverty is linked to caring and domestic work and is related to the control of financial resources in marriage and the family, they are increasingly dependent on their own earnings, generally lower than men's. The disproportionate care of elderly people has more impact on women. The PSE Survey did not explore the views of all members of a household, a significant limitation in this context. The remaining two sections examine gender and poverty, and gender and social exclusion through the lifecourse. The first investigates the lack of socially perceived [...]

Children in exclusion zone

The author argues that funding for young carers' support should be ring-fenced to avoid that possibility that British councils may use the budget to fend off the next budgetary crisis. He describes young carers as children who take on responsibility for their families, acting as main carers for their disabled or chronically ill parents and siblings. The government has funded initiatives to support young carers. However, he notes that government aims to transfer this funding to local authorities.

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Informal primary carers of stroke survivors living at home-challenges, satisfactions and coping: a systematic review of qualitative studies

Purpose. To summarize qualitative studies from the last decade that focus on experiences of caring for stroke survivors and to describe challenges, satisfactions and coping strategies.

Methods. A systematic review of qualitative studies identified from English language medicine, nursing and psychology databases from 1996–2006 was undertaken.

Results. Seventeen qualitative studies fitting the inclusion and exclusion criteria, mostly from the USA, were identified. All used carer interviews. These studies corroborate the quantitative research, commonly describing difficulties including emotional responses, uncertainty and associated information and training needs. However, compared with quantitative research, qualitative studies provide a more detailed, complete picture of carers' experiences and identify additional areas including role and relationship changes, positive outcomes and coping strategies.

Conclusions. Qualitative studies add significantly to our understanding of carers' experiences. Caring for stroke survivors is often challenging but focusing on the difficulties and not drawing attention to successful management strategies and satisfaction reported by carers, limits understanding and reduces the chances of providing appropriate support. Future qualitative research should consider the implications of the timing of collection more carefully and should move away from simple content or thematic analysis which tends to emphasize similarities amongst carers and should now focus on understanding carer diversity. Acknowledging this diversity should maximize the chances of providing appropriate support.

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Informal caring for stroke survivors: Meta-ethnographic review of qualitative literature

Stroke is a very common cause of adult disability often leaving stroke survivors dependent on others. Much of this support comes from informal carers. Research has demonstrated the importance of these carers to survivors’ recovery but also suggests that caregiving has adverse consequences. Meta-ethnography was applied to review qualitative research looking at informal stroke carers’ experiences and responses to caring. Electronic databases from 2006 to 2009 were searched and after application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, seven studies were reviewed.

The experience of caring for stroke survivors centres around change and loss overlaid with uncertainty. Change includes changes in roles and relationships. Losses include former relationships, autonomy and taken-for-granted futures. These challenge carers’ perception of their identity.

Carers respond cognitively and practically and attempts to reconstruct their lives may lead to acceptance and adjustment. This process is one of biographical disruption for carers but can result in personal growth.

If carers and stroke survivors are to be supported, acknowledging specific issues including role and relationship changes and perceptions of reduced autonomy may be more valuable than attempting to reduce carer burden or strain. Clinicians frequently only see families over short periods and may therefore have little understanding of the major, long-term disruptive impact of caregiving. If professionals working with families of stroke survivors are made aware of this and of the necessity for carers to come to terms with their changed roles and identities, they will be better equipped to understand and respond to carers’ practical and emotional needs.

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Youth South Asians with learning disabilities: still socially excluded?

This paper report on a study undertaken in Glasgow of young South Asian people with learning disabilities and their carers, and explores the extent to which they are socially excluded. Although there is an increasing political emphasis on the inclusion of people with learning disabilities, the families concerned continue to experience isolation, both socially and in terms of service provision. Access to service is often problematic, because of linguistic and cultural barriers and families appear to be reluctant to use day centres. Young people with learning disabilities themselves feel stigmatised, while carers are in need of support, and also apprehensive as to the future care of their children. Although government is promoting a range of relevant initiatives, young South Asians with learning disabilities continue to be an excluded group.

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Cultural competency: professional action and South Asian carers

Inequality and exclusion are characteristic of the experience of UK South Asian communities. In health care, community needs are often not addressed by health and social welfare services. An increase in cultural competency is now part of identified policy. The aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which there is evidence of cultural competency amongst professionals concerning South Asian parents caring for a person with cerebral palsy. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with respondents from 19 service organisations. Results are presented on perceptions of service delivery and on the dynamics of service development: evidence is found that inadequate service delivery continues despite professional knowledge that it exists. Conditions necessary for the achievement of cultural competence are discussed. We suggest that service development to meet the needs of South Asian carers must form part of an overall strategy geared to change at different levels within and outside service organisations.

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Factors that contribute to adult children caregivers' well-being: a scoping review

The ageing of the population will increasingly result in reliance on the family for care in the community. Existing reviews have provided insights into the needs and health outcomes of family caregivers, but are disproportionately skewed towards spousal caregivers. Presently, a large majority of family caregivers are adult children. Adult children are distinct from spousal caregivers in terms of the combination of roles they occupy and the relationship they have with the care recipient. These unique considerations can have important implications for their well-being. A growing body of literature has investigated the factors that contribute to adult children caregivers' (ACCs) well-being; however, no reviews to date have synthesised this body of literature or appraised its methodological quality. Our objective was to identify the range and types of factors that contribute to ACC well-being across studies. A scoping review was conducted. Medline, Psycinfo, EMBASE and CINAHL databases (January 1996–August, 2012) were systematically searched for studies investigating ACC well-being. Inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied, methodological quality was appraised, the data were charted and a narrative synthesis was conducted. Fifty-five studies met our inclusion criteria. Factors that contribute to ACC well-being were found to be either: (i) care recipient-related (e.g. nature of limitations, amount of care required); (ii) caregiver-related (e.g. psychological dispositions of the ACC); or (iii) socially embedded (e.g. parent–child relationship, multiple role involvement, social support available to the ACC). Socially embedded factors that contribute to ACC well-being have received the most attention in the literature. Among these factors, ACC well-being is uniquely impacted by the quality of the parent–child relationship and combination of roles occupied. The majority of studies were cross-sectional. Future studies should therefore employ a longitudinal design to inform our understanding of the changes that take place in the parent–child relationship and multiple role involvement across the care-giving trajectory.

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Carers and indicators of vulnerability to social exclusion

Discusses the concept of social exclusion in relation to carers and asks why it has taken so long to link carers with the social exclusion agenda.

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Paying the price: carers, poverty and social exclusion

There are approximately six million people in the UK who provide care and support for someone, usually a relative or partner, who, because of age, health or disability, are unable to cope alone. Although this form of unpaid care work saves the taxpayer an estimated £34 billion a year in health and social services, the carers themselves are often left in poverty, excluded from any active social life and often without paid employment. This publication draws on recent research that looks at the way caring impacts on the lives of different types of carers. Each different group is examined a case study is presented to illustrate the different obstacles faced. The groups covered include: young carers; parent carers; working-age carers (and work), and; carers over pension age.

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Caring on the breadline: the financial implications of caring: executive summary

This report presents findings of a questionnaire-based survey of the financial position of carers in the UK conducted by the Carers National Association (CNA), the starting point of which was that government carers strategies published recently for England and Scotland have omitted to address carers' financial problems. The survey suggested that a large proportion of carers providing substantial care are faced with financial hardship. The report presents a detailed account of the effects of caring on income and finances, the diversity of needs according to the age, ethnic background, and benefit status of carers, and the changes which carers would perceive to be most beneficial. A concluding chapter sets out the CNA's recommendations for reducing poverty and social exclusion among carers, and promoting paid employment and recognition of the value of the work of carers. An appendix contains the questionnaire. References cited at the end of each chapter.

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Up close and personal: a qualitative study exploring the lived experience of older carers

This study explored the experiences of informal carers who were aged 65 years and over. It has been estimated that 15 per cent of those aged 65 or over provide some form of informal care in England. Despite a growing literature on the involvement of older people in research, there is a paucity of literature on the involvement of older carers. In this study, older carers were identified via a General Practice (GP) register in one urban medical practice. Data was collected through a series of focus groups, which were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Every carer aged 55 or over and registered with the medical practice was invited to take part in the study. Four female carers and one male carer took part in the study (age range 65-83). Themes that emerged during data analysis included, 1) managing things in an emergency, 2) feeling valued because they took part in the research and 3) the day-to-day reality of living with social exclusion. GP registers provide a valuable tool for identifying older carers who may otherwise be difficult to engage in research. However, persuading GPs to engage with qualitative research may be a challenge.

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Support for family carers of children and young people with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviour: what stops it being helpful?

Background  Many family carers find the support they receive in respect of their child's challenging behaviour unhelpful. This study sought to identify carer perceptions of the ways in which support is unhelpful and how it could be more helpful.

Methods  Thirteen mothers, caring for a child with intellectual disability and challenging behaviour, were interviewed. Parental perceptions and concerns regarding support received were investigated. Transcribed interviews were analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis.

Results  Parents reported problems with generic disability services including accessing good services, obtaining relevant information, working relationships with professionals and issues with respite provision. Concerns were also expressed about challenging behaviour-specific provision including ineffective strategies being suggested, an apparent lack of expertise, insufficient input and their child's exclusion from services.

Conclusions  More preventative approaches, more widespread adoption of effective behaviour management and improved partnership between professionals and families appear needed. Increasing family support may be ineffective if not accompanied by greater insight into the factors related to effectiveness and recognition of the role of informal support.

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People into Employment: supporting people with disabilities and carers into work

Carers and people with disabilities are two disadvantaged groups at risk of social exclusion. Work is an important route to social inclusion, but carers and people with disabilities are under-represented in the work force. The present paper reports key findings from a new study that evaluated People into Employment (PIE), a pilot employment project in the north-east of England designed to support people with disabilities, carers and former carers in gaining mainstream work. The study aimed to identify what clients, partner agencies and employers perceived to be PIE's most important services, its strengths and areas where there was scope for further development. The study collected quantitative and qualitative data at the mid-point and at the end of the project through two questionnaire surveys, and interviews with PIE clients, the project development officer, partner agencies and employers. Drawing on the ‘pathway model’, the findings show that PIE's interventions included mobilising, matching, mediating and supporting activities. Key ingredients in PIE's success include: tailor-made job-search activities and training; adjusting the pace at which people move towards sustained employment; recognising and responding to the differing needs of people with disabilities, carers and former carers; confidence boosting; accompanying clients to job interviews; good job matching; and ongoing practical and emotional support for both clients and employers. Rudimentary calculations suggest that the cost per job to the project is less than the cost per job for large national projects. Overall, these findings illustrate how access to employment via flexible job-search services geared up to the local labour market can successfully promote social inclusion for carers and people with disabilities.

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Communication and interaction within dementia care triads: developing a theory for relationship-centred care

This article develops an approach towards dementia care that highlights the nature of dementia care triads comprising the person with dementia, their informal carer, and the health and social professional. In particular, the article highlights various social practices that are shown, from our practice, to contribute towards the inclusion or exclusion of particular triad members. The article reviews existing work on triadic interaction, particularly in relationship to dementia care. Various communication processes are identified and illustrated using examples taken from casework. The implications of this approach for theory, practice, education, and research within dementia care are discussed.

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Health economics research into supporting carers of people with dementia: a systematic review of outcome measures

Advisory bodies, such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK, advocate using preference based instruments to measure the quality of life (QoL) component of the quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Cost per QALY is used to determine cost-effectiveness, and hence funding, of interventions. QALYs allow policy makers to compare the effects of different interventions across different patient groups. Generic measures may not be sensitive enough to fully capture the QoL effects for certain populations, such as carers, so there is a need to consider additional outcome measures, which are preference based where possible to enable cost-effectiveness analysis to be undertaken. This paper reviews outcome measures commonly used in health services research and health economics research involving carers of people with dementia. An electronic database search was conducted in PubMed, Medline, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, the National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) and Health Technology Assessment database. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they included an outcome measure for carers of people with dementia. 2262 articles were identified. 455 articles describing 361 studies remained after exclusion criteria were applied. 228 outcome measures were extracted from the studies. Measures were categorised into 44 burden measures, 43 mastery measures, 61 mood measures, 32 QoL measures, 27 social support and relationships measures and 21 staff competency and morale measures. The choice of instrument has implications on funding decisions; therefore, researchers need to choose appropriate instruments for the population being measured and the type of intervention undertaken. If an instrument is not sensitive enough to detect changes in certain populations, the effect of an intervention may be underestimated, and hence interventions which may appear to be beneficial to participants are not deemed cost-effective and are not funded. If this is the case, it is essential that additional outcome measures which detect changes in broader QoL are included, whilst still retaining preference based utility measures such as EQ-5D to allow QALY calculation for comparability with other interventions.

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Social inclusion, social networks and ethnicity: the development of the Social Inclusion Interview Schedule for young people with learning disabilities

The paper reports on the development and piloting of the Social Inclusion Interview Schedule (SIIS). This uses pictures to explore social networks and feelings of social inclusion. The background, conceptual framework and development of the interview schedule are discussed and interim findings are highlighted. The challenge of not just identifying the constituents of a social network but also attributing some measure of intensity to the relationships and activities identified will be considered. The study site is Bradford in the UK and the study population are young people with learning disabilities and their carers. There is a specific focus on people from the South Asian community resident in the city.

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Extending the social exclusion debate: an exploration of the family lives of young carers and young people with ME

In this article the authors explore the day-to-day lives of two groups of young people. Both were the subject of research activities carried out between 1997 and 2000. The outcomes of that work into the lives of young carers and young people with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) have been extensively documented elsewhere; here we draw out some of the common factors that serve to socially isolate and exclude young people who are heavily reliant on, or are drawn into supporting, home-based caring relationships. We argue that the current social exclusion debate's primary focus on the public sphere (with an emphasis on such matters as homelessness and school exclusion) neglects the ways in which young people can experience similar forms of disadvantage in the private sphere. A more critical analysis of the impact of social exclusion on young people requires a wider perspective, which examines and clarifies the interconnectedness of the public and private domains of young people's lives. The research presented in this article highlights the ‘common experience’ of young people’s exclusion in the private and public sphere and raises further issues regarding young people’s invisibility and professional practice and unease when faced with the complexity of young people’s lives.

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The Forgotten Age. Understanding poverty and social exclusion in later life. Interim report

This is a two-part review. Here we present the nature and scale of the challenge our new Government faces if it is to tackle poverty and social exclusion in later life. In publishing this report I would like to thank Sara McKee and the Working Group, as well as Christian Guy, Paul Langlois and James Mumford at the CSJ, for their efforts. The second report, to be published next year, will set out a reform agenda based on this analysis. We are fully aware of the extreme public expenditure pressures that the next years entail, and the review will take these adverse circumstances into account. But let us be clear, our current economic context means it is even more important that we get this right once and for all. 

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Excluded older people: Social Exclusion Unit interim report

The experience of older age should be a positive one. But whilst many older people enjoy the chance for more leisure, learning new things, or spending time with friends and family, others experience isolation and exclusion. The consultation highlighted three key ways in which respondents say provision needs to improve if older people are to enjoy a better quality of life: joined up services are key; intervening early is important, and investment in low level prevention can reduce costlier interventions later; and older people generally know what they need and want, and they should be involved in the design and – where practicable – the delivery of services. This report is split into three sections: a summary of the issues and challenges; social issues from crime to housing, from transport to employment; and the specific needs of carers, those from minority ethnic communities, and at the way in which support for excluded older people is funded.

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Out of the shadows

The author describes how his Private Member's Bill aims to give the UK's seven million carers the opportunity to learn and to develop a life beyond their caring responsibilities.

Paradoxes, locations and the need for social coherence: a qualitative study of living with a learning difficulty

Policy rhetoric over recent decades has promoted social inclusion of the more vulnerable sectors of society, such as people with learning difficulties. This study aimed to describe the experiences of adults with learning difficulties in north-east England and their family and to appraise their care. Thirty-five people with a learning difficulty and/or a family member were interviewed. A model of social coherence was developed that moves beyond the self-limiting debates about social inclusion and exclusion. It is underpinned by a sense of location for the person with a disability in relation to services and carers, family and community, dependency and risk, temporality and space, events, control and society. Key recommendations are for services to know the individual and his/her family; to be responsive to individual needs; to enhance the capacity of families and communities to support people with difficulty in learning; and to help these people to feel more valued.

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Growing up caring: vulnerability and transition to adulthood: young carers' experiences

When young people care for a parent with illness or disability their lives are different. This study 'examines the young carer's transition to adulthood'. The profile of 60 young carers is described; half were in lone parent families. Almost all were performing domestic tasks as well as providing general and/or personal care; some were also caring for younger children. Education, training and employment opportunities were, in reality, not available to them. Most of the families were outside the labour market and received welfare benefits. Social exclusion and poverty were widespread. One third of the families received no services at all. Caring had both positive and negative effects on the young carers who remained at home longer than their peers but matured earlier and had high levels of life skills and stress. The implications for policy and practice emphasize the need for services for these young carers.

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'Young carers' and disabled parents: time for a change of direction?

In less than a decade, children who provide care for ill or disabled parents and siblings have become a major target of social welfare services. 'Young carers' suffer, it is suggested, from a degradation in mental and physical health, have damaged educational careers, restricted social networks, and will suffer long-term consequences in adult life as a result of their childhood caring roles. This paper argues that limited empirical evidence exists for these claims and that, where legitimate concerns arise, they are frequently related to poverty, social exclusion, and unsupported or inadequate parenting, and have no direct relationship to illness or impairment. While dedicated services to young carers have made a valuable contribution in highlighting an important social issue, a radical review of their place in the overall structure of support services for families affected by illness or disability is long overdue.

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P-443 - Social inclusion for the mental health of informal caregivers of Alzheimer disease's patients: The role of reemployment strategies of socially excluded

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the leading causes of dependency among older adults and of institutionalization in Europe. The number of people with AD is estimated in 10 million people and the cost of the disease has been recently estimated in 100.000 million of euros per year in the European Union (European Brain Council, 2011). There is nowadays no effective treatment of the disease. Currently, care of AD patients is primary sustained by informal caregivers who suffer burden as a result of their care responsibilities, and consequently are mainly affected by mental health problems (depression, anxiety, etc). This burden is also related with a premature institutionalization and violence against AD patients. In this sense, effective solutions are needed in order to fight against the mental health problems of informal caregivers. Regarding this, a social innovation research, funded by the Progress Programme of the DG of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, is being developed currently in France and Spain, where the authors are aimed to demonstrate how a specialized formal training in AD addressed to people in risk of labour and social exclusion could improve the quality of life of AD patients and reduce the informal caregiver burden. The results of this research is specially relevant to help to reduce mental health problems of the informal carers of AD patients, but also in terms of intervene on the cognitive skills of the persons affected, as well as to allow the employment of socially excluded people.

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