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Social support and networks

The following resources examine the nature of family, friends and wider community networks able to support carers.

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.

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Resilience and burden in caregivers of older adults: moderating and mediating effects of perceived social support

BACKGROUND: The burden of caring for an older adult can be a form of stress and influence caregivers' daily lives and health. Previous studies have reported that resilience and social support play an important role in reducing physical and psychological burden in caregivers. Thus, the present study aimed to examine whether perceived social support served as a possible protective factor of burden among caregivers of older adults in Singapore using moderation and mediation effects' models. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study with 285 caregivers providing care to older adults aged 60 years and above who were diagnosed with physical and/or mental illness in Singapore. The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) was used to measure resilience and burden was measured by the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI). The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) was used to measure perceived social support. Hayes' PROCESS macro was used to test moderation and mediation effects of perceived social support in the relationship between resilience and burden after controlling for sociodemographic variables. Indirect effects were tested using bootstrapped confidence intervals (CI). RESULTS: The mean scores observed were CD-RISC: 70.8/100 (SD = 15.1), MSPSS: 62.2/84 (SD = 12.2), and ZBI: 23.2/88 (SD = 16.0) respectively. While perceived social support served as a full mediator between resilience and caregiver burden (β = - 0.14, 95% CI -0.224 to - 0.072, p < 0.05), it did not show a significant moderating effect. CONCLUSIONS: Perceived social support mediates the association between resilience and caregiver burden among caregivers of older adults in Singapore. It is crucial for healthcare professionals, particularly those who interact and deliver services to assist caregivers, to promote and identify supportive family and friends' network that may help to address caregiver burden.

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Can We Hit Two Birds with One Stone: An Effectiveness Study of Peer-support Groups for Low-income Spousal and Adult Children Caregivers of Hong Kong Older Adults

This study aims to assess the effectiveness of peer support groups for low-income older adults’ caregivers in the Hong Kong community. It compares the effectiveness of peer support groups on spouse and adult children caregivers. The peer support program was structured into three stages, including six training sessions for peer specialists, eight caregiver support group sessions, and non-structured informal contact. The study adopted a quasi-experiment design supplemented with qualitative data collected from focused group interviews. It involved a user group of 58 participants and a control group of 42 participants. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected before, after the peer support groups, and at a three-month follow-up. The quantitative results showed that the peer support program was more effective in promoting social support for adult children caregivers but not for spousal caregivers. Three focus group interviews suggested that the community-based peer-support group could be helpful to improve stress management, emotional regulation skills, and social networks of the caregivers. Based on the research findings, we discuss the various needs of spousal and adult children caregivers, provide recommendations for service providers and practitioners to consider homogenous group services to address the diverse needs of spousal and adult children caregivers. 

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Carers’ experiences of dementia support groups: A qualitative exploration

Dementia rates are growing (WHO, 2017) and as dementia is associated with a loss of independence, carers are required. Caring for a dementia patient places great demands on the carer’s resources (WHO, 2017). Previous research has indicated that whilst carers are at increased risk of poor mental and physical health (Diener & Chan, 2011; Mahoney, Regan, Katona, & Livingston, 2005; Mausbach, Patterson, Rabinowitz, Grant, & Schulz, 2007), there are some effective protective measures against these increased risks (Cooper et al., 2012; Elvish, Lever, Johnstone, Cawley, & Keady, 2013; Kaufman, Kosberg, Leeper, & Tang, 2010). Aims: This study aimed to evaluate a dementia support group, in relation to protective measures including social and emotional support, in a real-life rural setting from a carers’ perspective. Method: Fourteen informal carers of dementia patients were interviewed about their experiences of attending dementia support groups. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to thematic analysis. Findings: The analysis showed that attendance to the support group was associated with subjective well-being and that social support provided by the group was both stimulating and supportive for the carers. Participants valued the opportunity to share their experiences of being a carer with fellow group members and finding out about resources. Frequently, participants reported that the time period surrounding their loved one receiving a diagnosis of dementia was traumatic and they needed time to adjust to their new circumstances before attending a support group. Conclusions: Implications for wider employment of support groups as a format of support for carers are discussed.

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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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Social support, social participation, & depression among caregivers and non-caregivers in Canada: a population health perspective

Objectives: The study used data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging to investigate the relationships among social support (measured as affectionate support, emotional/informational support, positive social interaction, tangible support), social participation and depression in caregivers and non-caregivers. Method: Hierarchical multiple regression was used to investigate relationships among social support, social participation, and depression. Analyses of variance were used to examine differences in the means of social support, social participation, and depression between the two participant groups. Results: Higher levels of affectionate support, positive social interaction, and social participation were associated with lower depression scores. Social participation was a significant mediator of the relationship between caregiver status and depression. Caregivers reported significantly higher levels of affectionate support, emotional/informational support, positive social interaction, and social participation than non-caregivers. There were no between-group difference in depression scores. Discussion: The study provides support for the beneficial role of social participation in preserving caregiver mental health. Results are discussed in the context of policy and practice implications for caregivers in Canada. 

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Online interventions geared toward increasing resilience and reducing distress in family caregivers

Purpose of review Family caregivers of patients with cancer often spend a great deal of effort on physically and emotionally demanding work while taking care of patients. However, the majority of caregivers are not properly equipped for their role as caregivers, which may lead to increased distress in both caregivers and patients. Herein, we reviewed the recent literature (last 3 years) examining online interventions that seek to support caregiver resilience and decrease distress. Recent findings Our search identified interventions involving three main themes: informational support, positive activities, and social support. These are mostly in the form of web-based tools and mobile apps targeting both usability and quality of life. Social network services are also considered in this review as a new environment for caregivers to connect with other individuals with lived experience in similar circumstances.SummaryExisting studies on online interventions to support caregivers is still at a formative development stage and pilot tests of feasibility, rather than a substantive body of randomized controlled trials to assess the impact in different user populations, or to determine specific factors that impact caregiver distress level or resilience. More research is needed to further assess the long-term effects of online interventions on caregiver stress and resilience. Also, the role of different types of social network services and new forms of interaction, such as conversational agents, has not yet been fully investigated in caregiver populations. Future research should strive to seek new modes of providing services that may present novel opportunities to enhance caregiver resilience and reduce distress. 

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Preliminary Results of Caregiver Speaks: A Storytelling Intervention for Bereaved Family Caregivers

When bereaved cancer caregivers have the opportunity to tell stories about their caregiving and bereavement journey, they are better able to make meaning of these experiences. Creating a space where they can share stories with other bereaved caregivers increases social validation, facilitates the meaning-making process, and reduces distress and risk for complicated grief. This study explored the feasibility and acceptability of an innovative storytelling intervention for bereaved family caregivers of cancer patients. Twenty-one participants engaged in the intervention, and eleven were interviewed about their experience. Results indicated study feasibility and intervention acceptability. Suggestions for future intervention were also provided.

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Psychometric evaluation of the German version of a social support scale of FAFHES (Family Functioning, Family Health and Social Support)

Background Family members often need to be supported in informal care of the elderly and desire to be involved into care planning and decision‐making. Valid and reliable instruments are needed to measure how family members perceive the care and support they receive from nurses for older family members living at home.  Aim The purpose of this study was to translate the 20‐item social support scale of the Family Functioning, Family Health and Social Support (FAFHES) questionnaire from English to German and test the validity and reliability of the scale among Swiss‐German‐speaking family caregivers of home‐dwelling elderly people who receive home healthcare services. Methods A cross‐sectional study was conducted to test the empirical and psychometric properties of the translated and culturally adapted version of the social support questionnaire. A factor analysis with the principal component analysis PCA was used to test construct validity. The internal consistency of items was measured with the Cronbach`s alpha coefficient. Results After a rigorous translation process the original 20‐item questionnaire was adapted into a 19‐item version and tested with family caregivers (n = 207) of home‐dwelling elderly. Psychometric testing of the German version of the social support questionnaire revealed that the three factors – affirmation, affect and concrete aid – were congruent with the original questionnaire. The accounted variance was 79.5% and the internal consistency determined by the Cronbach's alpha was 0.973. Conclusion The German version of the social support scale of the FAFHES questionnaire is a valid and reliable instrument to assess family perceived support on three dimensions – affirmation, affect and concrete aid – received from nursing professionals. The questionnaire should be tested further in other German‐speaking populations.

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Communicative Care in Online Forums: How Burdened Informal Caregivers Seek Mediated Social Support

Health care in aging societies increasingly demands that relatives, partners, or friends provide informal care for loved ones at their end of life. Yet, being an informal caregiver involves significant health threats caused by so-called caregiver burden. To cope with the broad spectrum of challenges, informal caregivers seek social support in the care relationship network emerging around a (future) patient. However, obtaining social support is not limited to offline contexts. Members of online communities also provide experiential knowledge and social support. To explore how informal caregivers seek and provide social support online and how this is interrelated with their care relationship networks, we conducted a qualitative content analysis of 75 threads about advance care planning from German online forums (2003-2017). Our findings show that informal caregivers rely on what we conclusively coined communicative care (i.e., informational and emotional support in burdensome care situations), often in response to impaired offline relationships within care relationship networks.

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Getting back to life after stroke: co-designing a peer-led coaching intervention to enable stroke survivors to rebuild a meaningful life after stroke

Purpose: Rebuilding one’s life after stroke is a key priority persistently identified by patients yet professionally led interventions have little impact. This co-design study constructs and tests a novel peer-led coaching intervention to improve post-stroke leisure and general social participation. Methods: This study followed the principles of co-design by actively engaging and harnessing the knowledge of stroke survivors in order to develop and test a peer-lead coaching intervention. Phase 1 assessed function, mood, and involvement in leisure and social activities 6 months following stroke (n = 79). Phase 2 involved semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 18 stroke survivors, and 10 family carers to explore experiences related to social and leisure participation. Phase 3 tested the co-designed peer-led coaching intervention. Data collected also included co-design feedback sessions and a training workshop with selected peer coaches and in addition, interviews with stroke survivors and their peer coaches at two time-points: following the training program (n = 5) and delivery of the intervention (n = 2). Results: A peer-coaching intervention was successfully co-designed and tested combining the use of lay knowledge sociocognitive and self-regulatory theories with principles of transformational leadership theory. Both peers and stroke survivors reported having benefited at a personal level. Conclusions: This study reports on an innovative community-based and peer-led intervention and its results have generated new evidence on how stroke survivors engage with and respond to peer coaching support. It further provides a theoretical platform for designing and implementing peer interventions. Hence, these results have the potential to inform the development of future peer coaching intervention not only for stroke rehabilitation but also for a wide range of chronic conditions.Implications for rehabilitation The results of this co-design study, if replicated and extended, provide a theoretical framework to guide rehabilitation professionals about the optimal timing of peer-coaching interventions and contextual factors that need to be taken into account. Applying transformational leadership theory principles to the training of peers may prove useful at the time of the implementation of a coaching intervention. Peer-led coaching interventions, which are community-based and tailored to stroke survivors at the time of discharge, may help support re-engagement in social and leisure activities.

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A Snapshot of Social Support Networks Among Parental Caregivers of Adults with Autism

This study provided a description of types and dimensions of informal and formal social support among aging parental caregivers of adult children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents participated in a web-based survey regarding use of and satisfaction with social support services for parents or their adult children. Results indicated that many parents participated in autism support groups (27.5%), with psychiatric services (48.8%), counseling (40.6%), and financial assistance (39.7%) the most commonly used formal social supports. Emotional support (88.8%) and informational support (67.5%) were the most common informal social supports used. Professionals who are working with parental caregivers and their adult children diagnosed with ASD should be aware of available social support services to help them find needed services. 

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Outcomes and change processes of an established family education program for carers of adults diagnosed with a serious mental health condition

Background Family education programs (FEPs) target caregiving-related psychological distress for carers of relatives/friends diagnosed with serious mental health conditions. While FEPs are efficacious in reducing distress, the mechanisms are not fully known. Peer group support and greater mental health knowledge are proposed to reduce carers' psychological distress by reducing stigmatising attitudes and self-blame, and strengthening carers' relationship with their relative. Methods Adult carers (n = 1016) who participated in Wellways Australia's FEP from 2009 to 2016 completed self-report questionnaires at the core program's start and end, during the consolidation period, and at a 6-month follow-up. Those who enrolled early completed questionnaires prior to a wait-list period. We used linear mixed-effects modelling to assess the program's effectiveness using a naturalistic wait-list control longitudinal design, and multivariate latent growth modelling to test a theory-based process change model. Results While there was no significant change over the wait-list period, psychological distress, self-blame and stigmatising attitudes significantly decreased, and communication and relationship quality/feelings increased from the core program's start to its end. Changes were maintained throughout the consolidation period and follow-up. Peer group support significantly predicted the declining trajectory of distress. Peer group support and greater knowledge significantly predicted declining levels of self-blame and stigmatising attitudes, and increasing levels of communication. Conclusions This is the first study to quantitatively validate the mechanisms underlying the effect of FEPs on carers' psychological distress. Peer group support is key in modifying carers' appraisals of their friend/relatives' condition. Continued implementation of FEPs within mental health service systems is warranted. 

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The Quality of Life as a Predictor of Social Support for Multiple Sclerosis Patients and Caregivers

BACKGROUND: Coping with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is challenging. MS is one of the most common causes of nontraumatic disability in young adults, and patients may need assistance with daily life activities. This article explores the relation between quality of life (QOL) and the perceived available social support among patients with MS and their families. METHODS: The study included 120 subjects (60 patient-caregiver dyads). The average age of the patients was 53.95 ± 10.19 years, and for caregivers, it was 50.8 ± 13.3 years. The study used 2 subscales of the Berlin Social Support Scale (perceived availability of social support and need for social support) and the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire for the assessment of QOL. RESULTS: QOL in MS is lower compared with that of their caregivers in all dimensions except the social domain (P < .001, r = 0.54-0.64). A higher need for social support was experienced by caregivers. The need for support in this group is affected by 3 predictors: QOL in the environmental domain and in the physical domain as well as their subjective health. An improvement in QOL in all the domains is related to an increase of perceived available support, in both the group of patients and that of their caregivers (P < .05, ρ = 0.28-0.59). CONCLUSIONS: Perceived available support is of great importance for both patients and their caregivers to enable them to function better in the physical, mental, social, and environmental domains of their QOL, where social relationships play a predictive role.

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Direct and indirect predictors of burden among Bedouin caregivers of family members with terminal cancer in Israel

Objective: The diverse demands of cancer care, which require time, psychological, physical, and material resources, often lead to caregiver burden. Studies with caregivers from ethnic minority groups suggest that they have unique beliefs and may experience different perceptions of role demands and caregiving. The aim of this study was to identify direct and indirect predictors of burden among Bedouin caregivers of family members with terminal cancer in Israel. Methods: A total of 101 Bedouin family caregivers of terminal cancer patients participated in this study. Participants were recruited from the oncology department of the largest medical center in southern Israel. The questionnaire battery included the Arabic version of the Zarit Burden Interview and other reliable measures validated for cancer caregiving. We performed path analyses on data allowing us to identify hypothesized, and un-hypothesized predictors of burden in this understudied population. Results: Most caregivers were adult children, followed by spouses, siblings and other family members. In our model, caregiver burden was directly predicted by depressive symptoms and (absence of) social support. Burden was indirectly predicted by quality of life (via depressive symptoms), optimism (via social support), emotional exhaustion (via quality of life and depressive symptoms) and mortality communication (via emotional exhaustion, quality of life and depressive symptoms). Conclusion: Social support and depression are the most important factors among all studied measures. Culturally-tailored intervention programs are required to foster community care and mitigate burden for Bedouin and other ethnic minority groups in Israel. 

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Cygnus: a psychoeducational group for carers of people with a personality disorder

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance suggests that carers of individuals with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder experience high levels of psychological distress, yet few services in the UK offer specific support to this group of carers. This article will describe the development of a psychoeducational carers' group based on schema theory (Young et al, 2003), including the development of the role of carer experts-by-experience as group co-facilitators. Initial outcome data from the pilot suggest that carers are highly satisfied with the group and that it improves their knowledge, understanding and personal well-being.

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Caring Through COVID: Life in Lockdown

This report sets out the findings of a national survey undertaken by Family Carers Ireland between April 14th and May 5th 2020 which examined family carers’ experience of caring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online survey was completed by 1,307 current family carers representing a range of caring situations – parents caring for children with a disability, those caring for an adult, carers of older people and those caring for multiple people. The survey was open to respondents 18 years and older. As not all respondents completed every question in the survey, a number of the figures given in this report, including those presented here, are based upon responses from fewer than 1,307 carers. A family carer is someone who is providing an ongoing significant level of care to a person who is in need of that care in the home due to illness, disability or frailty.

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Their Last Breath: Death and Dying in a Hmong American Community

Hmong Americans have typically been unwilling to use biomedical palliative care for end-of-life needs. This has resulted in confusion and frustration for Hmong patients, families, and nurses. Hmongs' end-of-life care choices for family members usually involve in-home caregiving provided by the family using a combination of biomedicine and traditional healing methods. Health care decisions are made for the patient by the family and community in this familistic culture. A qualitative approach was used to explore the beliefs that ultimately determine end-of-life care goals and strategies for Hmong patients. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 family caregivers of terminally ill patients and 5 shamans and Hmong funeral officiants. Several themes affecting care choices were identified, including cultural legacies of the responsibility of end-of-life caregiving by the family, the desire for family privacy in caregiving, and the role of community in the care for the dying, as well as completion of the rituals that ensure the soul of the deceased reaches the afterlife. Suggestions for improving communication between Hmongs and biomedical providers include providing information about end-of-life care beliefs and strategies to biomedical care providers and providing information to Hmong patients and families about hospice and palliative care options and services to support family care.

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Social support and depressive symptoms among family caregivers of older people with disabilities in four provinces of urban China: the mediating role of caregiver burden

Background: To examine the relationship between social support and depressive symptoms of Chinese family caregivers of older people with disabilities, and to evaluate the role of caregiver burden as a potential mediator of that relationship.; Methods: A survey questionnaire was completed face-to-face by 567 primary family caregivers of older people with disabilities in four provinces in China. Covariates that may affect depressive symptoms, such as the characteristics of disabled people (socio-economic factors, functional and cognitive capacity) and caregivers (caregiver duration and self-rated health of caregivers) were collected. Social support was measured by the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS); depressive symptoms were assessed by the shortened 10 item version of Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D); and the caregiver burden was assessed by the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI).; Results: The prevalence of depressive symptoms among caregivers was 37.7%. Higher levels of social support was negatively associated with lower depressive symptoms. This relationship was partially mediated by the caregiver burden, where higher levels of the caregiver burden were negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Furthermore, caregivers who were women, spent extended time in caregiving and were in poor health, reported significantly higher depressive symptoms.; Conclusions: Our results indicated that social support was negatively associated with depressive symptoms in family caregivers and in the caregiver burden. The caregiver burden partially mediated the social support-depressive symptoms association. Interventions for family caregivers should include increasing social support, health monitoring and structured interventions to reduce the caregiver burden and attenuate family caregivers' depressive symptoms.

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Primary Caregivers in a Network Context

Objectives Caregiving to individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease and related dementia (ADRD) is a family-systems process where tasks are distributed between multiple caregivers in a network. We evaluate the extent to which multiple network members nominate one another as filling primary caregiver (PCG) roles and factors associated with nomination. Method Data come from the Caregiving Roles and Expectations Networks project, which aimed to characterize the caregiving networks of families affected by ADRD. All persons affected by ADRD were either full-time residents in residential care facilities or community-dwelling adult day-care participants. Generalized Poisson regression was used to model the count of incoming PCG nominations of each network member. Results On average, there were multiple network members identified as PCGs across different network contexts. Network members who were perceived to perform essential caregiving tasks, such as making decisions on behalf of and spending time with the care recipient, received more primary caregiving nominations from their network peers, adjusting for personal attributes, and the context of care. Discussion Having multiple PCGs in a network may result in lack of consensus in who fills those roles, potentially putting families at risk for interpersonal conflicts. Future work aimed at intervention development should fully assess the social contexts surrounding caregiving processes in order to better understand how network composition might impact outcomes.

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Predictors of Depressive Symptoms in Heart Failure Caregivers

Heart failure is a serious and complex chronic illness and family caregivers often assist these individuals in performing self-care. Unsurprisingly, caregivers often are overwhelmed by daily activities associated with heart failure management and frequently have depressive symptoms. This study examined predictors (i.e., sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, social support, social problem-solving, family functioning, and objective and subjective burden) of depressive symptoms in 530 informal caregivers of individuals with heart failure in a large cross-sectional, descriptive study in the community. Younger caregivers who provided care for longer periods of time, lived in rural areas, and had less social support and lower problem-solving skills were more likely to have depressive symptoms. These findings emphasize the need for further studies to develop dynamic and innovative approaches that incorporate multiple components to lessen caregiving challenges. Social support and problem-solving skills training may be useful components to lessen depressive symptoms in these younger, rural caregivers.

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Perceived stress and social support influence anxiety symptoms of Chinese family caregivers of community-dwelling older adults: a cross-sectional study

Aim: Chinese family members always take care of older adults because of obligations stemming from the culture of filial piety and the paucity of a long-term care system. These caregivers usually perceive high levels of stress that could compromise their psychological health and consequently result in anxiety impairments. This study aimed to assess the anxiety symptoms of Chinese family caregivers of older adults, explore factors associated with these symptoms, and provide theoretical evidence on improving their mental health.; Methods: A questionnaire survey was conducted face-to-face with caregivers of community-dwelling older adults. The survey asked about the demographic characteristics of the caregivers and older adults, objective caregiving loads, and social support and included the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale.; Results: Anxiety symptoms were present in 43.1% of caregivers. The R2 changes indicated that the incremental variance explained by each block of variables was 9.8%, 5.0%, 0.7%, 17.6%, and 2.1% for demographic characteristics of caregivers, demographic characteristics of older adults, objective caregiving loads, perceived stress, and social support, respectively. Perceived stress was the strongest predictor of anxiety symptoms, and social support was positively associated with anxiety symptoms. Factors associated with caregivers' anxiety symptoms were having a chronic disease and living with older adults, as well as older adults' weight, hours of sleep, and education level.; Conclusion: Chinese family caregivers of older adults experienced higher levels of anxiety symptoms. Perceived stress could aggravate these symptoms, but social support might assist in alleviating anxiety symptoms from the stress of caregiving.

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Optimism as a key to improving mental health in family caregivers of people living with Alzheimer's disease

Objective: The aim of the present work was to study the serial multiple mediating role of optimism, perceived social support and subjective burden in the relationship between objective burden and psychological distress in caregivers of people with Alzheimer´s Disease (AD). Method: One hundred and forty family caregivers of people living with AD were recruited from randomly selected Alzheimer Association Centres. They answered the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R), the Functional Social Support Questionnaire (DUKE.UNC), the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) and questions relating to gender, age and the amount of time spent on daily caregiving. Results: Results indicated that objective burden and subjective burden were both high in these caregivers. Optimism mediated on psychological distress through social support and through subjective burden with a full mediation role. When comparisons between indirect effects were performed, optimism was the mediator with the greatest effect between objective burden and psychological distress. Conclusion: This study highlights the indirect role of optimism and the advantages that interventions in optimism training in the early stages of the person with AD could produce. Thus, alleviating subjective burden and increasing perceived social support, which would lead to an improvement in the mental health of family caregivers of people with AD.

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Online social support groups for informal caregivers of hospice patients with cancer

Purpose: Social support is an important factor in reducing caregiver burden, however, accessing social support via traditional means is often challenging for family caregivers of hospice patients. Online support groups may offer an effective solution. The present study sought to understand dynamics of online social support among family and other informal (e.g., friends) caregivers of hospice cancer patients in an online social support group. The primary aim of the study was to identify types of online social support and support-seeking behaviors, with a secondary aim to understand informal hospice caregivers’ preferences for social support. Method: Data used in this study were collected as part of a federally funded randomized clinical trial of an informal hospice cancer caregiver support intervention. Findings are based on directed and conventional content analysis of support group members' posts and comments—including text and images—and a sample of caregivers’ exit interviews. Results: Analyses demonstrated that the majority of online support provided by group members was emotional support, followed by companionship support, appraisal support, and informational support. Instrumental support was rarely provided. Support was primarily elicited in an indirect manner through self-disclosure and patient updates, with few overt requests for support. Conclusions: Findings suggest online social support groups can be a valuable resource for informal caregivers who are in need of emotional support and lack the ability to access face-to-face support groups. Clinical implications of this research to healthcare systems regarding the importance of incorporating nurses and other medical professionals as co-facilitators of online support groups are discussed. 

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Objective and Subjective Dementia Caregiving Burden: The Moderating Role of Immanent Justice Reasoning and Social Support

Caregiving burden significantly effects the physical and mental health of family dementia caregivers. While the association between objective caregiving burden (OCB) and subjective caregiving burden (SCB) of family dementia caregivers is well documented, little is known as with how the association is moderated by the configuration of intrapersonal resource (e.g., immanent justice reasoning) and interpersonal resource (e.g., social support). The present study collected cross-sectional data on 157 major family caregivers of non-institutionalized persons with dementia in an urbanizing region of Western China's Sichuan Province. They responded to questions on daily time spent on caregiving, the short version of Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI), a sub-scale of a caregiver meaning scale, Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS), and demographic questions. Controlling for the demographic variables of the caregivers, this study found that the objective and subjective dementia caregiving burden were significantly associated (p < 0.001), and immanent justice reasoning was positively correlated with subjective burden (p < 0.01). Moreover, the association between OCB and SCB was significantly positive when social support and immanent justice reasoning were both high (p < 0.001), but neutral when social support was high and immanent justice reasoning was low. The association between OCB and SCB was significantly positive when social support and immanent justice reasoning were both low (p < 0.05), but neutral when social support was low and immanent justice reasoning was high. This research suggests the importance of developing intervention programs that consider the configuration of the external supporting resources and internal meaning-making of caregiving of the family dementia caregivers.

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The Care of "Small Things": Aging and Dignity in Rwanda

In Rwanda, disruptions to family and social life as a result of the 1994 genocide, and the economic transformations in its aftermath, have complicated the fabric of elder care across the country. In this article, I focus on how elderly Rwandans are reconfiguring their care networks - many of which were destroyed during the genocide - by acting as caregivers and care receivers for each other on a daily basis. Although emotionally and physically taxing, elderly Rwandans emphasize that the "small things" embedded in the giving and receiving of care are intricately connected to how personal and collective dignity is cultivated. 

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Community Social Capital and Positive Caregiving Experiences Among Adult-Children Caregivers of Older Adults With Disabilities in Urban China

The present study aimed to examine the association between community social capital and positive caregiving experiences among adult-children caregivers of disabled older adults in urban China. Data for this study were derived from the 2016 wave of the Longitudinal Study on Family Caregivers for Frail Older Adults Aged 75 or Above in Shanghai. The final analysis featured 440 disabled older adult and adult-children caregiver dyads. Multiple indicators and multiple causes modeling was used to test the proposed model from a structural equation modeling perspective. Provision of support to others was significantly associated with self-affirmation. Citizenship activity was significantly associated with life enrichment. Support of units (i.e., employers) was significantly associated with self-affirmation and life enrichment. The findings support the integration of the stress process model and social capital theory and highlight the important role of community social capital in enhancing the subdimensions of positive caregiving experiences. Policy and intervention implications are discussed.

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The relationships among insecure attachment, social support and psychological experiences in family caregivers of cancer inpatients

Purpose: To explore the psychological experiences of the family caregivers of inpatients with gastric cancer or colorectal cancer, and to identify the relationships among insecure attachment, social support, and psychological experiences. Methods: The study design is a cross-sectional quantitative study collecting data through the use of four questionnaires, including the Hospital Anxiety & Depression Scale, the Self-esteem subscale of the Caregiver Reaction Assessment Scale, the Experience in Close Relationship Scale and the Social Support Rating Scale. Hierarchical regression analysis and path analysis were used to analyze the collected data. Results: Data from 207 participants was used. Family caregivers had experienced both depression and high self-esteem. Social support has significant direct effects on both depression and self-esteem. Attachment anxiety had direct effects on depression and social support, attachment avoidance had direct effects on self-esteem and social support. Social support has mediated the relationship between adult attachment and psychological experiences. Conclusions: Caregivers had experienced both negative and positive psychological outcomes. There were differences in the effects of insecure attachment on psychological experiences. Social support plays an important role in the relationships among insecure attachment, depression, and self-esteem. Insecure attachment styles and social support should be considered in tailored interventions for family caregivers to reduce their depression and enhance their self-esteem. 

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Trajectories of social resource use among informal lung cancer caregivers

Background: Social support is a key component in maintaining cancer caregiver well-being, and many resources exist to facilitate caregivers' use of social support (eg, cancer support groups). This study sought to determine how informal cancer caregivers use social resources over the course of caregiving.; Methods: The data are from the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System study of informal caregivers (n = 202) of patients with recently diagnosed lung cancer. Caregivers self-reported their sociodemographic and caregiving characteristics and social resource use over 6 months. Generalized additive models were used to assess social resource use over time, and generalized estimating equation logistic regression models were used to assess the correlates of social resource use.; Results: Nearly two-thirds of caregivers reported any social resource use. The most prevalent social resources were faith-based groups (38%) and social clubs (30%). Only 1 in 4 caregivers participated in a formal resource such as counseling (11%) or a cancer support group (6%). Social resource use was lowest immediately after the diagnosis and increased over time. Formal resource use exhibited a nonlinear association with time such that formal resource use peaked approximately 9 to 10 months after the cancer diagnosis. Caregivers were more likely to report social resource use if the patient also reported social engagement.; Conclusions: This study has found that many cancer caregivers do not use social resources, although social resource use increases over time after the cancer diagnosis. Because of the association between social engagement and well-being, this information may inform future research and interventions to improve outcomes for cancer caregivers and their families.

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Social Participation and Health Outcomes Among Caregivers and Noncaregivers in Great Britain

This study investigates the relationship between social participation and health outcomes between caregivers and noncaregivers in Great Britain. Previous studies indicate that the impact of informal caregiving on the carer's health is complex, and the intensity of care provision has an adverse impact on the caregivers' health, while social participation could have a protective role in this respect. Using qualitative and quantitative data from Wave 8 of the 1958 National Child Development Study, the analysis shows that social participation has a positive effect on the carers' mental health and subjective well-being. Individuals who did not engage in social participation reported lower levels of mental health and control, autonomy, self-realization and pleasure (CASP) scores than those engaged in social participation. The qualitative results showed the barriers to social participation of caregivers to be time, energy, and finance. We discuss ways in which the government could address such barriers to improve the level of social participation among caregivers.

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Social networks of caregivers of patients with primary malignant brain tumor

Family caregivers are increasingly recognized as a vital part of the comprehensive treatment of cancer. Many caregivers, especially those caring for patients with primary malignant brain tumor (PMBT), report feeling overwhelmed by providing care. Social support can be protective for caregiving, but there is little research on the composition of social networks of caregivers. The research describes these social networks. Caregivers were recruited from a neuro-oncology clinic at an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the United States from May to August 2017. Caregivers listed social network resources that they either have approached or could approach for help in six caregiving areas. Twenty-eight caregivers provided social network data. Most caregivers had at least some support in each category, with the most people in hands on and emotional support. Communication and financial support were less populated and were most likely to have no resources listed. Most resources were unique to one support category, but a smaller number of resources provided multiple types of support. Our data provide information for targeting interventions to address support needs in caregivers of patients with PMBT. These findings also represent the first time the compositions of the social networks of caregivers of patients with PMBT have been presented. 

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The role of internet-based digital tools in reducing social isolation and addressing support needs among informal caregivers: a scoping review

Background: In Canada, 8.1 million people informally provide care without payment, primarily to family members; 6.1 million of them are employed at a full-time or part-time job. Digital technologies, such as internet-based tools, can provide informal caregivers' access to information and support. This scoping review aimed to explore the role of internet-based digital tools in reducing social isolation and addressing support needs among informal caregivers.; Methods: A systematic search for relevant peer-reviewed literature was conducted of four electronic databases, guided by Arksey and O'Malley's framework. An extensive search for relevant grey literature was also conducted.; Results: The screening process yielded twenty-three papers. The following themes were generated from the reviewed studies: searching for and receiving support; gaining a sense of social inclusion and belonging; and benefits and challenges of web-based support. The studies noted that, to connect with peers and obtain social support, informal caregivers often turn to online platforms. By engaging with peers in online communities, these caregivers reported regaining a sense of social inclusion and belonging.; Conclusions: The findings suggest that internet-based digital tools can be a cost-effective and convenient way to develop programs that help unpaid caregivers form communities, gain support, and access resources. Service providers can leverage digital tools to deliver support to caregivers within online communities.

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Psychosocial Support in Liver Transplantation: A Dyadic Study With Patients and Their Family Caregivers

Background and aims: Liver transplantation provides an opportunity of survival for patients with liver failure; however, this procedure is known to be psychologically and physically fatiguing for patients and their informal caregivers. The aim of this study was to investigate how perceived social support and the distribution of dependency were associated with the psychological wellbeing of patients waiting for liver transplantation and their caregivers, as a dyad. Methods: The present was a cross-sectional study. Ninety-five participants were recruited at a hospital in Northern Italy, during the psychological evaluation for inclusion in the transplantation list: 51 patients (19 with alcohol-related illness) and 44 family caregivers. Both patients and caregivers filled in a Symptom Checklist and Kelly's Dependency Grids. Patients also compiled the Medical Outcome Study Social-Support Survey, and caregivers compiled the Family Strain Questionnaire Short-Form. Results: Caregivers reported important levels of strain and strongly related to a worsening of their own and patients' symptoms. Patients with alcohol-related pathologies had a narrower social network, which corresponded to an increase in family strain. On the sample as a whole, regression analyses showed that perceived social support and dependency measures did not predict patients' and caregivers' symptoms. Nevertheless, cluster analysis identified a group of caregivers who distributed their dependency more and experienced lower levels of depression, anxiety, and strain. Conclusions: These results suggest the usefulness of a dyadic approach in the research, prevention, and care of liver diseases. A deeper comprehension of the functioning of dyads will help practitioners in the identification of situations at risk.

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Post-Traumatic Growth among Family Caregivers of Cancer Patients and Its Association with Social Support and Hope

Background: Cancer not only is a traumatic experience for the patients, but also can affect the family caregivers. Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to positive psychological changes experienced by people as a result of a struggle in dealing with traumatic events in life. Both the patients and their caregivers may experience PTG. The present study aimed to assess the extent of PTG in caregivers of patients with gastrointestinal cancer and to examine the relationship between the PTG dimensions and both the social support (SS) and hope.; Methods: The present descriptive correlational study was conducted during May-August 2018 in Shiraz, Iran. The target population included 112 caregivers who visited hospitals affiliated to Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. Data collection instruments included a demographic information form, post-traumatic growth inventory, social support appraisals scale, and Miller hope scale. The data were analyzed using the SPSS software (version 23.0). P<0.05 was considered statistically significant.; Results: The mean score for PTG, hope, and SS was 75.41±16.49, 190.95±24.20, and 89.10±12.84, respectively. A significant positive correlation was found between PTG and both SS (P<0.001, r=0.59) and hope (P<0.001, r=0.70). The results of the multiple regression analysis showed a significant relationship between PTG, SS, and hope (P<0.001). Hope had a higher effect on PTG (ẞ=0.62) compared to SS (ẞ=0.27).; Conclusion: The results showed a good level of PTG among the caregivers and the experience of stressful situations positively affected their psychological condition. The positive change was associated with the perceived SS and hope.

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Meeting centres support programme highly appreciated by people with dementia and carers: a European cross-country evaluation

Background: The Meeting Centres Support Programme (MCSP) offers a combined approach to providing practical, emotional and social support to people living with mild to moderately severe dementia and their family carers in the community. Methods: A mixed methods explanatory design was used. The evaluation took place within the framework of the international Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) - MEETINGDEM study in nine Meeting Centres in Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. Eighty-seven people with dementia and 81 family carers completed a user evaluation survey after three months and 83 people with dementia and 84 carers after 6 months of participation in MCSP. Thirty-two people with dementia and 30 carers took part in focus groups after nine months. Results: The percentage of people with dementia who were very satisfied with the programme increased significantly over time (p = 0.05). The majority of carers reported that they felt less burdened after three months of participation in MCSP (48.1% much less; 35.4% a little less). After six months, this percentage increased significantly to 91% (p = 0.04, 57.7% much less; 33.3% little less). Focus group analysis showed that people with dementia and carers in all countries/centres improved their ability to maintain emotional balance. Conclusions: The MCSP is highly appreciated by people with dementia and carers in all countries and it confirms the results of previous research into MCSP in the Netherlands. Our findings indicate that MCSP is a model that can help its users to increase their capacity to deal with the challenges caused by dementia and can promote emotional balance.

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An Investigation of the Interaction Patterns of Peer Patrons on an Online Peer-Support Portal for Informal Caregivers of Alzheimer's Patients

Online peer support portals are an effective way for informal caregivers to obtain support from the comfort of their homes. Having realized a dearth of research focusing on users of healthcare peer-support portals, this study focused on top contributors, termed as 'peer patrons', on one such portal. In order to understand their contribution in helping caregivers cope with their situation and to investigate any unique patterns of interaction, a qualitative thematic analysis was carried out on 1405 openly available comments on an online peer support group for informal caregivers of Alzheimer's patients. The analysis revealed five themes related to content of peer patrons' interaction with other portal members - Advice provider, information source, shoulder to cry on, portal star, and caregiver advocate. An additional theme related to the structure of the responses by peer patrons was also uncovered. In order to explain their contribution to these portals, parallels were drawn between the Stress and Coping model as applied to Dementia caregivers to show that peer patrons may be contributing towards caregivers' coping mechanisms. 

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Factors influencing engagement in an online support group for family caregivers of individuals with advanced cancer

Objective: To explore factors that influenced engagement in an online support group (OSG) for family caregivers of hospice patients with cancer. Design: Secondary qualitative data analysis. Sample: 58 family caregivers of hospice patients with advanced cancer. Methods: Template analysis of individual family caregiver interviews. Findings: Emotional isolation and caregiving downtime positively influenced engagement, while reluctance to share personal information, a short timeframe of participation in the OSG, and caregiving commitments were negatively influential. While the group facilitation and secure privacy settings of the OSG were viewed positively, reactions to the OSG platform and group tone were mixed. Information on pain and the dying process was found to be particularly engaging. Practice implications: Providers offering OSGs for family caregivers should maximize factors that promote meaningful member engagement, responding to changes in activity and tone over time.

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Exploring positive aspects of caregiving in family caregivers of adult ICU survivors from ICU to four months post-ICU discharge

Background: Despite growing attention to the positive meaning from ICU survivorship, little is known about positive experience among family caregivers of ICU survivors.; Objectives: To explore positive aspects of caregiving in family caregivers from patients' ICU admission to 4-month post-ICU discharge.; Methods: A secondary analysis of data from 47 family caregivers of ICU patients who self-reported the measure, Positive Aspects of Caregiving (PAC, 11-item, score range 11-55).; Results: Family caregivers rated their experience as positive overall across the time points (mean 42.42-44.95). Trends of higher mean PAC scores were observed in caregivers who were older than 50 years of age, parent or sibling of patients, not working, had religious background or preference, and had no financial difficulty. Better social support and psychological responses were associated with PAC.; Conclusion: In our sample, family caregivers of ICU survivors rated their caregiving experience as positive during the ICU and post-ICU periods.

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Communal Orientation, Benefit-finding, and Coping among Young Carers

A substantial body of research documents the impact of informal care on adult caregivers' wellbeing, but little is known of the experiences of young carers who attend postsecondary schools in Canada. Despite the estimated 1.25 million young people ages 15–24 assuming caregiving roles in Canada, young carers are a hidden and largely unsupported demographic in Canada. To gain a better understanding of young caregiving in Canada, the current study explores the role of communal orientation, benefit-finding, life satisfaction, and family satisfaction among young student carers. Further, we examine the mediating role of diverse coping strategies to better understand how communal orientation may be associated with wellbeing. One hundred and thirty-seven participants were recruited from two Canadian universities, and data were collected through online surveys. Results showed that while communal orientation and the use of coping strategies were positively associated with benefit finding, communal orientation was negatively associated with life satisfaction and family satisfaction. Use of instrumental support mediated the association of communal orientation with benefit finding. The findings suggest a communal orientation may help young carers find benefit in the caregiving role by enhancing the use of instrumental support coping strategies. 

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Characteristics and Consequences of Family Support in Latino Dementia Care

The purpose of this study is to explore variations in family support for Latino dementia caregivers and describe the role of the family in dementia caregiver stress processes. Content analysis is utilized with themes derived inductively from 16 in-depth interviews with Latino caregivers recruited in California from 2002 to 2004. Three types of family support are described: extensive (instrumental and emotional support from family, n = 3), limited (instrumental support from one family member, n = 7), and lacking (no support from family, n = 6). Most caregivers report limited support, high risk for burnout and distress, and that dementia-related neuropsychiatric symptoms are obstacles to family unity. Caregivers with extensive support report a larger family size, adaptable family members, help outside of the family, and formalized processes for spreading caregiving duties across multiple persons. Culturally competent interventions should take into consideration diversity in Latino dementia care by (a) providing psychoeducation on problem solving and communication skills to multiple family members, particularly with respect to the nature of dementia and neuropsychiatric symptoms, and by (b) assisting caregivers in managing family tensions - including, when appropriate, employing tactics to mobilize family support.

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Hopelessness, Death Anxiety, and Social Support of Hospitalized Patients With Gynecologic Cancer and Their Caregivers

Background Gynecologic cancer can create hopelessness and death anxiety and alter the lifestyle of the affected women and their caregivers. Perceived social support may facilitate coping with this illness. Objective The aim of this study was to determine whether hospitalized patients with gynecologic cancer and their caregivers differ in feelings of hopelessness and death anxiety and how those conditions may be related to their social support. Methods Two hundred patients with gynecologic cancer and their 200 caregivers from 1 university hospital were enrolled in this descriptive correlational study. Study measures included a demographic form, the Perceived Social Support Scale, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and the Thorson-Powell's Death Anxiety Scale. Data were analyzed using Student t test, Pearson correlation test, and linear regression analyses. Results Patients had higher hopelessness and death anxiety compared with caregivers (P < .001). Patients' perceived social support explained 35% of the total variance in hopelessness and 28% of the variance in death anxiety; caregivers' perceived social support explained 40% of the total variance in hopelessness and 12% of the variance in death anxiety. Conclusion Patients felt hopelessness and death anxiety in greater rates than caregivers. Social support had a significant effect on hopelessness and death anxiety of patients and their caregivers. Implications for Practice Nurses, who are the healthcare professionals spending time with patients and families from diagnosis forward, need to evaluate patients and their caregivers for hopelessness and death anxiety and consider their social support systems during this evaluation.

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Challenges, personal growth and social support among family caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients in Southern China

The purpose of this study was to obtain a deeper understanding of the experiences of family caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients in Shenzhen, Southern China. This study sought to describe how being the main caregiver influences family caregivers’ daily lives. This article reports on the findings from individual interviews with 20 family caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients. The interview transcripts were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis, which revealed that caring for a cancer patient over the course of his or her illness significantly affected many aspects of family caregivers’ lives. Three major themes were identified in their experiences: (1) challenges, (2) personal growth, and (3) social support. In exploring these themes, this article offers insights into family caregivers’ experiences in Southern China, particularly among family members of terminally ill cancer patients and presents implications for future professional practice, especially oncology social work. 

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Offspring Caregivers of Chinese Women with Breast Cancer: Their Social Support Requests and Provision on Social Media

Background: Although a number of studies have examined social support needs among women with breast cancer, little attention has been paid to the burden and needs for social support among their family caregivers, who often report mental and physical problems associated with caregiving. Objective: This study aims to examine the role of social media in providing social support for offspring caregivers of breast cancer patients. Methods: A peer support group, "Having a breast cancer patient in my family," was created on Douban (www.douban.com), one of China's most popular social media sites, to provide social support to family caregivers of women with breast cancer. We analyzed the content of 784 messages in the discussion threads where the latest update fell between January 2017 and July 2017. Results: The results revealed that the majority of messages (n = 690, 88.0%) provided or requested social support, and more than 64.5% of these messages (n = 445) were posted by caregivers who were offspring of the cancer patients. The results also suggested that these caregivers requested and provided informational support more frequently than they did emotional and instrumental support. Conclusions: This study suggests that social media could be a plausible platform for offspring caregivers of breast cancer patients to share caregiving experiences, access informational resources for their care recipients, gain knowledge about breast cancer prevention, and obtain emotional encouragement. Theoretical as well as practical implications are discussed.

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The Family Support Movement and Schizophrenia in India

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To review the evolution of family support movement for schizophrenia in India and to report perspectives of family caregivers who are running family support groups across the country in the backdrop of recent legislations in India. RECENT FINDINGS: Family support movement started in the 1990s, mostly by family caregivers independently in multiple cities across the country. Apart from periodic support meetings, they have successfully influenced recent legislations to address the felt needs of families. Mental health professionals need to gain skills to work collaboratively with assertive family caregivers to develop services to support those diagnosed with mental illness. Though there is a need for such movement, funding is poor and very few caregivers of persons with schizophrenia are forthcoming to participate. The formation of national federation with government and non-government partnership could help give the required impetus to the family support movement for persons with schizophrenia in India.

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Increasing Caregiver Access to Programming: A Qualitative Exploration of Caregivers' Experience of a Telehealth Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program

Family caregivers can benefit from education-based wellness programs, but many face barriers to attending such programs. The purpose of this research was to explore telehealth as a delivery format for an education-based caregiver wellness program. This qualitative research examined the caregiver experience of a specific program called Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC). The traditionally in-person program was delivered via telehealth in four states. Twelve caregivers participated in focus groups the week after completing the telehealth PTC program. Three major themes emerged from the focus groups: Knowledge Gained, Interrelatedness, and Technology Pros and Cons. All affirmed a positive experience of the telehealth delivered PTC program. Participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the program and knowledge gained including relaxation techniques, communication skills, resources to support caregiving, and goal setting for self-care. Furthermore, participants were appreciative of the opportunity to connect with other caregivers from the comfort of their home.

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Mediating effect of social support on the relationship between resilience and burden in caregivers of people with dementia

Objective: This study examined different predictive factors of burden in a sample of family caregivers of patients with dementia (PWD). In particular, the influence of social support and resilience on burden was tested, considering potential mediation effects. Methods: A total of 283 primary and family caregivers in Spain were evaluated using a standardized protocol to assess sociodemographic characteristics, clinical state of PWD and specific variables of caregiving and care providers. Results: The role of caregiver of PWD was more common in women, reporting significantly higher levels of burden than men. Resilience and social support accounted for most of the variance in burden. Furthermore, social support partially mediated the relationship between resilience and burden in caregivers. Conclusions: Caregivers’ resilience and social support are protective factors against burden in caregivers of PWD. Both factors should be considered for tailored interventions aimed at reducing the health costs of burden in this population. 

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Incorporating Facebook into Nonprofit Supports for Family Caregivers: Reflections on its Value and Relevance

Social media has a role in the lives of many family carers. We present a case study of Facebook (FB) use in Care Alliance Ireland, a small Irish not-for-profit carer support organization. In 2012, in its role as coordinator of National Carers Week, Care Alliance Ireland set up a Facebook page to increase reach and awareness of the week amongst family caregivers who used Facebook. Philanthropic donations in the early years of FB use enabled the large-scale and relatively efficient recruitment of followers through targeted social media ads. By July 2018, the organization’s FB page had secured upwards of 18,500 followers, over 75% of whom report as being either current or former family carers. This article posits that regular, considered, and varied posts offer a level of support and affirmation for the caring role that has a large reach, is cost effective, and represents an effective quasi-social work intervention. 

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Factors associated with marital satisfaction and quality of life in family caregivers of patients with mental disorders

(1) Background: The aim of this research was to analyze factors associated with quality of life (QoL) and marital satisfaction in married family caregivers of patients with mental disorders. (2) Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in all community mental health services in Goiania municipality, Brazil, in 2016–2017. Married family caregivers of patients with severe and persistent mental disorders were recruited and their QoL and marital satisfaction was assessed by using the World Health Organization Quality of Life Instrument Abbreviated version (WHOQOL-BREF) and Marital Satisfaction Scale. Multiple linear regressions were performed to identify factors associated with QoL and marital satisfaction. (3) Results: For 163 family caregivers, the psychological and environmental QoL domains presented the best and the worst scores, respectively. Factors independently associated with better QoL for caregivers were male caregiver, the younger age of a caregiver, >8 years of schooling, ≥5 years as a caregiver who performed physical activities, caregiver without chronic disease, and no patient’s crisis in the last 30 days. Factors independently associated with marital satisfaction of the caregiver were male caregiver, caregiver with >8 years of schooling, caregiver who received support by relatives to care for the patient, caregiver who performed physical activities, no patient’s crisis in the last 30 days, and patient hospitalization in the last six months; (4) Conclusions: The main predictor for marital satisfaction was support by relatives, and for QoL it was no patient’s crisis in the last 30 days. 

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Correlates of social support on report of probable common mental disorders in Zimbabwean informal caregivers of patients with stroke: A cross-sectional survey

Objective: Stroke is a major global public health burden. Unfortunately, stroke invariably leads to functional limitations, consequently, most stroke survivors are hugely dependent on family members/informal caregivers in carrying out essential daily activities. The increased demands of caregiving negatively impact caregivers' mental health. Nevertheless, caregivers who receive an adequate amount of social support are likely to adjust better to the caregiving role. We sought to determine the impact of social support on the mental wellbeing of 71 caregivers of patients with stroke in Zimbabwe, a low-resourced country. Results: The mean caregiver age was 41.5 (SD 13.8) years. Patients had a mean age of 65.2 (SD 15.3) years with most being functionally dependent (93.2%). 45.1% of the caregivers showed excessive psychiatric morbidity. The mean Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) score was 44 (SD 9.4), denoting high levels of social support. Caregivers who received an adequate amount of social support were likely to report of lower psychiatric morbidity (Rho = - 0.285, p = 0.016). Furthermore, caregiver who were; poorer, were caring for more functionally-dependent patients, and did not receive additional assistance were likely to report of poor mental health functioning. There is therefore a strong need to implement context-specific caregivers wellness programs. 

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Communal responsibility: a history of health collectives in Australia

Healthcare encompasses multiple discourses to which health professionals, researchers, patients, carers and lay individuals contribute. Networks of patients and non-professionals often act collectively to build capacity, enhance access to resources, develop understanding and improve provision of care. This article explores the concept of health collectives and three notable examples that have had an enduring and profound impact in the Australian context. 

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Psychosocial singing interventions for the mental health and well-being of family carers of patients with cancer: Results from a longitudinal controlled study

Objective The mental health challenges facing people who care for somebody with cancer are well documented. While many support interventions focus on provision of information or cognitive behavioural therapy, the literature suggests that psychosocial interventions could also be of value, especially given the low social support frequently reported by carers. Singing is a psychosocial activity shown to improve social support, increase positive emotions, and reduce fatigue and stress. This study explored whether weekly group singing can reduce anxiety, depression and well-being in cancer carers over a 6-month period. Design A multisite non-randomised longitudinal controlled study. Setting The Royal Marsden National Health Service Trust in Greater London. Participants 62 adults who currently care for a spouse, relative or close friend with cancer who had not recently started any psychological therapy or medication. Interventions On enrolment, participants selected to join a weekly community choir for 12 weeks (n=33) or continue with life as usual (n=29). Outcome measures The primary outcome was mental health using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The secondary outcome was well-being using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. Using linear mixed effects models, we compared the change in mental health and well-being over time between the two groups while adjusting for confounding variables including demographics, health-related variables, musical engagement and length of time caring. Results Participants in the choir group showed a significantly greater decrease in anxiety over time than participants in the control group (B=-0.94, SE=0.38, p=0.013) and a significantly greater increase in well-being (B=1.25, SE=0.49, p=0.011). No changes were found for depression. Sub-group analyses showed carers with anxiety or below-Average well-being were most likely to benefit. Conclusions This study builds on previous research showing the mental health benefits of singing for people with cancer by showing that weekly singing can also support anxiety and well-being in cancer carers. 

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Predictors of Symptoms Remission Among Family Caregivers of Individuals With Dementia Receiving REACH VA

Resources for Enhancing All Caregivers Health (REACH VA) is a behavioral intervention for caregivers of individuals with dementia disseminated in the VA. Although shown to improve caregiver and care recipient outcomes, some caregivers continue to experience depression or caregiver burden following the intervention. Factors that predict symptom remission following REACH VA are unknown. The present study investigated attachment, social support, and psychopathology as predictors of symptom remission for family caregivers who completed REACH VA. Caregivers who do not remit perceive lower levels of social support from loved ones, endorse poorer attachment quality, and have more personality disorder characteristics, particularly affective instability. These factors that impair caregivers’ abilities to be effectively attuned to the needs of their care recipients and to reap benefits from a brief and focused behavioral intervention such as REACH VA. Interventions that target caregiver interpersonal functioning and emotion regulation skills may be helpful to those who do not respond to REACH VA. 

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Internet use for family carers of people with intellectual disabilities: A literature review and thematic synthesis

Being a family carer can be rewarding but can also lead to mental and physical exhaustion as well as feelings of social exclusion and isolation. Research has shown that the use of the Internet and online forums can provide an immediate place to find information and reassurance and that forum use can be an empathetic place to share experiences and seek emotional support. This article details a systematic literature search of research on carers of people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism using the Internet. A thematic synthesis of the resulting papers identified that online forums give carers a sense of agency by providing a place to go for informational support that may not be elsewhere. Carers also enjoyed the safe community of solidarity and emotional support that online forums provide. An important finding is the lack of published papers in this area with the inclusion of just eight papers.

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In Their Own Words: Experiences of Caregivers of Adults With Cancer as Expressed on Social Media

PURPOSE: To explore caregivers' writings about their experiences caring for adult individuals with cancer on a social media health communication website. PARTICIPANTS & SETTING: Journal entries (N = 392) were analyzed for 37 adult caregivers who were posting on behalf of 20 individuals with cancer. CaringBridge is a website used by patients and informal caregivers to communicate about acute and chronic disease. METHODOLOGIC APPROACH: A retrospective descriptive study using qualitative content analysis of caregivers' journal entries from 2009 to 2015. FINDINGS: Major categories identified in caregivers' online journals included patient health information, cancer awareness/advocacy, social support, caregiver burden, daily living, emotions (positive and negative), and spirituality. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Nurses often recommend using social media as a communication strategy for patients with cancer and their caregivers. The findings from this study provide potential guidance nurses may wish to offer caregivers. For example, nurses may talk with caregivers about how and what to post regarding treatment decisions. In addition, nurses can provide support for caregivers struggling with when and how often to communicate on social media.

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Dementia-friendly community indicators from the perspectives of people living with dementia and dementia-family caregivers

Aims: To identify dementia-friendly communities' indicators and their current conditions in Taiwan from the perspectives of people with dementia and dementia-family caregivers.; Design: This qualitative study explored the opinions and experiences of people with dementia and dementia-family caregivers regarding dementia-friendly communities.; Methods: Participants (16 people with dementia and 20 family caregivers) were recruited from neurological clinics, day care centers for people with dementia and support groups for family caregivers in the Taipei community from July - October, 2016. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews, which were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed by Miles and Huberman's (1994) guidelines.; Results: Similar indicators for dementia-friendly communities were identified in Taiwan as in other countries, including dementia-friendly care services, dementia-friendly hospitals, dementia-friendly community environment, dementia-friendly transportation, dementia-friendly stores and shops, dementia friendly people, integrated dementia-related information and community contribution- and -involvement opportunities for people with dementia. However, Taiwanese people with dementia and family caregivers described no emphasis on the potential of people with dementia to contribute to developing dementia-friendly communities and more top-down expectations for the government's role.; Conclusion: These indicators can be a guide for developing and evaluating dementia-friendly communities in Taiwan. Differences between Taiwan and Western developed countries in indicators for dementia-friendly communities can be further explored. Community nursing assessment, interventions and evaluation based on these dementia-friendly communities indicators can be further developed.; Impact: This study developed indicators for dementia-friendly communities in an Asian country. These indicators can be used as a guide for developing and evaluating dementia-friendly communities.

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The Influence of Social Support and Care Burden on Depression among Caregivers of Patients with Severe Mental Illness in Rural Areas of Sichuan, China

Depression is one of the most common psychological consequences of caregiving. Caring for patients with severe mental illness (SMI) adds significant challenges to family caregivers' mental health. The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of depression among caregivers of SMI patients in rural areas of Sichuan province of China, to examine the influence of social support and care burden on depression, and to explore the intermediary effect of care burden between social support and depression among caregivers of SMI patients. Data were collected from 256 primary caregivers of SMI patients in rural Sichuan Province in China. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test the hypothesized relationship among the variables. We found that a total of 53.5% of caregivers had depression. Both care burden (β = 0.599, 95%CI: 0.392-0.776) and social support (β = -0.307, 95%CI: (-0.494)-(-0.115)) were directly related to depression, while social support had a direct association with care burden (β = -0.506, 95%CI: (-0.672)-(-0.341)). Care burden mediated the relationship between social support and depression. For the socio-demographic variables, gender, education level and per capita annual income of household had significant correlations with depression (p < 0.05). The results strongly demonstrated that social support and care burden were predictors of depression, especially social support. Policymakers should fully recognize the role of primary family caregivers in caring for SMI patients and promote interventions to decrease care burden and reduce caregivers' depression by improving social support and network. More attention should be given to female caregivers and caregivers with lower education and lower household income levels.

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The Contribution of Social Support, Professional Support, and Financial Hardship to Family Caregiver Life Satisfaction After Traumatic Brain Injury

Objectives: (a) To assess whether 3 changeable environmental variables (social support, professional support, and financial hardship) contribute to explaining differences in well-being of family caregivers after traumatic brain injury (TBI), above and beyond the influence of neurobehavioral functioning. (b) To assess the unique and relative contribution of social support, professional support, and financial hardship to life satisfaction of family caregivers.; Participants: Adult family caregivers (n = 136) of individuals who received inpatient rehabilitation following a TBI.; Measures: The Social Provisions Scale; Brief Scale of Financial Hardship after Brain Injury; Satisfaction with Life Scale; and adapted scales measuring professional support and neurobehavioral functioning.; Design: Cross-sectional study using survey methodology.; Results: Social support, professional support, and financial hardship explained a significant amount of variance in life satisfaction after controlling for neurobehavioral functioning (R change = 0.34, considered a large effect size). Social support and financial hardship were significant unique predictors within the model, but professional support was not.; Conclusion: Social support and financial hardship are prominent environmental variables that may hold promise for targeted intervention development and testing designed to support family adaptation after TBI.

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Caring for a frail older person: the association between informal caregiver burden and being unsatisfied with support from family and friends

Background/objective: although informal caregivers (ICG) find caring for a relative mainly satisfying, it can be difficult at times and it can lead to a state of subjective burden characterised by -among others- fatigue and stress. The objective of this study is to analyse the relationship between perceived social support and subjective burden in providing informal care to frail older people. Methods: a descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted using data from a large nationwide longitudinal effectiveness study. Pearson correlations were calculated between the variables for support and burden. Logistic regression models were applied to determine the association between being unsatisfied with support and burden, taking into account multiple confounding variables. Results: of the 13,229 frail older people included in this study, 85.9% (N = 11,363) had at least one informal caregiver. Almost 60% of the primary informal caregivers manifested subjective burden, measured with the 12-item Zarit-Burden-Interview (ZBI-12). The percentage of informal caregivers that were unsatisfied with support from family and friends was on average 11.5%. Logistic regression analysis showed that being unsatisfied with support is associated with burden (OR1.85; 95%CI1.53–2.23). These results were consistent for the three groups of impairment level of the frail older persons analysed. Conclusions: the association between perceived social support and subjective caregiver burden was explored in the context of caring for frail older people. ICGs who were unsatisfied with support were more likely to experience burden. Our findings underline the importance of perceived social support in relation to caregiver burden reduction. Therefore efforts to improve perceived social support are worth evaluating.

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Support groups for carers of a person with dementia who lives at home: A focused ethnographic study

Aims: To explore and understand carer participation in support groups when caring for a person with dementia who lives at home Design: Focused ethnographic design.; Methods: Participant observations and semi-structured interviews were conducted from January - December 2015. The data were collected from four support groups in the Danish primary health care system. Interviews were conducted with 25 carers. An inductive content analysis of the data was performed.; Results: Three themes were identified: emotional well-being due to peer and family support, emotional sense of togetherness despite hardships and emotional and ethical considerations in caregiving.; Conclusion: Support group participation with positive peer interaction increases carer self-esteem and feelings of togetherness, as well as an awareness of maintaining the care receiver's dignity and prevention of conflicts with families, resulting in an improvement in carer well-being, leading to increased motivation to continue caring. Carers who hid their group participation face a potential conflict with the care receiver. 

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Actions to influence the care network of home-dwelling elderly people: A qualitative study

Positive impact of care networks of home-dwelling elderly people may be based on several network mechanisms: navigation to resources, negotiation between participants and contagion of behaviours. Little is known about actions of participants-elderly people, informal caregivers or formal care providers-to activate such mechanisms and generate support. Aim of this study was to identify actions in relation to these network mechanisms. A cross-sectional qualitative study of 48 interviews with home-dwelling elderly people, informal caregivers and formal care providers in the eastern parts of the Netherlands was conducted between March and September 2016. A framework analysis on network mechanisms categorised actions. Actions were reviewed by network party and compared between networks to explore relations between actions and networks. Results showed that participants navigated through existing relations to seek support. Actions on negotiation were aimed at ameliorating existing relations. Few examples and no actions on contagion of behaviours were found. Actions seemed driven by incidents and existing relations. Elderly people rarely initiated actions, informal caregivers felt hampered by their position in the network. Consistent patterns of relations between actions and network characteristics did not emerge. We concluded that the full potential of network-based support of elderly people is probably underused. Particularly promising seem: navigating the neighbourhood for new informal care, using opposite opinions as a catalyst for change and bringing quality of life and dilemma's into dialogue in the network.

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Social support and high resilient coping in carers of people with dementia

High resilience is associated with improved carer outcomes. Both individual factors and the availability of social support have been linked with resilience. This study was conducted to compare socio-demographic characteristics and the availability of social support for carers with low and high resilient coping, and identify if any domain of social support predicted high resilient coping in informal carers of people with dementia. The participants in this cross sectional survey included 108 informal carers of people with dementia. Findings showed the availability of emotional/informational support was most likely to predict resilient coping and tangible support the least likely. However, when controlling for all covariates, only gender predicted high resilient coping, individual social support domains were no longer significant. Therefore, as no single domain of social support has a significantly greater influence on resilient coping, service providers should enable carers to build a wide, multi-function support network.

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Pilot Test of a Computer-Based System to Help Family Caregivers of Dementia Patients

Background: Family members absorb much of the care of dementia patients. The burden of care substantially impacts caregivers' health, further straining our healthcare system. By 2050, the incidence of Alzheimer's disease will more than double, increasing the numbers of family caregivers proportionally. Interventions that reduce their burden are needed to preserve their health as well as the viability of the healthcare system.; Objective: This paper reports on the development and feasibility testing of a computer-based system intended to improve the lives of caregivers. D-CHESS (Dementia-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System) allows users to obtain information, communicate with other caregivers, get help with care decisions, and share information with experts.; Method: Thirty-one caregivers were randomly assigned to an intervention group receiving D-CHESS for 6 months or to a control group receiving a caregiving book. Surveys at 0, 2, 4, and 6 months evaluated caregiver burden, family conflict, satisfaction with decisions, social support, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and coping competence.; Results: Survey findings suggest D-CHESS participants may perform better on measures of social support, anxiety, loneliness, and coping competence; the groups were equivalent on caregiver burden, decision satisfaction, and depression, and the control group reported less family conflict than the intervention. D-CHESS use data suggested enhancements to system design and content to increase awareness and use of various features.; Conclusion: This study suggests that D-CHESS has potential to positively impact family caregivers and that the system merits further development and investigation with a full-scale clinical trial.

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Dementia‐friendly faith village worship services to support African American families: Research protocol

African American caregivers for persons living with dementia frequently experience emotional strain, burden, social isolation, and depression. One source of support for them when in distress is their church community. However, many African American churches do not have programs to support families and congregants living with dementia. Dementia often restricts persons living with dementia and their caregivers from attending church. Both become increasingly uncomfortable in church settings due to fear of embarrassment, uncertainty about the behavior of the person living with dementia, and shame. Church attendance and religion has been shown to be beneficial for caregivers and elders living with dementia. However, there is little work exploring how involvement in religious practices together (caregivers and persons living with dementia) might enhance the quality of life for these families. This protocol is written to detail the designing and testing of the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a dementia‐friendly faith village worship service. In the study, we will examine how dementia‐friendly faith village worship services support the well‐being of caregivers and care recipients in three African American churches through observation, interviews, and surveys. A sample of 30 dyads of African American caregivers and persons living with dementia will be asked to attend six modified worship services together over 6 months. In this study, we hope to demonstrate the significant role of churches in the lives of African American family caregivers and persons living with dementia and show that a faith‐based, family‐oriented approach can promote a greater quality of life for African American families living with dementia.

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Process evaluation of a social support platform ‘Inlife’ for caregivers of people with dementia

Introduction Informal caregivers of persons with dementia have an increased risk of facing social isolation. Online social media interventions might offer a new opportunity to increase access to social support. An online social support platform, ‘Inlife’, was developed and launched in the Netherlands to enhance social support, positive interactions and information sharing in informal support networks. Objective A process evaluation was performed to evaluate the internal and external validity of the Inlife intervention. Methods Implementation, sampling and intervention quality were evaluated by both qualitative and quantitative methods. Analyses were performed using descriptive statistics and inductive content analysis. Analyses were conducted following participants' completion of the intervention after 16 weeks. Results The overall participation rate in the study was 27% (96/351). The Inlife intervention was generally well-received by the primary caregivers. Inlife facilitated empowerment, openness, involvement, and efficient care organization. Still, adherence was not optimal for all Inlife users. Determinants for Inlife use were identified on the level of the Inlife innovation, the users, and the socio-political context. Conclusions Inlife was evaluated as a useful instrument for efficient central care coordination and mutual involvement. This study emphasizes that the personal attitudes of the Inlife users to seek and provide support warrant attention, next to the characteristics of the actual Inlife innovation for optimal intervention uptake. Online and offline support might be integrated to raise awareness of caregiver social support needs and attitudes and provide insight into caregivers' available social capital. Trial registration Dutch trial register NTR6131, Registered on 20 October 2016.

  • Users found that Inlife increased empowerment, openness, involvement, and efficient care organization.
  • Lower adherence rates may have affected internal and external validity.
  • Determinants for Inlife use were found at the level of the innovation, the users, and the socio-political context.
  • Implementation strategies should focus on attitudes and barriers of Inlife’s users, as well as Inlife’s characteristics.
  • Offline guidance might be integrated to raise awareness of caregivers’ social capital, their support needs and barriers.
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“This is our life now. Our new normal”: A qualitative study of the unmet needs of carers of stroke survivors

Many stroke survivors require care from informal carers such as family members and friends who may experience adverse impacts. This study aimed to qualitatively explore the unmet needs of carers of stroke survivors, and their preferences for interventions and support services. We conducted 24 semi-structured, qualitative interviews with carers of stroke survivors from the Hunter region, Australia. Inductive thematic analysis was used in the context of a needs-led framework to identify key themes of their unmet needs. Key unmet needs identified by carers of stroke survivors in this study centred on four main themes: (1) social relationships and support; (2) adequacy of information; (3) taking care of oneself; and (4) accessing appropriate services. Carers of stroke survivors desired the development of services which provide connectivity to information, training, education and community support; and inclusion in a community with social relationships and other carers of stroke survivors. Ongoing unmet needs often result in adverse health and quality of life outcomes for carers of stroke survivors. Co-designed programs and resources for carers, particularly relating to unmet needs in social, information, self-care and service access domains are needed.

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Who internalizes courtesy stigma and how? A study among Israeli Arab family caregivers of persons with dementia

Objectives: The expected rise in the number of persons with dementia is accompanied by an increasing interest in understanding and reducing the stigmatic beliefs experienced by family caregivers of persons with the disease. While researchers have recently distinguished between family caregivers' perceptions of public stereotypes (i.e., courtesy stigma) and the internalization of these perceptions (i.e., affiliate stigma), no study has yet assessed the characteristics of dementia caregivers who internalize courtesy stigma and how they do so. The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of family caregivers of persons with dementia who internalize courtesy stigma, and to investigate this internalization process.; Method: Structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 175 Israeli Arab family caregivers (87.4% female; 71.4% adult children; mean age = 54.28) for persons with Alzheimer's disease.; Results: Overall, half of the participants reported experiencing affiliate stigma as a result of taking care of a relative with dementia. Regression analyses showed that lower educational level, increased courtesy stigma and lower levels of social support were the main predictors of affiliate stigma. Social support partially mediated the association between courtesy and affiliate stigma.; Conclusion: Our findings provide important insights for the conceptual understanding and the development of interventions to reduce stigma among family caregivers of persons with dementia.;

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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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Caregiver burden and family functioning in different neurological diseases

Aim of this study is to examine caregiver burden and family functioning in different neurological conditions. Forty-two primary caregivers of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) were administered scales for the evaluation of caregiver burden (CBI) and family functioning (FACES IV). Caregiver burden was overall high, with caregivers of patients with ALS and ABI having exceeded the CBI cut-off score for possible burn-out. The average scores of caregivers of patients with AD or other dementia and PD were close to the cut-off score, whereas those of caregivers of patients with MS were significantly lower than the others. Family cohesion, family satisfaction and the quality of family communication were associated with reduced levels of caregiver burden, whereas disengagement was associated with a higher burden. The data from the present study confirm that caregiver burden is a relevant issue in the context of neurological diseases, especially for those causing higher degrees of impairment. Significant correlations with family functioning emerged as well, highlighting the importance of studying and treating caregiver burden within the context of family relations

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The relationship between perceived social support and depressive symptoms in informal caregivers of community-dwelling older persons in Chile

Aim: Depression among caregivers of older persons is a serious concern, but it is often overlooked and neglected in developing countries. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between perceived social support and depression in informal caregivers of community-dwelling older persons in Chile.; Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional secondary data on 377 dyads of community-dwelling older persons and their informal caregivers from a nationwide survey in Chile. The Duke-UNC Functional Social Support Questionnaire (FSSQ) was used to measure caregivers' perceived social support, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale assessed their depression.; Results: In this study, 76.9% of the caregivers perceived a high level of social support, and 46.9% were assessed as having depression. Based on multivariable analysis, factors that decrease the likelihood of being depressed are a high level of social support (odds ratio (OR) = 0.311, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.167-0.579) and having taken holidays in the past 12 months (OR = 0.513, 95%CI: 0.270-0.975). Factors that increase the likelihood of being depressed are being a female caregiver (OR = 2.296, 95%CI: 1.119-4.707), being uninsured (OR = 4.321, 95%CI: 1.750-10.672), being the partner or spouse of the care recipient (OR = 3.832, 95%CI: 1.546-9.493), and the number of hours of care (OR = 1.053, 95%CI: 1.021-1.085).; Conclusion: Higher levels of perceived social support and holidays were associated with lower levels of depression. However, being female, being the care recipient's partner or spouse, being uninsured, and having long care periods had detrimental effects. Interventions to preserve and enhance perceived social support could help improve depressive symptoms in informal caregivers. Additionally, support should be available to caregivers who are women, uninsured, and the care recipient's partner or spouse, as well as those who provide care for long hours, to ensure they have respite from their caregiving role.

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Caregivers' perspectives and experiences of withdrawing acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine in advanced dementia: a qualitative analysis of an online discussion forum

Background: There is considerable uncertainty surrounding the medications used to delay the progression of dementia, especially their long-term efficacy and when to withdraw treatment with these agents. Current research regarding the optimal use of antidementia medication is limited, contributing to variability in practice guidelines and in clinicians' prescribing practices. Little is currently known about the experiences encountered by caregivers of people with dementia after antidementia medication is withdrawn. Aim: To investigate the experiences and perspectives of carers and family members when antidementia medications (cholinesterase inhibitors and/or memantine) are stopped, by analysing archived threads and posts of an online discussion forum for people affected by dementia. Methods: Archived discussions from Talking Point, an online discussion forum hosted by the Alzheimer's Society UK, were searched for threads discussing antidementia medication withdrawal and relevant threads were analysed thematically using the Framework method. Participant demographics were not established due to usernames which ensured anonymity. Results: Four key themes emerged: (1) expectations about withdrawal, (2) method of withdrawal, (3) clinical condition on withdrawal, and (4) the effect of withdrawal on caregivers. Conclusions: Online discussion forums such as Talking Point provide dementia carers with an outlet to seek help, offer advice and share experiences with other members. The study findings highlight the complexity surrounding optimising dementia pharmacotherapy and antidementia medication withdrawal, highlighting the need for treatment to be person-centred and highly individualised. 

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Self-efficacy and social support for psychological well-being of family caregivers of care recipients with dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease dementia, or Alzheimer's disease

The study identified factors associated with depressive symptoms in family caregivers of persons with dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer's disease, or Parkinson's disease dementia. An Internet-based survey generated 606 response sets. Regression analysis indicated that care recipients' memory and behavioral problems, caregivers' self-efficacy, grief, and tangible, emotional, and affectionate support were significantly associated with caregivers' depressive symptoms. Self-efficacy mediated caregiver burden to improve psychological well-being. Social support mediated the association between caregiver grief and psychological well-being. Social workers can provide psychoeducational interventions to help caregivers to manage emotional distress and improve capacity to manage tasks related to the dementia.

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Understanding the Type of Support Offered Within the Caregiver, Family, and Spiritual/Religious Contexts of Cancer Patients

Context/objectives: We sought to characterize patterns of social support types (i.e., emotional, informational, appraisal, and instrumental) within the caregiver/spouse, family, and spiritual/religious contexts for patients diagnosed with cancer.; Methods: Focus groups were conducted with mixed groups of patients with cancer and caregiver/family members at a Midwestern comprehensive cancer center. Participants completed brief demographic questionnaires. Focus groups were moderated using semistructured interviews. The 90-minute discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed, and uploaded into NVivo for analysis using a deductive approach based on four social support types and the constant comparative method.; Results: Four focus groups were conducted (n = 25). The average age was 58.4 years (SD = 15.1, range 26.0-76.0). Patient participants reported different malignancy types, including breast, gynecologic, skin, oral, and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Participants acknowledged changes within their social network across the cancer journey. Overall, the caregiver/spouse fulfilled all types of social support. Spirituality/religion was often discussed as a form of appraisal social support. Fellow survivors were sources of informational support. Across groups, nondirective/emotional support was most frequently mentioned.; Conclusion: Cancer is a unique experience, and understanding the importance of social support, including types of social support needed from different contexts to best meet the needs of the patient, may promote optimal, patient-centered care across the cancer trajectory.

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Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Its Relationship With Perceived Social Support Among Family Caregivers of Individuals With Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder

A cross-sectional descriptive correlation study was performed to investigate the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among 300 family caregivers of individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and examine the relationship between perceived social support and risk of PTSD. The Arabic version of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (APCL-5) was used to investigate risk of PTSD; the Arabic version of the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support was used to measure perceived social support. Mean score of the APCL-5 was 46.1, indicating risk of PTSD among family caregivers. A negative moderate correlation was found between risk of PTSD and perceived social support. The caring process is demanding and highly stressful, putting family caregivers at risk for PTSD. Social support is crucial in decreasing this risk. [Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, xx(x), xx-xx.].; Copyright 2019, SLACK Incorporated.

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Male Caregivers: Shifting roles among family caregivers

BACKGROUND: More than 16 million men in the United States are acting in the role of family caregiver. Men are usually viewed as not being caring simply because they provide care differently than women. However, this is not the case. OBJECTIVES: This article explores male caregiving from the perspective of family and professional roles. METHODS: A review of the literature related to men in the caregiving role was conducted. This review included only men providing care to a family member and was limited to men caring for an adult. FINDINGS: The main traits of male caregivers were defined as masculinization of caregiving behaviors, social support needs, and caregiver role strain/emotional aspects of caring. Men in the caregiving role must be supported. Education related to how men provide care is needed. Hands-on education should also be provided to men in the family caregiving role.

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Geographical proximity and depressive symptoms among adult child caregivers: social support as a moderator

Objectives: This study examined whether geographical proximity is a predictor of depressive symptoms, and whether family and friend support can moderate the relationship between geographical proximity and depressive symptoms. Method: A survey of 557 adult child primary caregivers was conducted in Shanghai, China in 2013. Geographical proximity was measured as a categorical variable: coresidence, short distance (less than 30 minutes' travel time), and long distance (more than 30 minutes' travel time). Family and friend support were assessed using the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Depressive symptoms were evaluated using the Center on Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Multiple regression analyses and interaction terms were used to test the moderating roles of family and friend support. Results: Adult child caregivers who live more than 30 minutes away from care recipients experienced higher depressive symptoms than coresiding caregivers (β =.114, p <.01). Family support (β = −.408, p <.05) and friend support (β = −.235, p <.05) were protective factors that lessened depressive symptoms for long-distance adult child caregivers. Conclusion: This study adds spatial dimension to caregiving literature and extends stress process theory. These findings have important implications for service planning and social support for adult child caregivers.

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Quality of life in caregivers of a family member with serious mental illness: Evidence from China

Purpose: To evaluate the quality of life (QoL) and social support among family caregivers of a family member with a mental illness and to identify factors associated with the QoL.; Methods: This is a cross-sectional study, where participants were recruited and independently interviewed using a questionnaire, consisting of demographic characteristics, the Medical Outcome Survey SF-36 form, and social support rating scales. Multiple stepwise regression analysis was used to analyse the factors related to QoL.; Results: 181 family caregivers were recruited in Shandong province, China. On a composite QoL score, family caregivers perceived that their QoL was poor (68.3), especially in the aspects of role-physical (61.3), role-emotional (57.6) and mental health (63.0). We also found family caregivers received low social support, especially in objective support and utilization of social support. Patient's illness state, care time, financial burden and objective support were significantly correlated to caregivers' QoL in the physical component score (PCS). Patient's illness state, patient's marital status, family monthly income, caregiver's knowledge about the illness, caregivers coordinating caring, life and work, subjective support received and utility of support were significantly associated with caregivers' QoL in the mental component score (MCS).; Conclusions: Social support had a significant correlation with caregivers' QoL. Caregivers should be encouraged to request assistance from other family members and friends in providing care, especially when caregivers are unemployed or long-time carers. Mental health education campaigns and helping families to maintain and enhance a supportive social network may provide useful means to improve caregivers' QoL.

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Online Resources: What Family Carers Think

In 2018, a survey found that 82% of the Irish population, across all age groups, had used the internet in some way in the three months preceding the survey (Central Statistics Office, 2018). Ninety-seven percent of those aged between 16 and 29, and nearly half of those aged between 60 and 74, had done so. It is clear, then, that  increasingly the internet is becoming a tool that must be understood and utilised as a viable way to supplement supports for family carers.

In order to discover how family carers in Ireland are using – and could be using – online services and supports, Care Alliance Ireland (in consultation with the National Carers Week partner organisations) undertook a survey of Irish family carers in April 2019.

300 family carers responded online, and a summary of their responses are included here. The purpose of this report is to highlight how family carers are using the internet to connect with others, to get supports and information from not-for-profit and statutory agencies, and to manage their lives as family carers. It should be noted that this is not a representative sample of Irish family carers – the survey was administered online and disseminated via the National Carers Week Facebook page and other online channels.

Internet supports are not, of course, a substitute for significant one-to-one supports. There will always be a need for the timely and adequate provision of in-home respite, therapies and all the other supports which are necessary to create a positive environment for a family carer to provide the best possible care to a family member or friend. However, if used in conjunction with existing supports they can be a source of peer support and a way to tackle the social isolation and loneliness that many family carers experience – in particular in rural and geographically isolated locations.

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Facilitators and barriers to supporting individuals with spinal cord injury in the community: experiences of family caregivers and care recipients

Purpose: Family members make an important contribution to informal and formal care, as well as the overall health and wellbeing of individuals with spinal cord injury. Caregiving often results in negative outcomes which, if not addressed, threaten the sustainability of these critical supports. We sought to explore the perceptions of individuals with spinal cord injury and their family caregivers regarding the facilitators and barriers to undertaking and sustaining the caregiving role in the community.; Methods: A qualitative descriptive approach with semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis was employed to determine key themes arising from individuals with spinal cord injury (n = 19) and their family members' (n = 16) experiences.; Results: The following four facilitators to caregiving were identified: access to community support services, positive coping in relationship, social support, and mastery of caregiving roles. Conversely, the following six barriers to caregiving were identified: lack of access to community resources, lack of knowledge about resources and formal training, fragmented continuity of care, negative coping in relationship, role strain, and caregiver injury or illness.; Conclusions: The current study demonstrated that positive coping, social support, skills training, access to community services and continuity of care contribute significantly to the sustainability of the spinal cord injury family caregiving role. As such, the development of future caregiver interventions should consider these facilitators. Implications for Rehabilitation Family caregivers make an important contribution to the care processes and overall quality of life of individuals with spinal cord injury post-discharge into the community. The potential negative effects of caregiving could threaten the sustainability of these critical supports. Positive coping, social support, skills training, access to community services, and continuity of care contribute significantly to the sustainability of the spinal cord injury family caregiving role. This study shows the need for better integration of family members during the rehabilitation and discharge process to better prepare them for the caregiving role.

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You never walk alone: An exploratory study of the needs and burden of an informal care group

Little is known about the dynamics of a group of people giving informal care together. The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of an informal care group, the obstacles the informal care group experiences, the needs and desires they have and how the informal care group can be supported by general practitioners (GPs) and other professionals. Nine informal care groups were interviewed based on a questionnaire that was preapproved by the six Flemish official informal caregiver organisations. The results were analysed using open coding. A survey was conducted among 137 caregivers who were part of a group. Univariate analysis was performed. Informal care group usually consist of close relatives of the patient, with often the partner of the patient as the main caregiver. The size of the informal care group depends on the size of the family. If there are more caregivers in a group, the perceived burden of the individual caregiver decreases. The support of the other caregivers in the group increases capacity. The cooperation and agreements are often spontaneously organised and few problems are reported. There is a large variation in the expectations of support from the general practitioner, ranging from availability in emergencies to information about the possibilities of formal home care. This study depicts a positive image of the informal care group. Being part of a caregiver group both decreases burden and increases capacity. Informal care groups usually function well without a need for formal agreements within the group, and they rarely need a third party to coordinate with them or intervene.

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Understanding Caregiver Quality of Life in Caregivers of Hospitalized Older Adults With Cancer

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Caregivers of older adults with cancer assist both with cancer care and other health issues, which may make them vulnerable to consequences of caregiving. Hospitalization may represent a time when a caregiver's ability to provide care at home is exceeded. We sought to characterize caregivers of hospitalized older adults with cancer, determine their quality of life (QOL), and identify factors associated with caregiver QOL. METHODS: Patients (n = 100), aged 65 years and older, with an unplanned hospitalization and their caregivers were included. Caregivers completed a questionnaire about their health, social support, caregiving relationship, QOL (Caregiver Quality of Life Index‐Cancer [CQOLC] tool), and patient function. Patient medical history was obtained via chart review. The association between patient, caregiving, and caregiver factors and CQOLC was determined using multivariate linear regression. RESULTS: Most patients (73%) had metastatic/advanced disease, and 71% received treatment for their cancer within 30 days of hospitalization. Median Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) was 60%, and 89% required help with instrumental activities of daily living, as reported by caregivers. Median caregiver age was 65 years (range = 29‐84 years). The majority (60%) had no major comorbidities and rated their health as excellent/good (79%), though 22% reported worsening health due to caregiving. Caregivers had a median Mental Health Inventory‐18 score of 70 (range = 0–97), a median Medical Outcomes Study (MOS)‐social activity score of 56 (range = 0–87.5), and a median MOS‐Social Support Survey score of 68 (range = 0–100). Caregivers provided a median of 35 hours of care per week (range = 0‐168 hours of care per week). Mean CQOLC was 84.6 ± 23.5. Lower caregiver QOL was associated with poorer caregiver mental health, less social support, and poorer patient KPS (P < .05). CONCLUSION: Caregivers of hospitalized older adults with cancer are older but generally in good health. Those with poorer mental health, less social support, and caring for patients with poorer performance status are more likely to experience lower QOL. 

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Family Caregivers' Perspectives for the Effect of Social Support on their Care Burden and Quality of Life: A Mixed-Method Study in Rural and Sub-Urban Central Japan

Japan has adopted community-based integrated long-term care, which has shifted the burden of care from institutions to the home. However, family caregivers have received less attention compared with care recipients. Many family caregivers are also older adults, and it is important that caregivers receive appropriate support to alleviate the burden of care. In rural and sub-urban area with limited resources compared to urban area, it is necessary to know which support to be prioritized. Therefore, this study aimed to understand family caregivers' perceptions of social support, the type and source of support which were considered important, and how it affected their caregiving burden and quality of life (QOL). We conducted a convergent mixed-method study with 174 primary family caregivers of older adults receiving home care in rural and suburb area of Central Japan. The mixed-method approach enabled qualitative data to complement quantitative results. Strong family support and higher education had positive effects on QOL, while higher caregiving burden and longer duration of care had negative effects on QOL. Provision of tangible support from family and healthcare professionals was central in reducing caregiving burden and improving caregivers' QOL. Support from distant relatives or neighbors, which was deemed inappropriate by caregivers, had a negative effect on caregivers' emotional status. In conclusion, family caregivers perceived support positively, but the effects depended on who provided support. While tangible support from close family and professionals was perceived positively, support from neighbors or distant relatives should consider caregivers' needs and condition to avoid a negative impact.

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Family caregiver satisfaction with inpatient rehabilitation care

Introduction: Informal family caregivers play an increasingly important role in healthcare. Despite their role in ongoing management and coordination of care, caregiver satisfaction with the healthcare services care recipients receive has been understudied. We sought to assess what influences caregiver satisfaction with inpatient care provided to their care recipient among caregivers of veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and polytrauma.; Methods: Data from the Family and Caregiver Experience Survey, a national survey of caregivers of veterans with TBI and polytrauma, was used to explore factors associated with caregiver satisfaction with the care his/her care recipient received while an inpatient at a US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Caregiver and care recipient demographic and injury factors and potential addressable factors including social support, caregiver training received, and caregiver perceptions of being valued by the VA were evaluated for their associations with caregivers' satisfaction with their care recipients' healthcare.; Results: The majority of the 524 caregivers reported being mostly or very satisfied with their care recipient's inpatient care (75%, n = 393). Higher satisfaction with inpatient care was significantly associated with greater caregiver social support, receipt of training from the VA, and perceptions of being valued by the VA, both on univariate analysis and after controlling for care recipient TBI severity and caregiver's relationship to the care recipient.; Conclusions: Results suggest that supporting a strong social network for caregivers, providing caregiver training, and employing practices that communicate that family caregiving is valued by providers and healthcare organizations are promising avenues for improving caregiver satisfaction.

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We Are Caregivers: Social Identity Is Associated with Lower Perceived Stress among Rural Informal Caregivers

Informal caregivers often experience high stress levels with little support, especially in rural settings. With a mixed-methods approach, this research explored experiences of rural informal caregivers, including how social identification as a caregiver, social interactions, and formal and informal coping support related to perceived stress. Major focus group themes (n = 8) included lacking available services, balancing challenges, unmet practical needs, and strong community identity. Survey data (n = 22) revealed that perceived coping support (e.g., having someone to turn to), social interactions, and caregiver identity (e.g., perceiving the role as important to one's self-concept) were associated with lower life upset stress, but only caregiver identity was associated with managing the personal distress and negative feelings associated with caregiving stress. Results suggest that, although available rural services may fall short, other options might alleviate caregiver stress, including facilitating access to coping support, encouraging social interactions, and enhancing caregiver social identity.

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Telephone-based aftercare groups for family carers of people with dementia: study protocol of the Talking Time - REHAB project

Background: More than one million people in Germany live with dementia. Most of these people are cared for at home in the family setting. Supporting and caring for people with dementia is time-consuming, and family carers often have high stress levels and are at an increased risk of becoming physically and mentally ill. Medical rehabilitation (rehab) helps to relieve family carers and provide them with strategies to cope with stress. The aim of this study is to improve the sustainability of a multimodal rehab program for family carers of people with dementia.; Research Question: can the effects of this rehab be maintained through telephone-based aftercare groups following the rehab program?; Methods: A prospective randomized controlled longitudinal trial is performed. The intervention group (IG) participates in telephone-based aftercare groups; the control group (CG) receives treatment as usual. For evaluation, a mixed-methods approach is used. The effects of the intervention are quantitatively evaluated by written questionnaires at four measuring points (pre- and post-rehab, as well as 6 and 12 months after the end of rehab).; Primary Outcome: participation (IMET).; Secondary Outcomes: Depressive Mood State CES-D, General Complaints SCL-90-R, Subjective Quality of Life WHOQUOL-BREF, Social Support F-SozU, performance in different areas of life, single scales, and support offers (single items). The intervention process is evaluated through qualitative interviews and focus groups with regard to the acceptance of and satisfaction with the aftercare offered; in addition, a health economic evaluation is performed using the EQ-5D questionnaire. Rehabilitants are included in the study (N = 103 each in the IG and CG) who, accompanied by their family members with dementia, participate in the rehab measure in Ratzeburg. The IG participates monthly in 6 telephone aftercare groups over a period of 6 months. Typical stress situations are discussed and worked on.; Discussion: Upon successful evaluation, the offer to participate in telephone-based aftercare groups can be firmly established in the participating rehab clinic. Through minor adjustments, the offer would also be suitable for carers of physically ill people and for non-nursing-specific rehabilitation indications.; Trial Registration: German Clinical Trials Register: DRKS00013736 , May 14, 2018.

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The relation between social cohesion and the care burden of family healthcare providers

This study aimed to clarify the relationship between social cohesion and family care burden. The social capital indicators of Kondo et al. and the short version of the Zarit Care Burden Interview Scale in Japanese (J-ZBI_8) were used. Data were analyzed by multiple regression models. Seventy-one caregivers responded. Factors showing statistical significance in the multiple regression analysis included "receipt of emotional support" (p = 0.009) and "instrumental support provided" (p = 0.010). Social support was suggested to have a possible effect on the care burden of the main caregivers to relate to less burden. The gap between the original ideal loss and the social role caused by providing nursing care is likely to increase the degree of care burden.

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Exploring dimensions of social support and resilience when providing care at the end of life: a qualitative study

Background: Research shows that formal and informal social support can facilitate resilience in carers. There is a paucity of research exploring social support and resilience amongst recently bereaved informal carers.; Aim: To examine how the presence or absence of distinct dimensions of social support facilitate or hinder resilience in recently bereaved informal carers.; Participants: 44 bereaved carers, who had been identified by GP as 'main carer' of someone recently deceased (3-12 months), aged between 38 and 87 years old (mean= 67).; Methods: Thematic analysis then the Ecological Framework of Resilience as an organisational tool to develop overarching themes in the data. We used the Sherbourne and Stewart model to identify social support that was lacking as well as social support that was present.; Results: A range of social support types were identified. There was an emphasis on the importance of relationships with both health professionals and family members, including the care recipient. However, social support was not necessary for resilience if the participant had other resources.; Conclusions: Social support for carers providing end of life care is almost exclusively based around end of life care 'work'. In comparison to other research our study suggests that relationships with family and health professionals are paramount. Multidimensional support is needed for carers to enhance their resilience.

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Gender Differences in Social Support Received by Informal Caregivers: A Personal Network Analysis Approach

Social support is an important predictor of the health of a population. Few studies have analyzed the influence of caregivers' personal networks from a gender perspective. The aim of this study was to analyze the composition, structure, and function of informal caregiver support networks and to examine gender differences. It also aimed to explore the association between different network characteristics and self-perceived health among caregivers. We performed a social network analysis study using a convenience sample of 25 female and 25 male caregivers. A descriptive analysis of the caregivers and bivariate analyses for associations with self-perceived health were performed. The structural metrics analyzed were density; degree centrality mean; betweenness centrality mean; and number of cliques, components, and isolates. The variability observed in the structure of the networks was not explained by gender. Some significant differences between men and women were observed for network composition and function. Women received help mainly from women with a similar profile to them. Men's networks were broader and more diverse and they had more help from outside family circles, although these outcomes were not statistically significant. Our results indicate the need to develop strategies that do not reinforce traditional gender roles, but rather encourage a greater sharing of responsibility among all parties.

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Feasibility of implementing an electronic social support and resource visualization tool for caregivers in a neuro-oncology clinic

Purpose: The goals of this study were to assess the feasibility of a web-based application-electronic Social Network Assessment Program (eSNAP)-to automate the capture and visualization of family caregiver social network data of neuro-oncology patients. Methods: Caregivers were recruited from a neuro-oncology clinic at an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. Participants completed baseline questionnaires on a laptop in clinic assessing demographic characteristics. After baseline, participants were randomly assigned to either create a social network visualization using eSNAP (intervention) or to usual care (control) condition. Those who used eSNAP provided likeability/usability data. All participants were asked to complete follow-up questionnaires at 3 and 6 weeks after baseline to determine feasibility of longitudinal study. Results: We recruited 40 caregivers of patients with primary malignant brain tumor to participate in this study. Participants rated eSNAP usability and likeability highly, indicating that eSNAP would help them consider their available social support. At 3 weeks, 90% of participants completed questionnaires and 82.5% completed questionnaires at 6 weeks. Conclusions: There is a need to encourage family caregivers of patients with primary malignant brain tumor to engage their existing social network resources to help alleviate caregiver burden. Our findings suggest that our web-based application to address this issue is feasible to implement with high usability and likeability. This pilot study identified minor changes to the intervention to improve effectiveness and has implications for future research in this understudied population.Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov, protocol number NCT03026699.

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Outcomes of an electronic social network intervention with neuro-oncology patient family caregivers

Introduction: Informal family caregivers (FCG) are an integral and crucial human component in the cancer care continuum. However, research and interventions to help alleviate documented anxiety and burden on this group is lacking. To address the absence of effective interventions, we developed the electronic Support Network Assessment Program (eSNAP) which aims to automate the capture and visualization of social support, an important target for overall FCG support. This study seeks to describe the preliminary efficacy and outcomes of the eSNAP intervention.; Methods: Forty FCGs were enrolled into a longitudinal, two-group randomized design to compare the eSNAP intervention in caregivers of patients with primary brain tumors against controls who did not receive the intervention. Participants were followed for six weeks with questionnaires to assess demographics, caregiver burden, anxiety, depression, and social support. Questionnaires given at baseline (T1) and then 3-weeks (T2), and 6-weeks (T3) post baseline questionnaire.; Results: FCGs reported high caregiver burden and distress at baseline, with burden remaining stable over the course of the study. The intervention group was significantly less depressed, but anxiety remained stable across groups.; Conclusions: With the lessons learned and feedback obtained from FCGs, this study is the first step to developing an effective social support intervention to support FCGs and healthcare providers in improving cancer care.;

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Applying the convoy model to support in care situations

This article considers the future of informal care situations, with a special focus on how social networks can support caring. Noting demographic changes and the endemic need for informal support, we outline the convoy model of social relations for proactive planning and contemporaneous caring. The article is grounded in empirical evidence, including comparative findings from four countries and about caring among two uniquely vulnerable populations: latelife remarried couples and lesbian and gay adults. Finally, we propose that caring be considered no longer an individual responsibility, but rather a family, community and societal responsibility basic to shared values and societal cohesion.

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The Dementia Friends initiative - supporting people with dementia and their carers: reflections from Japan

Globally, an estimated 46.8 million people are living with dementia (ADI, 2015). The figure for Japan is 5 million; this represents 15% of all those aged 65 years and over (MHLW, 2015). With no cure and few effective treatments, policy developments increasingly emphasise ‘living well’ with the condition within supportive families and friendly communities (DH, 2009, 2012a, 2012b; WHO and ADI, 2012). [...] Although evidence to support the positive impact of involving people with dementia in the Dementia Friends initiative is limited, the need to extend its ambitions to do so underpins the principle ‘Nothing about us, without us’, campaigned for by the JDWG and other dementia groups and activists nationally and internationally (Dementia Alliance International, 2015; Swaffer, 2015). 

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Support Needs for Family Caregivers of Clients with Mental Illness in Iran: A Qualitative Study

This paper explored the support needs of family caregivers of people living with a mental illness in Iran. This descriptive study focused on the experiences of 20 family caregivers as well as the views of 29 professional support workers through individual face-to-face interviews. From these interviews three key themes emerged in regards to the care needs of family caregivers: (i) social support; (ii) emotional support; and (iii) safety and security. These themes highlighted the complex role of caring for a family member with a mental illness and the emotional, social and economic challenges that these caregivers experienced as a result. Iranian caregivers garnered support not only from other family members but also from neighbors and religious leaders but lacked the much needed respite care found in western countries. This research study highlighted the importance of ensuring that the caregivers themselves receive appropriate and adequate support to fulfill their caregiving role.

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Challenges of Family Caregivers of Patients with Mental Disorders in Iran: A Narrative Review

Background: Family caregivers of patients with mental disorders play the most important role in the care of psychiatric patients (PPs) and preventing their readmission. These caregivers face different challenges in different cultures. We conducted this study to determine the challenges of caregivers of patients with mental disorders in Iran. Materials and Methods: This study is a narrative review with a matrix approach conducted by searching electronic databases, SID, IRANMEDEX, MAGIRAN, PUBMED, SCOPUS, Web of Sciences, from February 2000 to 2017. Searched keywords include challenges, family caregivers of psychiatric patient, family caregivers and psychiatric patient, mental illness, families of psychiatric patient, and Iran. One thousand two hundred articles were found in English and Farsi, and considering inclusion and exclusion criteria, 39 articles were examined. Results: The results of the studies show that not meeting the needs of caregivers, burnout and high burden of care, high social stigma, low social support for caregivers, and low quality of life of caregivers were among the most important challenges faced by caregivers. Conclusions: Despite the efforts of authorities in Iran, family caregivers of patients with mental disorders still face challenges. Therefore, the need for all-inclusive support for family caregivers of patients with mental health problems is necessary. 

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Prisoner peer caregiving: a literature review

AIM: To explore the role of prisoner caregivers in providing peer social care to older prisoners and to identify methodological information and challenges to conducting research in prisons, to inform future research in this setting. METHOD: The literature review was conducted in two stages. In the first stage, a systematic literature review was undertaken to retrieve articles related to prisoner caregiving. The main themes from these articles were identified. In the second stage, a narrative literature review was undertaken to provide contextual and methodological information about research, which may support future research in prisons. FINDINGS: The main themes identified in the systematic literature review were: the benefits of prisoner caregiving; training needs; and the organisational implications of implementing prisoner caregiving. The narrative literature review identified a range of methodological approaches used to undertake research in prisons. Challenges to undertaking research in prisons included practical issues, the influence of power on relationships and the difficulty for researchers not to take the side of either the prisoners or prison staff. CONCLUSION: The role of prisoner caregiver is increasingly recognised as important, and is associated with several benefits to individual prisoners and the prison community. However, further training is required for prisoner caregivers, and there is a need for further research into the prisoner caregiving role, using a methodology that is suitable for the prison setting. 

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Volunteer peer support and befriending for carers of people living with dementia: an exploration of volunteers' experiences

With ageing populations and greater reliance on the voluntary sector, the number of volunteer-led peer support and befriending services for carers of people with dementia in England is set to increase. However, little is known about the experiences of the volunteers who deliver these interventions, many of whom are former carers. Using in-depth semi-structured interviews with 10 volunteer peer supporters and befrienders, this exploratory study investigated volunteers' experiences of delivering the support, the types of relationships they form with carers and their perceptions of its impact upon them and on carers. Data were analysed using framework analysis. Findings showed that volunteers benefitted from their role due to the 'two-way' flow of support. Experiential similarity and having common interests with carers were considered important to the development of mutually beneficial relationships. Volunteers perceived that carers gained emotional and social support, which in turn improved the carers' coping ability. Being able to see positive changes to carers' lives was important for volunteers to gain enjoyment and satisfaction from their role. However, volunteers also identified challenges with their role, such as dealing with carers' emotions. Future research should investigate ways of reducing potential burden on volunteers and explore the impact of volunteering specifically on former carers of people with dementia. 

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A Descriptive Co-relational study on Burden, Social Support and Family Wellbeing among Caregivers of Mentally Ill Patients in Mansik Aarogayashala , Gwalior (M.P.)

As a worldwide phenomenon, no one is immune - mental illnesses affect people of all ages, cultures, educational and income levels. Burden of caregivers of people with bipolar illness reported moderate or great distress in at least in one burden domain. Hence the descriptive co-relational study has been conducted to assess the burden, social support and family wellbeing among caregivers of mentally ill patients in Mansik Aarogayashala , Gwalior (M.P.). Aim of the study was to determine the caregivers' burden as measured by caregivers burden, social support, family well being and find the relationship between care giver burden and social support, care giver burden and family well being and social support and family well being. By using purposive sampling technique collects total 50 samples. The data was collected using demographic proforma, caregivers' burden assessment scale, social support scale and family wellbeing scale by applying the questioning technique. Results revealed that, Maximum number of caregivers had moderate burden (60%), low social support (82%) and perceived high level of wellbeing (48%); 36% had mild burden, 16% had moderate social support and 46% perceived moderate level of wellbeing. Caregiver burden had negative correlation with social support(r=-0.344, P < 0.005) and family wellbeing (r= -0.404, P < 0.005) while there was positive correlation between social support and family wellbeing(r=0.447, P < 0.005). Study concluded that Caregiver burden had a significant negative relationship as social support and family wellbeing decreased, caregiver burden increased. But there was a positive relationship between social support and family wellbeing, family wellbeing increased with increased social support.

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Stigma experienced by family members of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Multidimensional construct

Background There is a lack of good-quality instruments measuring stigma experienced by family members of stigmatised people. Aims To develop a self-report measure of stigma among families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and examine associations between family stigma and other variables. Method The new Family Stigma Instrument (FAMSI) was tested with 407 family carers, 53% of whose offspring had an autism spectrum disorder in addition to intellectual disability. They also completed measures of subjective well-being, caregiver burden, self-esteem and social support. Results The FAMSI yielded a five-factor structure and had good reliability. Perceived family stigma, caregiver burden and subjective well-being were the strongest predictors of family stigma. Conclusions This instrument can advance our understanding of the impact of stigma on family members. It can also help us understand sociodemographic, psychosocial and contextual variables of both the carer and cared for person that may influence family members' experiences. 

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Structural relationship between emotional and social support for young adult carers towards intergenerational care of the multi-ethnic elderly

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the structural relationship between the emotional and social support provided for individuals with caring responsibilities for elderly relatives, and the quality of care actually delivered. In addition, the moderating role of gender is explored. Design/methodology/approach A quantitative research design was utilised in which 200 usable questionnaires were collected from 250 respondents comprised of young adults who adopt a caregiving roles in respect of elderly parents or other close elderly relatives. The structural equation modelling (SEM) technique was selected for data analysis, and the Analysis of moment structure software version 21 was used. Findings The SEM results revealed that emotional support for caregivers was the most important predictor affecting the intergenerational care of multi-ethnic elderly people. Additionally, a moderation analysis revealed that the relative influence in this connection was more pronounced among female caregivers. An increase in the emotional support received by the recipient was found to enhance the level of the relationship, and to result in closer intergenerational ties in the care of the multi-ethnic elderly. Furthermore, the receipt of social support positively influences the judgement of an individual, and expands that person's social network, which can subsequently have a favourable impact on the way in which one fulfils their caring role. The significant effect of social support provided for intergenerational caregivers in the context of the multi-ethnic elderly was higher in the group of male caregivers than in the group of female caregivers. Practical implications This study sends a strong message to policy-makers in developing countries about the need to consider within their National Policy for the Elderly, improvements in the national action plan for a holistic and integrated approach to ensure the well-being of caregivers and the elderly. Originality/value The results of the study help young adults to understand the importance of emotional and social support in boosting their relationships with parents and families and motivating intergenerational efforts in the care of the multi-ethnic elderly. Harmony within families is an important ideal in any circumstance, but in the scenario of ageing family members it may be even more essential to try to achieve it.

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A “separation of worlds”: The support and social networks of family carers of people with dementia at the end of life, and the possible role of the internet

Caring for someone with dementia is one of the most challenging caring roles; however, the demands of the role towards the end of life often mean carers are unable to maintain face-to-face support. The aim of this study was to: (a) Explore the experiences of older (over 65 years) family carers of people with dementia of support towards the end of life; (b) Explore with family carers the role of the internet as a support for them at the end of life. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, with purposive sampling from general practice and research networks to recruit 20 current and former family carers aged 65 and over in England (2016–2017). Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis. An overarching theme of the “separation of worlds” (the internal caring world and the outside world of society) was identified, with four sub themes: (a) the support role of relationships and social networks; (b) loss as a consequence of caring; (c) reconstruction of life as a carer; and finally; (d) life within and beyond the computer screen. This study demonstrates the complexity of social support at the end of life for family carers depicted in a model of two worlds. The internet can be seen as a viable approach to help carers maintain existing networks, reconstruct networks they have lost or developing new networks to meet their new needs and circumstances as a carer. Future support interventions should focus on a mixed model of technology and human interaction. 

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Family Caregiver Contribution to Self-care of Heart Failure: An Application of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model

Background: Adherence to self-care behaviors improves outcomes of patients with heart failure (HF). Caregivers play an important role in contributing to self-care. Objective: We aimed to explore the relationships among HF knowledge, perceived control, social support, and family caregiver contribution to self-care of HF, based on the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model. Methods: Two hundred forty-seven dyads of eligible patients with HF and family caregivers were recruited from a general hospital in China. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data obtained with the Caregiver Contribution to Self-care of Heart Failure Index, the Heart Failure Knowledge Test, the Control Attitudes Scale, and the Social Support Rating Scale. Results: In this model, caregiver contribution to self-care maintenance was positively affected by perceived control (β = .148, P = .015) and caregiver confidence in contribution to self-care (β = .293, P < .001). Caregiver contribution to self-care management was positively affected by HF knowledge (β = .270, P < .001), perceived control (β = .140, P = .007), social support (β = .123, P = .019), caregiver confidence in contribution to self-care (β = .328, P < .001), and caregiver contribution to self-care maintenance (β = .148, P = .006). Caregiver confidence in contribution to self-care was positively affected by HF knowledge (β = .334, P < .001). Conclusions: Heart failure knowledge, perceived control, and social support facilitated family caregiver contribution to self-care of HF. Targeted interventions that consider these variables may effectively improve family caregiver contributions to self-care.

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The impact of volunteering on the volunteer: findings from a peer support programme for family carers of people with dementia

With an ageing population, there are increasing numbers of experienced family carers (FCs) who could provide peer support to newer carers in a similar care situation. The aims of this paper are to: (i) use a cross-sectional study design to compare characteristics of volunteers and recipients of a peer support programme for FCs of people with dementia, in terms of demographic background, social networks and psychological well-being; and (ii) use a longitudinal study design to explore the overall impact of the programme on the volunteers in terms of psychological well-being. Data were collected from programmes run in Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Berkshire and four London boroughs between October 2009 and March 2013. The volunteer role entailed empathic listening and encouragement over a 10-month period. Both carer support volunteers (N = 87) and recipient FCs (N = 109) provided baseline demographic information. Data on social networks, personal growth, self-efficacy, service use and well-being (SF-12; EuroQol Visual Analogue Scale; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; Control, Autonomy, Self-Realisation, Pleasure-19) were collected prior to the start of the intervention (N = 43) and at either 3- to 5 month or 10 month follow-up (N = 21). Volunteers were more likely than recipients of support to be female and to have cared for a parent/grandparent rather than spouse. Volunteers were also more psychologically well than support recipients in terms of personal growth, depression and perceived well-being. The longitudinal analysis identified small but significant declines in personal growth and autonomy and a positive correlation between the volunteers' duration of involvement and perceived well-being. These findings suggest that carers who volunteer for emotional support roles are resilient and are at little psychological risk from volunteering. 

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Psychological distress, social support, and quality of life among cancer caregivers in Albania

Objective Drawing on the Stress Process Model, this study examines cancer caregiving in Albania. We used conditional process analysis to test the relationship between psychological distress and quality of life through social support and to examine whether gender moderates pathways in this mediation model. Methods Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a non-probability sample of 377 caregivers from the public oncology service. Standardized measures were selected based on psychometric properties and cross-cultural adequacy; all had good internal consistency. Results Participants reported high levels of psychological distress, moderate social support, and poor quality of life. Compared with men, women had higher levels of distress, worse quality of life, and comparable levels of support. Men were more likely to be caring for a spouse and to rely on friends, while women also cared for others and relied more on family. Social support mediated a strong negative relationship between psychological distress and QoL. These pathways did not differ by gender. Conclusions Cancer is increasing rapidly in developing countries, where family caregiving is the preferred and often only option for long-term, intensive care. This study points to high risks for psychological distress and reduced quality of life, especially for female caregivers in Albania. Findings further highlight the importance of social supports an as avenue for prevention and intervention to improve quality of life for both men and women. 

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Caregiver burden in Alzheimer's disease: moderation effects of social support and mediation effects of positive aspects of caregiving

Objectives: Although there are many studies on the relationship between patient‐related factors and negative caregiver outcomes, the specifics of this relationship are poorly understood. Aim: to examine whether caregiver social support moderated the relationship between patient factors and negative outcomes for caregivers of community‐dwelling older adults with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and whether positive aspects of caregiving mediated this relationship. Methods: a cross‐sectional study of patients diagnosed with AD from 2 hospitals and 3 communities in Taiyuan, China, and their caregivers. Latent moderated structural equations and the bias‐corrected percentile bootstrap method were used to estimate the parameters of moderating and mediating effects, respectively. Results: Social support significantly moderated the effects of AD patient cognitive function (P < 0.001) and depression (P = 0.001) on caregiver burden. Positive aspects of caregiving completely mediated the association between patient depression and caregiver burden (P = 0.006), caregiver anxiety (P = 0.007), and caregiver depression (P = 0.034). Conclusions: The findings identify social support as a moderator and positive aspects of caregiving as a mediator of the relationship between patient‐related factors and negative caregiver outcomes. The results suggest that health care providers must offer more effective social support for caregivers. In addition, prompt identification of patient and caregiver emotional states could help to improve quality of life.

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Social support and self-rated health of African American women informal caregivers: urban and rural differences

In this study, the authors examined how geographic location might differently influence social support and self-rated health for rural and urban African American women caregivers. They used cross-sectional data from 253 urban and 263 rural women primary caregivers. Controlling for key demographic factors, the authors regressed caregivers’ self-rated health on social engagement, structural, and functional aspects of social support for urban and rural caregivers separately. The perception of family functioning was positively associated with urban and rural caregivers’ self-rated health. Urban caregivers reported having significantly more contact with their family and more informal helpers compared to rural caregivers. Furthermore, church attendance, a measure of social engagement, was significant for urban caregivers’ self-rated health, but not rural caregivers. The study findings affirmed the importance of foregrounding context and disaggregating social support, and point to the need for interventions targeting family functioning and paying attention to geographic location.

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The carers' covenant

Based on the findings from research, this report makes recommendations provide better support for carers. The 12 policy recommendations cover five key themes of financial assistance, employment, identification and support, support networks and technology. Together, the policies together form a covenant for carers. The research looked at who informal carers are and the amount of care they provide, explored the experience of informal carers through two focus groups, and looked at the support available for carers internationally. The research found that the number of informal carers and the amount of care they provide has increased in recent years; that carers are often extremely stretched and overworked as a result of their responsibilities; and that the UK lags behind eight other countries examined for their support for carers - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Japan. It makes recommendations which aim to deliver greater financial security for informal carers, give them a better work/life balance, help ensure that carers are better identified, improve carers' access to peer support, and ensure that better use is made of the potential of technology to support carers. The recommendations include the introduction of a new Universal Carer’s Income for all carers providing more than 35 hours a week.

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It's Interpersonal: Family Relationships, Genetic Risk, and Caregiving

My research program considers family relationships across the life course: in early life, with a focus on disease prevention -- leveraging genetic risk information and relationships to motivate health-promoting behaviors -- and in later life, with a focus on informal caregiving -- identifying characteristics of those most vulnerable to, or resilient from, caregiver stress. It is fortuitous, if not tragic, then, that my research and personal worlds collided during my mother's final 8 months of life. Here, I discuss how this experience has shifted my thinking within both arms of my research program. First, I consider the state of the science in family health history, arguing that the current approach which focuses on an individual's first- and second-degree relatives does not take us far enough into the relational landscape to activate communal coping with disease risk. Second, I discuss caregiving from a family systems perspective. My family's experience confirmed the importance of using a systems approach and highlighted a need to identify underlying variability in members' expectations of caregiving roles. In so doing, I capture the significance of understanding the multiple perspectives that frame a context in which families adapt and cope with risk and disease diagnoses.

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Social consequences of family care of adults: a scoping review

The power of social connections is a contemporary focus of research across world regions. Yet, evidence of challenges to carers' social relationships remains fragmented and underexplored. The authors conducted a scoping review of 66 articles to create a state-of-knowledge review of the social consequences of caring. Findings indicate evidence of consequences for relationships with care receivers, with other family members and with broader social networks. Knowledge gaps include changes in relationships across time and in understanding diversity in the types and extent of consequences. Evidence challenges assumptions related to caregiving families and to the sustainability of family care.

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The tide is turning for carers

The authors explains how a growing UK-wide network, tide-together in dementia everyday, is ensuring that the expertise of carers influence dementia policy, research and practice. The network, created by carers for carers, does not provide direct support to services to people affected by dementia, so it's members are able to give completely impartial and independent feedback based soley on their lived experiences as carers. (Edited publisher abstract)

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Policy and advocacy for informal caregivers: How state policy influenced a community initiative

With a growing proportion of elderly in the global population, the role of 'informal caregivers' gains importance. Informal caregivers are unpaid family members or friends who provide assistance to home-dwelling adults with health-related needs or limitations. Internationally, informal caregivers provide important medical support to those with a variety of diseases. While informal caregivers will remain vital to the growing aging population's pursuit of healthy aging, they often suffer from 'caregiver burnout,' a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by their caregiving work. Policy and legislation are needed to diminish the burden on caregivers and to help assure that resources are allocated for these caregivers. We describe an initiative aimed at providing appropriate social support for caregivers by partnering among local organizations, hospitals, and health authorities. 

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Peer support for carers of people with dementia

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of Compass workers: a commissioned peer support model to support those caring for someone with dementia. Design/methodology/approach: The paper offers a descriptive summary of how Compass workers came to be and is informed by consultations with key stakeholders and a service evaluation encompassing both quantitative and qualitative aspects. Findings: The findings suggest that it is possible to make use of a peer support model to support those caring for someone with dementia in the context of support being provided to the cared for by statutory services. Both quantitative and qualitative data supported improvements in the quality of life for carers. Originality/value: Both health and social care are facing increasing pressures. This paper offers a positive approach to addressing these pressures utilising a peer support model to support carers that may be of value to others facing similar challenges.

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"helping my neighbour is like giving a loan..." -the role of social relations in chronic illness in rural Uganda

Background: Understanding individuals' experience of accessing care and tending to various other needs during chronic illness in a rural context is important for health systems aiming to increase access to healthcare and protect poor populations from unreasonable financial hardship. This study explored the impact on households of access to free healthcare and how they managed to meet needs during chronic illness. Methods: Rich data from the life stories of individuals from 22 households in rural south-western Uganda collected in 2009 were analysed. Results: The data revealed that individuals and households depend heavily on their social relations in order to meet their needs during illness, including accessing the free healthcare and maintaining vital livelihood activities. The life stories illustrated ways in which households draw upon social relations to achieve the broader social protection necessary to prevent expenses becoming catastrophic, but also demonstrated the uncertainty in relying solely on informal relations. Conclusion: Improving access to healthcare in a rural context greatly depends on broader social protection. Thus, the informal social protection that already exists in the form of strong reciprocal social relations must be acknowledged, supported and included in health policy planning.

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Caregivers had neighbourhood support but perceived it unsatisfactory and worsened: England Community Life Survey, 2012–2014

There has been limited research studying neighbourhood support for caregivers. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the support from neighbourhoods between both caregivers and non-caregivers in a country-wide and population-based setting. Data were retrieved from England Community Life Survey, 2012–2014, a new annual household survey conducted by face-to-face interview since 2012, with a representative sample size of 5–6000 adult (aged 16 years and over) resident per year in England. Chi-square test and logistic regression modelling were performed to examine the variance in support from and perception toward neighbourhoods between caregivers and non-caregivers. Of 15,320 study participants, 2315 (16.0%) had a caring responsibility. There was not much variance in feeling belonging, comfortably asking neighbours to keep keys, comfortably asking neighbours to mind children, believing neighbours pulling together and trusting people in the neighbourhood between caregivers and non-caregivers. However, caregivers seemed to be more likely to chat to neighbours (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.69–0.87, P < 0.001) and comfortably ask neighbours to help collect grocery (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.81–0.98, P = 0.023). In addition, caregivers tended to perceive their neighbourhoods unsatisfactory (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.05–1.32, P = 0.007) and worsened in the last 2 years (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.22–1.51, P < 0.001). For future research, a longitudinal neighbourhood monitoring surveillance for all people would be suggested. For practice and policy, environmental health and nursing programs might need to extend education trainings and interventions to cover all neighbourhoods at different time points that can lessen both disease and caregiving burden and therefore optimize health and quality of life.

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Impact of caregiver activities and social supports on multidimensional caregiver burden: analyses from nationally-representative surveys of cancer patients and their caregivers

Purpose Informal caregivers of individuals with cancer may experience substantial burdens. To develop interventions to support these caregivers, it is crucial to quantify and understand the domains of burdens potentially experienced by caregivers and factors contributing to each domain. Methods Using data from two national surveys, the National Survey of Caregiving (NSOC) linked to the National Health and Aging Trends Survey (NHATS), we identified all participants in the NHATS diagnosed with cancer who had a caregiver participating in the NSOC. Guided by a theoretical model, twenty-two items in the NSOC related to caregiver health, mood and outlook were included in factor analysis to develop scales capturing domains of burden. Multivariable regression analyses examined whether activities performed by caregivers and supports for caregivers were associated with these burden scales. Results Analysis of responses from 373 caregivers of cancer patients identified three scales: emotional burden; psychological burden; and relationship with the patient. Providing assistance managing medical care was associated with increased emotional and psychological burden, while assistance with non-medical issues increased psychological burden and worsened relationships with patients. Caregiver provision of direct patient care activities was also associated with increased burden but improved relationships with patients. Use of caregiver supports showed mixed associations with burden. Conclusions Using a nationally-representative sample of cancer patients and their caregivers and brief publicly-available survey questions, we present three scales addressing different aspects of caregiver burden that are responsive to caregiver activities and social supports. This may assist in developing and evaluating intervention to decrease caregiver burden.

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Health of caregiver-employees in Canada

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of various employment characteristics on the health of Canadian caregiver-employees (CEs), who are working full-time in the labor market while also providing informal/family care to adults. Design/methodology/approach Framed with Pearlin et al.’s (1990) stress model and using data from Statistic Canada’s General Social Survey Cycle 26 (2012), several work-related variables for caregivers were considered, including the availability of various forms of caregiver-friendly workplace policies (CFWPs), and a series of work interferences (WIs) experienced as a result of the caregiving role. Findings This study provides evidence for the value of CFWPs in all workplaces. Counter-intuitively, family and other forms of support were found to negatively relate to both physical and mental health. Originality/value This suggests that CFWPs will not only have an impact on CEs’ physical health outcomes, but will likely decrease the effect of the WIs experienced.

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Mental health carers' experiences of an Australian Carer Peer Support program: Tailoring supports to carers' needs

Carer Peer Support Workers (CPSWs) are people who have lived experience as carers/family members of persons with a mental illness, and are employed to provide support to other carers/family members. This qualitative study aimed to explore carers' experiences within a community-based CPSW pilot program in an Australian mental health service. Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with 20 carer participants in 2015, 5-10 months following their last contact with the service. Thematic analysis uncovered that carers were generally positive about the CPSW's emotional support, practical support, shared lived experience and mutual understanding, and the "ripple effect" the support had on service users. Some carers, on the other hand, felt that the support was unnecessary; either because they believed that it did not have a lasting effect, the focus should have been on the service user, or that they had previously received enough support. Nevertheless, the study highlighted how mental health services could best utilise and benefit from CPSWs. Moreover, to be most useful, the nature of the carer peer support work should be tailored to the specific needs of the carers; which may vary according to their culture, years of caring experience, and previous experiences with mental health services.

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Caregiving Stress Among American Indians With Type 2 Diabetes: The Importance of Awareness of Connectedness and Family Support

American Indian (AI) communities experience a disproportionate rate of Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cumulative exposure to stress. Although this link is well researched among various populations, it has not been examined among AI communities. Path analysis was used to examine a multiple-mediator model to explain how caregiver stress influences self-reported mental and physical health among 100 AI participants with T2D. Caregiver stress was negatively associated with physical and mental health. Physical health was positively associated with family/community connectedness and mental health was positively associated with both family support and connectedness. The relationship between caregiver stress and mental health was partially mediated by family/community connectedness; caregiver stress had no indirect effects on physical health via either hypothesized mediator. Findings demonstrate the importance of integrating individuals’ connection to family and community and its influence on caregiver stress and mental health in intervention programs targeting diabetes management and care among AI communities.

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Need for micro-finance self-help groups among women family caregivers of persons with mental disability in rural India

Purpose Micro-finance self-help groups empower caregivers to indulge in productive activities based on the local availability of resources to reduce their financial burden. The purpose of this paper is to assess the need for and feasibility of initiating micro-finance groups for the caregivers of persons with mental disability in a rural socio-economically backward community of Karnataka, India. Design/methodology/approach The design of the study was a cross-sectional survey, with mixed methodology design out of the eight localities where the Mental Health Public Health Centres (PHC) were running successfully in Konandur area, Thirthahalli Taluk, Karnataka, one PHC was selected using simple Random Sampling Design and a 5 kms radius from Konandur town was selected as the area of the survey (190 households). During door-to-door survey, if the family indicated that a particular member is mentally unwell, the GHQ-5 and Symptoms and Others checklist were administered on him/her and the women caregiver was interviewed using qualitative needs assessment schedule and Perceived Social Support Scale. Findings Ten persons/households with mental illness (5.26 per cent) were identified in the community. Themes of financial needs, capacity of the caregiver, community resources, need for the microfinance self-help groups, informational needs, social support, burn out, and stigma elicited in the interview were depicted in the form of a conceptual framework to understand the inter-connectedness between the various themes. Research limitations/implications This study is the first initiative in the field of micro-finance self-help groups for the persons with mental illness and families. The design of the study was a cross-sectional survey, which is found globally to be the most suited in conducting prevalence studies, as it provides accurate results for future studies as well as it is the first step to obtain accurate baseline values to later plan a prospective follow up study. The study used mixed methodology design. Though the sample size was small, the information collected from the participants in qualitative and quantitative method was triangulated and conceptual frameworks were developed. As this study is one of the first of its kind in the country, the results of this study from the stated sample can be considered as an important pilot for future longitudinal and cross-sectional studies to be planned in the community. Originality/value There is hardly any scientific literature which talks about the need for Micro-finance self-help groups for Persons with Disability, especially with person with mental disability. In order to initiate any Micro-finance SHG activities, it is essential to first undertake the need for and feasibility of initiating such micro-finance group activities in any given area. This study will be an important milestone in initiating any self-help group activity for caregivers of persons with mental disability, as it would help us understand the financial needs of the community, based on which a draft proposal to initiate micro-finance self-help group activities can be drawn up.

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Community-Dwelling People Living With Dementia and Their Family Caregivers Experience Enhanced Relationships and Feelings of Well-Being Following Therapeutic Group Singing: A Qualitative Thematic Analysis

The progression of dementia can severely compromise interpersonal connection and relationship quality between people living with dementia (PwD) and their family caregivers (FCG), leading to social isolation and poor quality of life for both. Therapeutic group singing (TGS) is a socially engaging, stimulating, and supportive pursuit that community-dwelling PwD and their FCG can participate in together. This study aimed to build on the findings from previous research by undertaking a thematic analysis of interviews with nine PwD (five women, four men; mean age = 79.1 years) and nine FCG (five women, four men; mean age = 75.7 years). The interviews explored participants’ perspectives and experiences of a 20-week TGS intervention, underpinned by Kitwood’s model of person-centered care. Inductive thematic analysis resulted in the emergence of five themes which described how TGS for PwD and their FCG: (1) included supportive therapeutic facilitation and design features; (2) made group singing more accessible; (3) fostered new empathic friendships; (4) enhanced relationships between PwD and FCG; and (5) led to personal feelings of wellbeing for both PwD and FCG. Affinity with others who had similar life experiences and challenges created a sense of mutual understanding and camaraderie, which made group singing accessible without fear of judgment and social stigmas. For some PwD/FCG dyads, TGS meant they could continue a lifelong passion for singing together, while others enjoyed participating in singing together for the first time. Both PwD and FCG participants described personal feelings of acceptance, improved social confidence, mood, and purpose. Further, participants valued mental stimulation from TGS such as learning new skills and memory support. A model explaining relationships between themes suggests that TGS with person-centered facilitation features for PwD/FCG dyads led to affinity among group members with ripple effects, which enhanced accessibility to group singing, the formation of empathic friendships, PwD/FCG relationship quality, and personal wellbeing for both PwD and FCG. Psychoemotional, social and cognitive benefits from TGS described by participants in this study are known to promote self-identity, healthy relationships, and quality of life. This research highlights a need for improved availability of TGS for community-dwelling PwD/FCG dyads.

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Developing a carer identity and negotiating everyday life through social networking sites: an explorative study on identity constructions in an online Swedish carer community

An overarching reason why carers do not utilise support services is that many people who perform care-giving do not necessarily self-identify as a carer. Understanding the development of carer identities is therefore crucial for the utilisation of different carer-focused health services. This study arose from the European Union-funded INNOVAGE project and aimed to describe how older carers conceptualise and understand their identity as carers on a Swedish online social forum. Theoretically the study adopts a constructionist approach and the method of netnography was applied. The findings reveal that a change in self-perception occurs in the process through which a carer role is acquired. The presence or absence of recognition for the older carers’ capacity, knowledge and life situation is seen as filtered through the needs of the care recipient, making the carer identity into an invisible self. This is not least the case when the identity is constructed in alliance with conceptual and moral obligations found within a marital discourse. Nevertheless, the opportunity for online communication may help to create a virtual space of social recognition through which different experiences attached to caring can be discussed. The significance of online communication is here understood as the possibility it presents for carers to be recognised by other carers. It is a process through which an invisible self can become visible.

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Changes in Families' Caregiving Experiences through Involvement as Participants then Facilitators in a Family Peer-Education Program for Mental Disorders in Japan

A family peer-education program for mental disorders was developed in Japan, similar to existing programs in the United States and Hong Kong. Families that serve as facilitators in such programs may enhance their caregiving processes and, thereby, their well-being. This study's aim was to describe how families' caregiving experiences change, beginning with the onset of a family member's mental illness, through their involvement in a family group or peer-education program as participants then facilitators. Thus, this study was conducted in a family peer-education program for mental disorders in Japan. Group interviews were conducted with 27 facilitators from seven program sites about their experiences before, during, and after becoming facilitators. Interview data were coded and categorized into five stages of caregiving processes: (1) withdrawing and suppressing negative experiences with difficulty and regret (2) finding comfort through being listened to about negative experiences (3) supporting participants' sharing as facilitators (4) understanding and affirming oneself through repeated sharing of experiences and (5) finding value and social roles in one's experiences. The third, fourth, and fifth stages were experienced by the facilitators. The value that the facilitators placed on their caregiving experiences changed from negative to positive, which participants regarded as helpful and supportive. We conclude that serving as facilitators may improve families' caregiving processes.

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Information, connection and giving back: peer support outcomes for families following acquired brain injury in South Australia

This study aimed to identify the experiences and outcomes of participation in Families4Families Inc., a peer support network for families following acquired brain injury (ABI) in South Australia. Prior to the programme's launch in January 2013, new members of the network were invited to participate in pre- and post-programme phone interviews to identify benefits and limitations of the programme, and identify outcomes of participation. Fifty-five members (20 people with ABI 35 caregivers) participated in pre-programme interviews, with 34 repeating the final interview at the end of the 18-month pilot programme in June 2014. Interview transcripts were imported into Nvivo 10, where comments were analysed using inductive data-driven thematic analysis. Responses to rating questions were analysed using SPSS 20. Attendance records indicate that 39 of 55 participants were involved in the programme (12 active, 27 occasional) and 16 participants did not attend. Active attenders reported that they provided and received higher levels of support and information than those who attended only occasionally, including the significantly higher development of new friendships and contacts (P < 0.001). Statistically significant improvements in knowledge of services by both active and occasional attenders were reported (P = 0.014 and 0.026 respectively) with non-significant improvements for non-attenders. Qualitative analysis of interview transcripts revealed three major thematic benefits of involvement. These include the opportunity to access information, receive emotional support and give back to others in the network. Reasons for no longer participating in the network are explored. Peer support programmes can enable families to share experiences, knowledge, positive coping strategies, understanding of systems and develop new social networks that last beyond the programme. The continuing need for extended regional access is highlighted, with follow-up and referral to counselling and other services also critical to ensure members are appropriately supported through difficult personal experiences.

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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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Feelings of burden among family caregivers of people with spinal cord injury in Turkey

Study design:The study was designed as a cross-sectional survey. Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine the level of feelings of burden in family caregivers of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) in Turkey, and to explore its predictors. Setting: Turkey. Methods: One hundred family caregivers of people with SCI completed measures of burden of caregiving, depression, social support and physical health. The SCI participants completed a measure of functional independence. Multivariate statistics and structural equation modeling (SEM) were conducted to identify significant predictors of caregiver burden. Results: Caregiver burden was significantly related to caregivers’ feelings of depression. SEM analysis showed that social support from family and from friends predicted caregiver burden via depression. Caregivers’age, sex, educational level, physical health and household income did not significantly predict their feelings of depression or burden. Conclusions: Our findings revealed that support received from both families and friends is an important source for alleviating the depressive feelings of caregivers and, in return, their burden in the caregiving. In Turkey, high support from family members is expected and is important for psychological well-being, yet the current study showed that the support received from friends also has unique contribution to the well-being of the caregivers of persons with SCI. Overall, ourfindings highlight the importance of supportive relationships between family as well as friends for the caregivers who may have to provide lifetime care for their family member with special needs.

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Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Moral Dimensions of Informal Caregiving in a Neoliberal Society

Within the current Dutch policy context the role of informal care is revalued. Formal care activities are reduced and family and friends are expected to fill this gap. Yet, there is little research on the moral ambivalences that informal care for loved ones who have severe and ongoing mental health problems entails, especially against the backdrop of neoliberal policies. Giving priority to one’s own life project or caring for a loved one with severe problems is not reconciled easily. Using a case study we illustrate the moral ambivalences that persons may experience when they try to shape their involvement and commitment when a relative is in need. The case comes from a research project which explores whether it is possible to reduce coercive measures in psychiatry by organizing a Family Group Conference. The purpose of the article is to explore what theoretical concepts such as ‘communities of fate’, ‘communities of choice’ and ‘personal communities’ add in understanding how persons shape their involvement and commitment when a family member experiences recurrent psychiatric crises.

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Sharing Care Responsibilities Between Professionals and Personal Networks in Mental Healthcare: A Plea for Inclusion

This positional paper explores the role of personal networks (family and friends) in caring for people with mental health problems. Since the eighties, major changes have been made in the organization and focus of professional mental healthcare. Correspondingly, new expectations and changes in the division of care responsibilities between people with mental health problems, their personal networks and their professional care providers were created. In this paper, I investigate how the transition in mental healthcare changed the allocation of care responsibilities between personal networks, people with mental health problems and professional caregivers. I will consider why care responsibilities of personal networks have been taken for granted in these processes, and discuss whether personal networks should have a more prominent voice in the assignment of care responsibilities, and how this can be done. A theoretical framework of feminist care ethics inspired by scholars such as Margaret Urban Walker, Joan Tronto and Hilde Lindemann is used to reflect on the need for social inclusion.

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Exposing the Backstage: Critical Reflections on a Longitudinal Qualitative Study of Residents' Care Networks in Assisted Living

In this article, we analyze the research experiences associated with a longitudinal qualitative study of residents’ care networks in assisted living. Using data from researcher meetings, field notes, and memos, we critically examine our design and decision making and accompanying methodological implications. We focus on one complete wave of data collection involving 28 residents and 114 care network members in four diverse settings followed for 2 years. We identify study features that make our research innovative, but that also represent significant challenges. They include the focus and topic; settings and participants; scope and design complexity; nature, modes, frequency, and duration of data collection; and analytic approach. Each feature has methodological implications, including benefits and challenges pertaining to recruitment, retention, data collection, quality, and management, research team work, researcher roles, ethics, and dissemination. Our analysis demonstrates the value of our approach and of reflecting on and sharing methodological processes for cumulative knowledge building.

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Perceived support from a caregiver's social ties predicts subsequent care-recipient health

Most social support research has examined support from an individual patient perspective and does not model the broader social context of support felt by caregivers. Understanding how social support networks may complement healthcare services is critical, considering the aging population, as social support networks may be a valuable resource to offset some of the demands placed on the healthcare system. We sought to identify how caregivers' perceived organizational and interpersonal support from their social support network influences care-recipient health.We created a dyadic dataset of care-recipient and caregivers from the first two rounds of the National Health and Aging Trends survey (2011, 2012) and the first round of the associated National Study of Caregivers survey (2011). Using structural equation modeling, we explored how caregivers' perceived social support is associated with caregiver confidence to provide care, and is associated with care-recipient health outcomes at two time points. All data were analyzed in 2016.Social engagement with members from caregivers' social support networks was positively associated with caregiver confidence, and social engagement and confidence were positively associated with care-recipient health at time 1. Social engagement positively predicted patient health at time 2 controlling for time 1. Conversely, use of organizational support negatively predicted care-recipient health at time 2.Care-recipients experience better health outcomes when caregivers are able to be more engaged with members of their social support network.

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Perceived support from a caregiver's social ties predicts subsequent care-recipient health

Most social support research has examined support from an individual patient perspective and does not model the broader social context of support felt by caregivers. Understanding how social support networks may complement healthcare services is critical, considering the aging population, as social support networks may be a valuable resource to offset some of the demands placed on the healthcare system. We sought to identify how caregivers' perceived organizational and interpersonal support from their social support network influences care-recipient health.We created a dyadic dataset of care-recipient and caregivers from the first two rounds of the National Health and Aging Trends survey (2011, 2012) and the first round of the associated National Study of Caregivers survey (2011). Using structural equation modeling, we explored how caregivers' perceived social support is associated with caregiver confidence to provide care, and is associated with care-recipient health outcomes at two time points. All data were analyzed in 2016.Social engagement with members from caregivers' social support networks was positively associated with caregiver confidence, and social engagement and confidence were positively associated with care-recipient health at time 1. Social engagement positively predicted patient health at time 2 controlling for time 1. Conversely, use of organizational support negatively predicted care-recipient health at time 2.Care-recipients experience better health outcomes when caregivers are able to be more engaged with members of their social support network.

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Components and Outcomes of Internet-Based Interventions for Caregivers of Older Adults: Systematic Review

Background: When trying to access interventions to improve their well-being and quality of life, family caregivers face many challenges. Internet-based interventions provide new and accessible opportunities to remotely support them and can contribute to reducing their burden. However, little is known about the link existing between the components, the use of behavior change techniques, and the outcomes of these Internet-based interventions.

Objective: This study aimed to provide an update on the best available evidence about the efficacy of Internet-based interventions for caregivers of older adults. Specifically, the components and the use of behavior change techniques and how they impact on the efficacy of the intervention were sought.

Methods: A systematic review searched primary source studies published between 2000 and 2015. Included studies were scored with a high level of evidence by independent raters using the GRADE criteria and reported caregiver-specific outcomes about interventions delivered through the Internet for caregivers of people aged 50 years and older. A narrative synthesis identified intervention components (eg, content, multimedia use, interactive online activities, and provision of support), behavior change techniques, and caregiver outcomes (eg, effects on stressors, mediators, and psychological health). The risk of bias within the included studies was assessed.

Results: A total of 2338 articles were screened and 12 studies describing 10 Internet-based interventions were identified. Seven of these interventions led to statistically significant improvements in caregiver outcomes (eg, reducing depression or anxiety, n=4). These efficacious interventions used interactive components, such as online exercises and homework (n=4) or questionnaires on health status (n=2) and five of them incorporated remote human support, either by professionals or peers. The most frequently used behavior change techniques included in efficacious interventions were provision of social support (n=6) and combinations of instructions to guide behavior change and barrier identification (n=5). The design and aim of the included studies did not permit determining exactly which component and/or behavior change technique was more efficacious in producing positive outcomes in caregivers. The risk for selection bias was low for all the studies, and low to high for performance, detection, and attrition biases.

Conclusions: In sum, Internet-based interventions that incorporate professional and social support, and provide instructions to change behavior and problem solve in an interactive manner appear to lead to positive outcomes in caregivers. Studies isolating the specific effect of components are needed to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanism of action.

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A Systematic Review of Psychosocial Interventions to Cancer Caregivers

Objective: To systematically review the effect of psychosocial interventions on improving QoL, depression and anxiety of cancer caregivers. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of psychosocial interventions among adult cancer caregivers published from 2011 to 2016. PsycINFO, PubMed, Proquest, Cochrane Library, Embase, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and EBSCO, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and WANFANG were searched. Inclusion criteria were: randomized controlled trails (RCTs); psychosocial intervention to cancer caregivers; psychosocial health indicators including quality of life, depression or anxiety. Results: 21 studies out of 4,666 identified abstracts met inclusion criteria, including 19 RCTs. The intervention modes fell into the following nine categories: family connect intervention, self-determination theory-based intervention (SDT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion-focused therapy (EFT), comprehensive health enhancement support system (CHESS), FOCUS programme, existential behavioral therapy (EBT), telephone interpersonal counseling (TIP-C), problem-solving intervention (COPE). Conclusion: paired-intervention targeting self-care and interpersonal connections of caregivers and symptom management of patients is effective in improving quality of life and alleviating depression of cancer caregivers while music therapy is helpful for reducing anxiety of cancer caregivers.

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Effectiveness of an online social support intervention for caregivers of people with dementia: the study protocol of a randomised controlled trial

Caregivers of people with dementia (PwD) face burden, feelings of loneliness, and social isolation. Previous studies have shown promising effects of online e-health interventions. Using social media may facilitate support for dementia caregiver networks. In an iterative step-wise approach, a social support tool entitled "Inlife" was developed. This paper describes the design of a study evaluating the effects of Inlife and its process characteristics. Methods: A mixed-method, randomised controlled trial with 122 caregivers of PwD will be conducted. Participants will be assigned to either the Inlife social support intervention or a waiting-list control group. After 16 weeks, the control group will obtain access to the Inlife environment. Data will be collected at baseline (T0) and at 8-week (T1), 16-week (T2) and 42-week follow up (T3). The 16-week follow-up assessment (T2) is the primary endpoint to evaluate the results on the primary and secondary outcomes, measured by self-reported questionnaires. The primary outcomes include feelings of caregiver competence and perceived social support. The secondary outcomes include received support, feelings of loneliness, psychological complaints (e.g., anxiety, stress), and quality of life. A process evaluation, including semi-structured interviews, will be conducted to examine the internal and external validity of the intervention. Discussion: Using a mixed-method design, our study will provide valuable insights into the usability, effectiveness, and factors related to implementation of the Inlife intervention. Our study results will indicate whether Inlife could be a valuable social support resource in future routine dementia care. Trial registration: Dutch trial register, NTR6131. Registered on 20 October 2016.

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Diabetes literacy and informal social support: a qualitative study of patients at a diabetes centre

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To explore the resources that patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes drew upon to manage the disease in their daily lives. BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes is a disease affecting Australian adults at a rate described as an 'epidemic'. Treatment usually focuses on patient self-management, which may require daily blood sugar monitoring, oral medications or injectable therapies, and regulating diet and exercise. Health research studies of patient self-management, including those involving type 2 diabetes, have focused largely on individual-centred definitions, though a number of studies, in particular qualitative studies, have indicated the positive role of social relationships and informal social networks. DESIGN: Exploratory, qualitative.  METHODS: The project focused on 26 patients attending a diabetes centre for clinical consultations with centre staff including doctors, diabetes educators, podiatrists and dietitians. The consultations were observed and audio recorded, followed by semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews with the patients and separate interviews with the consulting professional staff.  RESULTS: Overwhelmingly the patients drew on informal social networks of support to manage the disease. Spouses were significant, sometimes presenting with the patient as a 'team' approach to managing the disease. Sons and daughters also played a significant support role, especially interpreting during consultations and explaining health information. In some cases neighbours and also local community organisations provided informal support. Only two patients claimed not to use informal social support.  CONCLUSIONS: Informal social support in patients' self-management of type 2 diabetes was found to be an important factor to be considered by clinicians. The study suggested the need for a more deliberate or pro-active policy to involve patients' family and other informal social networks in treatment programs. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Clinicians may need document and incorporate informal social support in the development and implementation of patient management plans.

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Dyadic effects of gratitude on burden, conflict, and contribution in the family caregiver and sibling relationship

Family caregivers are a quickly growing population in American society and are potentially vulnerable to a number of risks to well-being. High stress and little support can combine to cause difficulties in health and personal relationships. Siblings are, however, a possible source of protection for the at-risk caregiver. This study examines the relationships between caregiver burden, relational conflict, individual contribution, and gratitude exchange between caregivers and their siblings as they attend to the issue of caring for aging parents. Dyadic data were collected through an online survey and were analyzed using a series of actor–partner interdependence models. Dimensions of gratitude related to reduced caregiver burden, improved care-related conflict, and promotion of greater contribution to caregiving.

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Peer-Delivered Models for Caregivers of Children and Adults with Health Conditions: A Review

Peer-delivered health models may hold important benefits for family members, yet their prevalence, components, and outcomes are unknown. We conducted a review of peer-delivered services for families of children and adults with serious health problems. Studies of interventions published between 2000 and 2016 were included if the intervention contained a component for family members. Of 88 studies that were assessed for their eligibility, five met criteria. Familial components included information about the health condition and management, strategies to enhance communication and stress, and the provision of emotional support. Outcomes were largely favorable, including reductions in distress and symptoms of trauma, enhanced quality of life, and positive perceptions of the peer therapeutic alliance. Peer-delivered services for family members may hold important benefits to caregivers however, the research base remains thin. A research agenda to develop and examine these models is discussed.

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Gender and socio‐economic inequalities in health and living conditions among co‐resident informal caregivers: a nationwide survey in Spain

AIMS: To explore the associations between social determinants, caregiver's network support, burden of care and their consequences in health and living conditions of informal caregivers.

BACKGROUND: The socio-demographic trends regarding population ageing and changes in family models trigger an increased demand for care.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study based on the 2008 edition of the National Disability, Independence and Dependency Situations Survey (DIDSS-2008) conducted by the National Statistics Institute in Spain.

METHODS: Analyses focused on persons identified as primary caregivers who co-reside with the dependent person. The associations between social determinants of caregivers, burden of care, support network and problems attributed to informal care (impaired health, depression, professional, economic and personal issues) were estimated by fitting robust Poisson regression models. Analyses were conducted separately for women and men.

RESULTS: The study sample included 6923 caregivers, 73% of women and 27% of men. Gender and socio-economic inequalities were found in assumption of responsibilities and burden of caring for dependents, which tend to fall more on women and persons of lower socio-economic level, who in turn have less access to formal support. These aspects translate into a higher prevalence of health, professional, economic and personal problems.

CONCLUSIONS: The study highlights gender and socio-economic inequalities in informal caregiving and its negative consequences. These findings may be useful in the design of policies and support programmes targeting the most affected groups of informal caregivers.

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Predicting psychological distress of informal carers of individuals with major depression or bipolar disorder

Caring for someone with a mental illness is associated with high levels of burden and psychological distress. Understanding these factors could be important to prevent the development of physical and mental health problems in carers. The purpose of the present study was to determine the contribution of coping styles and social support in predicting the psychological distress reported by informal carers (IC) of individuals with major depression or bipolar disorder. IC (n = 72) of adults with a diagnosed depressive illness were recruited from mental health organizations within the community setting. Carers completed the General Health Questionnaire, Brief COPE, and Social Support Questionnaire. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that 63% of the variance in psychological distress could be accounted for by adaptive and maladaptive coping styles and perceived quantity and satisfaction with social support. Satisfaction with social support (β = -0.508, P < 0.001) and maladaptive coping (β = 0.369; P < 0.001) were significant predictors of psychological distress. These findings suggest that interventions should consider coping styles, specifically the interaction between maladaptive behaviours and enhancement of quality of support, to assist carers to manage psychological distress, especially earlier in the caring role.

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Informal Caregiving Networks for Hospice Patients With Cancer and Their Impact on Outcomes: A Brief Report

This prospective study investigates informal care networks and their impact on hospice outcomes. Primary caregivers (N = 47) were the main source of data from 2 time points: within a week of enrollment in hospice and bereavement. Data were also collected from 42 secondary caregivers. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) determined correspondence between primary and secondary caregivers regarding informal care network size. Correlations were used to test associations between variables. Nonparametric paired sample tests were used to analyze change in anger and guilt. The ICC found poor correspondence (-0.13) between primary and secondary caregivers' network descriptions. Correlational analyses found a strong/moderate negative association between quality of dying (QOD) and grief ( r = -0.605, P < .05). Study participants reported increased anger (0.4, P < .05, range 1-5) and guilt (0.4, P < .05, range 1-5), particularly among caregivers with high levels of support. Findings suggest that improving QOD may facilitate postdeath coping for caregivers.

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The Self-Care Needs and Behaviors of Dementia Informal Caregivers: A Systematic Review

Background: More than 5.4 million informal caregivers (ICGs) in the United States care for persons with dementia (PWD). Failure of ICGs to incorporate self-care into their routine may lead to adverse health consequences. Caregivers and researchers need to understand the evidence around dementia ICGs' self-care practices.; Purpose: To synthesize evidence on the self-care needs and behaviors of Alzheimer's and dementia ICGs and its research implications.; Methods: PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched to conduct a systematic review of research. Orem's self-care theory and a concept analysis of self-management behaviors provided a framework for the review.; Results: Three themes emerged from 29 included studies: self-care needs and behaviors of ICGs, barriers to performing self-care, and enablers of self-care. The self-care needs of dementia ICGs included sleep, social engagement and support, and leisure activities. Self-care behaviors identified by this review were engaging in activities with the PWD, spiritual and religious activities, and taking a break from caregiving. Barriers to self-care were gender roles, self-sacrificing, minority ethnicity, and burden of caregiving. Enabling self-care involved acknowledging personal consequences of caregiving, balancing self-care needs with the PWD's needs, and positioning oneself as an objective/subjective duality.; Implications: Self-care is a dynamic, challenging aspect to caregiving, but supporting evidence is often limited or cannot be generalized. More studies are needed that include random sampling, heterogeneous samples, and quantitative methods. Additional research is needed to understand how self-care needs, behaviors, and barriers differ by caregiver race/ethnicity, gender, or relationship to the PWD.

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Informal Caregivers' Experiences and Perceptions of a Web-Based Peer Support Network: Mixed-Methods Study

Background: Web-based peer support interventions have shown promise in reducing social isolation and social support deficits among informal caregivers, but little research has examined how caregivers use and perceive these interventions.; Objective: In this study, we examined utilization and perceptions of a Web-based social support intervention for informal caregivers of wounded, ill, and injured United States military service members and veterans.; Methods: This was a mixed-methods study that used quantitative survey data and qualitative data from focus groups and interviews with informal caregivers enrolled in a Web-based peer support intervention to explore their use and perceptions of the intervention. The intervention was delivered via a website that featured interest groups organized around specific topics, webinars, webchats, and messaging functionality and was moderated by professionally trained peers. This study occurred in the context of a quasi-experimental outcome evaluation of the intervention, where intervention participants were compared with a group of military caregivers who were not enrolled in the intervention.; Results: Survey findings indicated that caregivers used the website infrequently, with 60.7% (128/211) visiting the website once a month or less, and passively, with a minority (32/144, 22.2%) of users (ie, those who had visited the website at least once during the past 3 months, N=144) posting comments or links to the network. Nonetheless, most users (121/144, 84.0%) endorsed moderate or greater satisfaction with the website on the survey, and focus group and interview participants reported benefiting sufficiently from passive use of the website (eg, reading posts). Quantitative and qualitative findings suggested that users viewed the website primarily as a source of informational support. Among 63.2% (91/144) of users who completed the survey, the most commonly reported network-related activity was obtaining information from the network's resource library, and focus group and interview participants viewed the network primarily as an informational resource. Focus group and interview participants expressed an unmet need for emotional support and the desire for a more personal touch in the forms of more active engagement with other caregivers in the network and the creation of local, in-person support groups for caregivers.; Conclusions: These findings suggest that Web-based peer support interventions may lend themselves better to the provision of informational (vs emotional) support and may need to be supplemented by in-person peer support groups to better meet caregivers' needs for emotional support.

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Facilitating aging in place: A qualitative study of practical problems preventing people with dementia from living at home

Although the majority of people with dementia wish to age in place, they are particularly susceptible to nursing home admission. Nurses can play an important role in detecting practical problems people with dementia and their informal caregivers are facing and in advising them on various ways to manage these problems at home. Six focus group interviews (n = 43) with formal and informal caregivers and experts in the field of assistive technology were conducted to gain insight into the most important practical problems preventing people with dementia from living at home. Problems within three domains were consistently described as most important: informal caregiver/social network-related problems (e.g. high load of care responsibility), safety-related problems (e.g. fall risk, wandering), and decreased self-reliance (e.g. problems regarding self-care, lack of day structure). To facilitate aging in place and/or to delay institutionalization, nurses in community-based dementia care should focus on assessing problems within those three domains and offer potential solutions.

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Contextual Challenges and the Mosaic of Support: Understanding the Vulnerabilities of Low-Income Informal Caregivers of Dependent Elders in Singapore

Informal caregivers play an increasingly important and demanding role in providing and ensuring long-term care for elders. To date, few studies have qualitatively explored the challenges and coping strategies adopted by informal caregivers of dependent elders from lower-income households in Singapore. Based on data from in-depth interviews with 19 respondents, this study provides detailed and nuanced accounts of the lived experiences of low-income informal caregivers. The strains associated with the scarcity of resources among low-income caregivers are compounded by contextual challenges such as fractured familial relationships, role conflicts, and perceived barriers in their institutional environment. To overcome these challenges, low-income caregivers resort to a mix of informal and formal sources of support. Suggested improvements for policies and service provision to address the vulnerabilities of low-income caregivers will also be discussed in light of current gaps.

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The perspectives of spouses of stroke survivors on self-management - a focus group study

Purpose: This qualitative study explored how stroke survivors' spouses described their own self-management, their partner's self-management post-stroke and how they had been supported in developing self-management.; Method: Focus group interviews were conducted with 33 spouses of stroke survivors 34-79 years of age. A constant comparative framework was used for the analysis.; Result: Stroke also affected the spouses, gave changes in their relationships and challenged in being a caregiver beside being partner. They felt burdened, lonely, sad, and guilty. To manage themselves, many participants created time for themselves. For most spouses, self-management was connoted with co-management because they perceived their partners were not able to manage themselves completely post-stroke. They often felt lost after their partners came home and reported that they learned how to coach their partners post-stroke by trial and error, without much professional support. Moreover, many spouses experienced informal peer support as helpful.; Conclusion: Spouses of stroke survivors should be involved as soon as possible in stroke-rehabilitation and continue at home post-discharge. In addition to enhancing the spouses' skills in caregiving and supporting self-management, stroke survivors' spouses also need support in their own emotional and role management. Moreover, peers can play a role in rehabilitation post-stroke. Implications for Rehabilitation Spouses of stroke survivors should be considered as full participants of stroke-self-management programs to enhance their skills in caregiving and supporting self-management. Stroke survivors' spouses need support in their own emotional and role management. Peer support can play a role in rehabilitation post-stroke for stroke survivors as well as their spouses.

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The influence of psychological factors on the burden of caregivers of patients with advanced cancer: Resiliency and caregiver burden

Objective: The aim of our study was to identify the influence of such psychological factors as emotional intelligence and perceived competence on caregiver burden in those who care for patients with advanced cancer.; Method: A total of 50 informal caregivers completed self-report assessments of resilience, perceived competence, emotional regulation, positive aspects of care, emotional distress, and burden. We conducted a quantitative study with a cross-sectional design. Descriptive statistics were obtained. Associations between the different variables were assessed using nonparametric and multiple regression analyses.; Results: Participants were mainly female (88%) and had an average of 20 months of caregiving. Their mean age was 47 years (range = 20-79). More than half of scored high on resilience, positive aspects of caring, and emotional distress, moderately on perceived competence, and low on burden. Most caregivers used cognitive restructuring and social support as coping strategies. Inverse negative correlations were observed among emotional distress, emotional state, and burden with perceived competence and positive aspects of caring (p < 0.05). Significant differences were obtained for emotional distress, cognitive restructuring, and resiliency. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that perceived competence, resiliency, and positive aspects of caring were the main predictors of burden.; Significance Of Results: Resilience, perceived competence, emotional regulation, and positive aspects of care constitute protective factors against caregiver burden. Taken together, these aspects should be promoted by the healthcare staff in order to facilitate caregiver adaptation and well-being.

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Informal caregiving as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes in individuals with favourable and unfavourable psychosocial work environments: A longitudinal multi-cohort study

Aim: To examine whether informal caregiving is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), and whether job strain and social support at work modify the association.; Methods: Individual participant's data were pooled from three cohort studies-the French GAZEL study, the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH) and the British Whitehall II study-a total of 21,243 study subjects. Informal caregiving was defined as unpaid care for a closely related person. Job strain was assessed using the demand-control model, and questions on co-worker and supervisor support were combined in a measure of social support at work. Incident T2D was ascertained using registry-based, clinically assessed and self-reported data.; Results: A total of 1058 participants developed T2D during the up to 10 years of follow-up. Neither informal caregiving (OR: 1.09, 95% CI: 0.92-1.30) nor high job strain (OR: 1.04, 95% CI: 0.86-1.26) were associated with T2D risk, whereas low social support at work was a risk factor for T2D (OR: 1.18, 95% CI: 1.02-1.37). Also, informal caregivers who were also exposed to low social support at work were at higher risk of T2D (OR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.08-1.82) compared with those who were not informal caregivers and had high social support at work (multiplicative test for interaction, P=0.04; additive test for interaction, synergy index=10).; Conclusion: Informal caregiving was not independently associated with T2D risk. However, low social support at work was a risk factor, and informal caregivers with low social support at work had even higher risks of T2D.

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Strengthening community mental health competence-A realist informed case study from Dehradun, North India

Few accounts exist of programmes in low- and middle-income countries seeking to strengthen community knowledge and skills in mental health. This case study uses a realist lens to explore how a mental health project in a context with few mental health services, strengthened community mental health competence by increasing community knowledge, creating safer social spaces and engaging partnerships for action. We used predominantly qualitative methods to explore relationships between context, interventions, mechanisms and outcomes in the "natural setting" of a community-based mental health project in Dehradun district, Uttarakhand, North India. Qualitative data came from focus group discussions, participant observation and document reviews of community teams' monthly reports on changes in behaviour, attitudes and relationships among stakeholder groups. Data analysis initially involved thematic analysis of three domains: knowledge, safe social spaces and partnerships for action. By exploring patterns within the identified themes for each domain, we were able to infer the mechanisms and contextual elements contributing to observed outcomes. Community knowledge was effectively increased by allowing communities to absorb new understanding into pre-existing social and cultural constructs. Non-hierarchical informal community conversations allowed "organic" integration of unfamiliar biomedical knowledge into local explanatory frameworks. People with psycho-social disability and caregivers found increased social support and inclusion by participating in groups. Building skills in respectful communication through role plays and reflexive discussion increased the receptivity of social environments to people with psycho-social disabilities participation, thereby creating safe social spaces. Facilitating social networks through groups increases women's capacity for collective action to promote mental health. In summary, locally appropriate methods contribute most to learning, stigma reduction and help-seeking. The complex social change progress was patchy and often slow. This study demonstrates a participatory, iterative, reflexive project design which is generating evidence indicating substantial improvements in community mental health competence.

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Informal Support, Health, and Burden Among Parents of Adult Children With Autism

Background and Objectives: Many adults with autism spectrum disorders require lifelong reliance on caregiver support. As these caregivers age and experience health challenges, social support can be critical. This study seeks to understand if caregiver health moderates the relationship between informal social support and caregiver burden.; Research Design and Methods: A total of 320 parents (age 50+ years) of adult children diagnosed with ASD were recruited from autism organizations and support groups and completed a web-based survey. Separate moderation analyses were used to determine if caregiver health was moderating the relationship between informal social support and composite caregiver burden, as well as the separate domains of developmental, time dependence, emotional burden, and impact of caregiving on finances. For each analysis, perceptions of available informal social support were the independent variable, composite and domains of caregiver burden were dependent variables, and parents' self-reported general health was the moderating variable.; Results: Caregiver health had a statistically significant moderating effect when predicting the relationships between informal social support and composite caregiver burden, as well as time dependence burden and impact of caregiving on finances.; Discussion and Implications: Increased attention should be focused on supporting the current and future needs of both aging caregivers and their adult children with ASD. Future research on the dynamics of social support, health, and burden is also urgently needed to address the growing number of aging caregivers of adults diagnosed with ASD.

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Care Arrangements in Dementia Care Networks: Findings From the DemNet-D Study Baseline and 1-Year Follow-Up

Objective: This study was conducted to describe care arrangements for persons with dementia (PwDs) who are living at home with the support of a dementia care network (DCN).; Method: Data on the utilization of formal and informal support were collected in face-to-face interviews at baseline and 1-year follow-up with PwDs and caregivers receiving support from 1 of 13 DCNs.; Results: Men with dementia were supported by twice as many informal caregivers as women (2 vs. 1, respectively, p < .001). Regional differences were found in home-care nursing services, social care groups, companion home services, and day care. The care situations were considered stable by most caregivers.; Discussion: DCNs appear to contribute to a high degree of perceived stability in care situations. Future research should investigate possible gender differences in informal support networks. DCNs should continue their efforts in making low-threshold services in rural areas available and accessible.

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Individualization and the Health Care Mosaic in Assisted Living

Background and Objectives: Assisted living (AL) is a popular residential long-term care option for frail older adults in the United States. Most residents have multiple comorbidities and considerable health care needs, but little is known about their health care arrangements, particularly over time. Our goal is to understand how health care is managed and experienced in AL by residents and their care network members.; Research Design and Methods: This grounded theory analysis focuses on the delivery of health care in AL. Qualitative data were gathered from 28 residents and 114 of their care network members followed over a 2-year period in 4 diverse settings as part of the larger study, "Convoys of Care: Developing Collaborative Care Partnerships in Assisted Living."; Results: Findings show that health care in AL involves routine, acute, rehabilitative, and end-of-life care, is provided by residents, formal and informal caregivers, and occurs on- and off-site. Our conceptual model derived from grounded theory analysis, "individualizing health care," reflects the variability found in care arrangements over time and the multiple, multilevel factors we identified related to residents and caregivers (e.g., age, health), care networks (e.g., size, composition), residences (e.g., ownership), and community and regulatory contexts. This variability leads to individualization and a mosaic of health care among AL residents and communities.; Discussion and Implications: Our consideration of health care and emphasis on care networks draw attention to the importance of communication and need for collaboration within care networks as key avenues for improving care for this and other frail populations.

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Predictors of depression and anxiety among caregivers of hospitalised advanced cancer patients

Introduction: Cancer is a chronic disease that requires long-term treatment and care. Caregivers of cancer patients are at greater risk of developing depression than the general population. The effect of caregivers' cognitive flexibility on depression and anxiety has not been studied. We aimed to investigate the social characteristics, burden level and cognitive flexibility of caregivers of advanced cancer patients, and determine the relationship between these factors and depression and anxiety. We hypothesised that factors such as cognitive flexibility and caregiver burden level significantly predict anxiety and depression.; Methods: The study included 69 primary informal caregivers of cancer patients of Stage 4 severity. Methods utilised included diagnostic semi-structured interviews, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Zarit Caregiver Burden Inventory and cognitive flexibility inventory.; Results: BDI scores were found to be statistically higher in caregivers who cared for men compared to those who cared for women (20.44 ± 2.06 vs. 13.29 ± 1.81; t = 2.60; p = 0.01). BDI mean scores were statistically lower in caregivers who received help with caregiving compared to those who did not (t = 2.62; p = 0.01). Cognitive flexibility level, burden level, and lack of social support were found to be predictors of caregiver depression.; Conclusion: The study showed that individuals with low cognitive flexibility levels are more likely to have depressive and anxiety symptoms. Based on our findings, we opine that evaluations of caregivers' cognitive strategies and social support are needed to determine the risk of depression in caregivers of cancer patients.

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Diversity in Older Adults' Care Networks: The Added Value of Individual Beliefs and Social Network Proximity

Objectives: Policy reforms in long-term care require an increased share of informal caregivers in elderly care. This may be more feasible for older adults who (believe they) can organize the care themselves and have a local social network. This study describes care network types, how they vary in the share of informal caregivers, and examines associations with characteristics of community-dwelling older adults, including individual beliefs and network proximity.; Method: Latent class analyses were applied to a subsample of older care receivers (N = 491) from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, in order to identify homogeneous subgroups of people with similar care networks. Multinomial regression analysis explored associations between network type and care receiver characteristics.; Results: Privately paid, coresidential, large informal, and publicly paid care network types were distinguished. Variation in informal care appeared mostly related to health, partner status, income, and proximity of children. Proximity of other potential informal caregivers did not affect the network type. Perceived control of care was highest in the privately paid network.; Discussion: The results suggest that local (non-)kin could be mobilized more often in coresidential networks. Increasing informal or alternative care in publicly paid networks is less likely, due to limited social and financial resources.

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Developing compassionate communities in Australia through collective caregiving: a qualitative study exploring network-centred care and the role of the end of life sector

Background: The new public health palliative care movement calls for a move away from an individualised model of caregiving to a whole of community approach which will increase expectations on community carers. In order to avoid carer isolation, exploitation and potential burnout there is then a very real need to understand environments and relationships which support collective community caregiving. In this research we explored in-home caring networks to understand if and how network centred care supports carers of the dying while developing a whole of community approach.; Methods: Over a 6-year period the research team spoke to 301 caregivers, service providers and community members via interviews and focus groups in regional, rural and urban Australia.; Results: People are already caring for their dying at home and doing it well provided they are comprehensively supported by networks of care. Being part of a caring network provided people with a sense of achievement and developed their death literacy which flowed into a myriad of other community activities. While caring networks are essential they are not widely supported by service providers. At worst, services are obstructive of peoples stated preferences for place of death and caring and often adopt a paternalistic approach. Place of care, in this case the home, was supportive of maintaining networks and peoples' wellbeing.; Conclusions: Operationalising public health approaches to palliative care requires moving to a place-based network centred model of care comprising formal and informal carers. Service systems need re-orienting to place caring networks as central to the caregiving process. This can be achieved by putting systems in place which initiate and maintain such networks and enable service providers to work with informal networks as equal and respectful partners.

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The challenges of shared decision making in dementia care networks

Background: Decision making is an important part of managing one's life with dementia. Shared decision making is the preferred way of involving people in decisions. Our study aimed to describe the challenges of shared decision making in dementia care networks.; Methods: A multi-perspective qualitative study using face-to-face interviews with 113 respondents in 23 care networks in the Netherlands consisting of 23 people with dementia, 44 of their informal caregivers, and 46 of their professional caregivers. The interview guide addressed the decision topics, who were involved in the decision making and their contributions to the decision making. We used content analysis to delineate categories and themes.; Results: The themes and categories that emerged are: (1) adapting to a situation of diminishing independence, which includes the continuous changes in the care network, resulting in shifting decision-making roles and the need for anticipating future decisions; and (2) tensions in network interactions which result from different perspectives and interests and which require reaching agreement about what constitutes a problem by exchanging information in the care network.; Conclusion: The challenges in dementia care networks relate to all dimensions of social health. They have implications for a model of shared decision making in dementia care networks. Such a model requires flexibility regarding changing capabilities to preserve the autonomy of the person with dementia. It needs working towards a shared view about what constitutes a problem in the situation. It asks for professionals to advocate for the involvement of people with dementia by helping them participate in ways that strengthen their remaining capacities.

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Social support and subjective burden in caregivers of adults and older adults: A meta-analysis

Background: Despite the generally accepted belief that social support improves caregiver adjustment in general and subjective burden in particular, the literature shows mixed findings, and a recent review concluded that the predictive strength of caregiver social support in determining caregiver burden is less evident, due to the conceptual diversity of this determinant.; Objective: The purpose of this review is to analyse the relationship of perceived and received social support with subjective burden among informal caregivers of an adult or older adult.; Methods: A systematic search was carried out up to September 2017 in the following databases: MEDLINE (PubMed), CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO), Scopus and ISI Proceedings, and a meta-analysis was performed with the results of the selected and included studies.; Results: Fifty-six studies were included in the meta-analysis, which provided 46 independent comparisons for perceived support and 16 for received support. Most of these studies were cross-sectional. There was a moderate, negative association of perceived social support on subjective burden (r = -0.36; CI 95% = -0.40, -0.32) and a very small, negative association of received support on subjective burden (r = -0.05; CI 95% = -0.095, -0.001).; Conclusions: 1) perceived and received support are not redundant constructs, 2) the relationships between social support and subjective burden depend on whether the social support is measured as perceived or received, 3) the relationship of perceived social support with subjective burden has a bigger effect size than that of received social support, the relation between received support and subjective burden being clinically irrelevant, 4) perceived social support may be a good predictor of subjective burden.; Implications Of Key Findings: Our findings broadly support interventions promoting social support in caregivers to prevent or alleviate subjective burden, and specifically, to intervene on the promotion of perceived social support more than on the promotion of received social support when preventing or alleviating burden.

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A mismatch between supply and demand of social support in dementia care: a qualitative study on the perspectives of spousal caregivers and their social network members

Background: Access to social support contributes to feelings of independence and better social health. This qualitative study aims to investigate multi-informant perspectives on informal social support in dementia care networks.; Methods: Ten spousal caregivers of people with dementia (PwD) completed an ecogram, a social network card and a semi-structured interview. The ecogram aimed to trigger subjective experiences regarding social support. Subsequently, 17 network members were interviewed. The qualitative analyses identified codes, categories, and themes.; Results: Sixth themes emerged: (1) barriers to ask for support; (2) facilitators to ask for support; (3) barriers to offer support; (4) facilitators to offer support; (5) a mismatch between supply and demand of social support; and (6) openness in communication to repair the imbalance.; Discussion: Integrating social network perspectives resulted in a novel model identifying a mismatch between the supply and demand of social support, strengthened by a cognitive bias: caregivers reported to think for other social network members and vice versa. Openness in communication in formal and informal care systems might repair this mismatch.

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Coping strategies and quality of life: a longitudinal study of high-grade glioma patient-caregiver dyads

Background: Among a sample of patient-informal caregiver dyads in the specific context of new diagnoses of high-grade glioma in the time-frame between diagnosis and the third month following diagnosis, we examine whether the coping strategies implemented by the patients and their caregivers influenced their own quality of life (QoL) and the QoL of their relatives.; Methods: Thirty-eight dyads with patients having recent diagnoses of high-grade glioma were involved in this longitudinal study. The self-reported data include QoL (Patient-Generated Index, EORTC QLQ-C30, and CareGiver Oncology Quality of Life), and coping strategies (BriefCope). Data were collected at T1 corresponding to the time-frame between diagnosis and postsurgical treatment initiation and T2 corresponding to the 3-month post-inclusion follow-up.; Results: Coping strategies based on social support and avoidance were the least used at baseline and the 3-month follow-up, both for patients and caregivers. At the 3-month follow-up, the use of social support at baseline was significantly related to lower scores of QoL for the patients and with higher QoL for the caregivers. For the patient, the use of problem-solving or positive thinking at baseline was not related to his/her QoL, while it was related to more satisfactory QoL scores for the caregiver. The use of avoidance at baseline was linked to a higher 3-month QoL for the patients and a lower 3-month QoL for the caregivers. Using the specific dyadic analyses (actor-partner interdependence model), the 3-month patient's QoL was lower (β = - 0.322; p = 0.03) when the patient mobilized the social support strategy at baseline, but was higher(β = 0.631; p < 10- 3) when his/her informal caregiver used this strategy. After adjustment for sex, age, and baseline PGI score, the link between high use of the social support strategy at baseline by the caregiver and the patient's 3-month QoL, remained present (positive partner effect; β =0.675; p < 10- 3).; Conclusion: The QoL for patients and their informal caregivers since the time of diagnosis is directly related to the use of coping strategies based on social support at time of diagnosis.

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Usage and Usability of a Web-based Program for Family Caregivers of Older People in Three European Countries: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation

InformCare is a European Web platform that supports informal caregivers of older people by providing access to online information and professional and peer support. The aim of this study was to assess the usage and usability of a psychosocial Web-based program carried out in three European countries (Italy, Sweden, and Germany). A mixed-methods sequential explanatory design was adopted, comprising baseline and postintervention assessments, as well as combined thematic content analysis of results and focus group findings. A convenience sample of 118 caregivers was enrolled, of whom 94 used the services offered by the program at least once. The subsamples in the three countries used the platform in different ways, with a predominance of passive strategies (eg, seeking information and reading other people's comments) for Italian caregivers, and more active usage by Swedish and German caregivers. The usability assessment showed that the platform was perceived well by Italian and German caregivers, whereas technical problems affected the Swedish sample's experiences. Focus group data highlighted user satisfaction with the online support and reliability of the environment. Recommendations for practitioners are to ensure digital training for caregivers who have lower confidence in use of the Internet, to involve different healthcare professionals in the provision of professional support, and to adequately manage online community building.

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Correlates of depression in caregivers of Ultra-Orthodox frail older adults

Depression is the most frequent negative health outcome among informal caregivers. The aims of the current study were (a) to assess the level of depression, (b) to explore associations among care recipients' characteristics, caregivers' characteristics, situational factors, and depression among Ultra-Orthodox Jewish (UOJ) caregivers. A total of 112 (44 men and 68 women) UOJ primary caregivers of frail older adults were interviewed face-to-face in their homes, using valid and reliable measures. Participants reported a notable depressive symptomatology. Three variables emerged as significant predictors of caregiver depression: higher external control (chance), being a spouse, and lower levels of social support. External locus of control, being a spouse, and social support were found to be highly important factors for explaining depression among UOJ caregivers. Resources should be allocated to target spousal caregivers with lower levels of social support and a greater sense of external locus of control in order to alleviate their depressive symptomatology.

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The role of medical/nursing skills training in caregiver confidence and burden: A CanCORS study

Background: Informal cancer caregivers provide essential support to cancer patients, including performing direct medical/nursing tasks, assisting with activities of daily living, and offering social support. This study examined associations between the receipt of medical/nursing skills training and the caregiver burden as well as the mediation of caregiving confidence on this relationship in a sample of caregivers of lung and colorectal cancer patients.; Methods: Caregivers who had been identified by cancer patients in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance consortium completed a questionnaire assessing the care provided, the type of medical/nursing skills training received, the burden (measured with the modified short-form Zarit Burden Interview), and the confidence in caring for their patient's physical needs. Regression models that had been adjusted for sociodemographic, caregiver, and care recipient characteristics assessed the relationship between training received and burden, and a mediation analysis assessed the role of confidence in this relationship.; Results: Six hundred forty-one caregivers performed some type of medical/nursing task, with 59% (n = 377) reporting that they did not receive training for all the care provided. Caregivers reported moderate levels of burden (mean summary score, 32.07; standard deviation, 12.66; possible range, 14-70), and a lack of receipt of training was associated with greater levels of burden (b = 2.60; standard error, 0.98; P = .01). Confidence partially mediated the relation between training and burden (Sobel's t = 1.90; P = 0.03).; Conclusions: As the number of cancer patients and caregivers increases, understanding how best to reduce the caregiver burden is necessary. Skills training is a potential area for interventions, but research on how best to provide training for caregivers (ie, the content, mode of delivery, and timing) is needed. 

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Mediating Effects of Social Support on Quality of Life for Parents of Adults with Autism

The aim of this study was to examine the mediating effect of formal and informal social support on the relationship of caregiver burden and quality of life (QOL), using a sample of 320 parents (aged 50 or older) of adult children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Multiple linear regression and mediation analyses indicated that caregiver burden had a negative impact on QOL and that informal social support partially mediated the relationship between caregiver burden and parents' QOL. Formal social support did not mediate the relationship between caregiver burden and QOL. The findings underscored the need to support aging parents of adult children with ASD through enhancing their informal social support networks.

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Caregivers' Support Network Characteristics Associated with Viral Suppression among HIV Care Recipients

Informal care receipt is associated with health outcomes among people living with HIV. Less is known about how caregivers' own social support may affect their care recipient's health. We examined associations between network characteristics of informal caregivers and HIV viral suppression among former or current drug using care recipients. We analyzed data from 258 caregiver-recipient dyads from the Beacon study, of whom 89% of caregivers were African American and 59% were female. In adjusted logistic regression analysis, care recipients had lower odds of being virally suppressed if their caregiver was female, was caring for youth involved in the criminal justice system, and had network members who used illicit drugs. Caregivers' greater numbers of non-kin in their support network was positively associated with viral suppression among care recipients. The findings reveal contextual factors affecting ART outcomes and the need for interventions to support caregivers, especially HIV caregiving women with high-risk youth.;

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Social and health-related factors associated with refraining from seeking dental care: A cross-sectional population study

Background: Social inequities are considered to affect healthcare utilization, whereas less is known about the factors associated with refraining from seeking dental care. This study aimed to investigate whether people with no social support, long-term illness, caregiver burden and low socioeconomic status (SES) refrained from seeking dental care in higher proportion than the general Swedish population.; Methods: This study used cross-sectional questionnaire data from repeated nationwide health surveys during 2004-2013 of a total of 90 845 people. The questionnaire included questions on demographic characteristics, social support, long-term illness, caregiving burden, SES and dental care-seeking behaviour. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, correlation analyses and logistic regressions were used to investigate associations between independent variables and dental care-seeking behaviour.; Results: In the total sample, 15.1% of respondents reported refraining from seeking dental care. Having no emotional social support or having no instrumental social support was separately associated with reporting refraining from seeking dental care in adjusted multivariate models (odds ratio [OR] 1.26, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18-1.34 and OR: 1.89, 95% CI: 1.67-2.13, respectively). Having a long-term illness was associated with refraining from seeking dental care in adjusted models (adjusted OR: 1.43, 95% CI: 1.35-1.51). Furthermore, being an informal caregiver was associated with refraining from seeking dental care (adjusted OR: 1.15, 95% CI: 1.07-1.23). Low SES was associated with higher refraining from seeking dental care; the strongest association was with having financial problems (adjusted OR: 3.57, 95% CI: 3.19-4.00). Interaction effects were found between education level and SES, and between social support and long-term illness, and the outcome.; Conclusions: The findings in this study imply that having no social support, having long-term illness, being informal caregiver or having financial problems are factors associated with reporting refraining from seeking dental care, on a population basis.

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Social networks, social support and social negativity: A qualitative study of head and neck cancer caregivers' experiences

Head and neck cancer is a serious form of cancer that can generate substantial physical and psychosocial morbidity. Informal caregivers can help patients to manage head and neck cancer and its emotional impacts, both during and after treatment. Caregivers, however, can experience considerable stress as a result of their caring activities. Supportive relationships can protect caregivers from psychosocial strain. Thirty-one head and neck cancer caregivers were interviewed about their experiences of accessing social support from their social networks; difficulties that they experienced accessing this support; and strategies that they used to address these difficulties. Results suggest that head and neck cancer caregivers strongly value social support, but can find it difficult to obtain, and a number of them experience socially negative responses from their networks. Some carers attempt to answer or supplement support deficiencies by turning to non-human coping supports, such as pets, spiritual figures or medication. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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Coping Well with Advanced Cancer: A Serial Qualitative Interview Study with Patients and Family Carers

Objectives: To understand successful strategies used by people to cope well when living with advanced cancer; to explore how professionals can support effective coping strategies; to understand how to support development of effective coping strategies for patients and family carers.; Design: Qualitative serial (4-12 week intervals) interview study with people with advanced cancer and their informal carers followed by focus groups. The iterative design had a novel focus on positive coping strategies. Interview analysis focused on patients and carers as individuals and pairs, exploring multiple dimensions of their coping experiences. Focus group analysis explored strategies for intervention development.; Participants: 26 people with advanced (stage 3-4) breast, prostate, lung or colorectal cancer, or in receipt of palliative care, and 24 paired nominated informal/family carers.; Setting: Participants recruited through outpatient clinics at two tertiary cancer centres in Merseyside and Manchester, UK, between June 2012 and July 2013.; Results: 45 patient and 41 carer interviews were conducted plus 4 focus groups (16 participants). People with advanced cancer and their informal/family carers develop coping strategies which enable effective management of psychological wellbeing. People draw from pre-diagnosis coping strategies, but these develop through responding to the experience of living with advanced cancer. Strategies include being realistic, indulgence, support, and learning from others, which enabled participants to regain a sense of wellbeing after emotional challenge. Learning from peers emerged as particularly important in promoting psychological wellbeing through the development of effective 'everyday', non-clinical coping strategies.; Conclusions: Our findings challenge current models of providing psychological support for those with advanced cancer which focus on professional intervention. It is important to recognise, enable and support peoples' own resources and coping strategies. Peer support may have potential, and could be a patient-centred, cost effective way of managing the needs of a growing population of those living with advanced cancer.;

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Like an extended family: Relationships that emerge when older caregivers use written messages to communicate in an ICT-based healthcare service

Objective: To explore the relationships that emerge amongst caregivers of persons with dementia and stroke when caregivers use written messages as their communication tool in a closed information and communication technology (ICT)-based support group. Methods: An explorative design with a qualitative approach was used that applied systematic text condensation (STC) to analyse 173 written messages extracted from a web forum.Results: Empathetic, empowering and familiar relationships emerged amongst peers of older caregivers when the caregivers used written messages as their communication tool. The empathetic relationship was characterised by sincerity and openness when the caregivers shared emotions related to caregiving. The empowering relationship reflected a fellowship based on solidarity influenced by a sense of optimism and a willingness to share knowledge to support one another in overcoming challenges. In the familiar relationship, the caregivers were thoughtful and good-humoured with one another and displayed an attitude of consideration towards one another, as in an extended family. Practice Implication: The use of computer-mediated communication in health care service will change the context of establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Therefore, greater knowledge regarding how the peers of caregivers interact with one another is vital so nurses may better support and educate ICT-based support groups. 

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Support groups for Alzheimer’s caregivers: Creating our own space in uncertain times

Older men are often excluded from family caregiving research despite the steady increase in the number of husbands assuming primary caregiving roles. We explored perceptions of older, male caregivers’ experiences with caring for a wife with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and examined what aspects of the support group were beneficial. Our qualitative research methods invited six caregivers ranging in age from 74 to 85 years to narratively construct their perspectives on caring for their wives with Alzheimer’s Disease and benefits of participation in an all-male support group. Thematic analyses revealed caregivers faced several transitions. “Losses related to their personal relationships with their wife, family, and self,” captured as loss of golden years. The second area, benefits and improvements of support groups, were captured in the following theme: “creating our own space,” which included two sub-themes: “releasing our frustration” and “developing coping strategies.” There was also “Gendered experience of caregiving.” This study revealed that male caregivers benefited from the support and company of other men in similar caregiving situations. Results from this study have implications for health care professionals for the development of psychosocial educational groups aimed at providing support to male caregivers. 

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Quality of life in family caregivers of schizophrenia patients in Spain: caregiver characteristics, caregiving burden, family functioning, and social and professional support

Objective: Caregivers experience physical and mental stress that ends up lowering their quality of life (QoL). Our goal was to research (a) the level of caregivers QoL; (b) the relationships between the demographic characteristics of the caregivers, their caregiving burden, their family functioning, their social and professional support and their QoL and (c) the best predictors of caregivers QoL. Methods:100 key caregivers (70% parents, 8% spouses, 17% siblings and 5% children) were studied using the world health organization quality of life-Bref (WHOQOL-BREF) to research their QoL, the Zarit Scale to assess their perception of their caregiving burden, the Social Network Questionnaire to examine their social support, the Family APGAR to assess the satisfaction with social support from the family and a professional support scale (Escala de Apoyo Profesional) to determine the professional support received by caregivers was performed. Results: Scores on the WHOQOL-BREF in the Physical, Psychological, Social and Environment domains were 15.0 (SD = 3.7), 13.3 (SD = 4.2), 11.0 (SD = 4.7) and 13.5 (SD = 3.1), respectively. Through bivariate analysis, the dimensions that showed a positive significant association with QoL were being a young male caregiver who was a working father with a high educational level and help from other family members. Caregivers of patients who were older and had a later onset of the illness, a lower score on the Zarit Scale and a high score on the Social Network Questionnaire, Family APGAR and Escala de Apoyo Profesional showed higher QoL. Many of these variables made a unique contribution in the multivariate analysis. Conclusions: There is a significant association between the caregiver’s burden and their QoL. Regression analysis showed that the best predictors of QoL were caregiving burden, social support and professional support. 

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The predictive factors for perceived social support among cancer patients and caregiver burden of their family caregivers in Turkish population

Objectives: We aimed to identify the predictive factors for the perceived family social support among cancer patients and caregiver burden of their family caregivers. Methods: Participants were 302 cancer patients and their family caregivers. Family social support scale was used for cancer patients, burden interview was used for family caregivers.All subjects also completed Beck depression invantery. The related socio-demographical factors with perceived social support (PSS) and caregiver burden were evaluated by correlation analysis. To find independent factors predicting caregiver burden and PSS, logistic regression analysis were conducted. Results: Depression scores was higher among patients than their family caregivers (12.5 vs. 8). PSS was lower in depressed patients (p < .001). Family caregiver burden were also higher in depressive groups (p < .001). Among patients only the depression was negatively correlated with PSS (p < .001,r = −2.97). Presence of depression (p < .001,r = 0.381) was positively correlated and family caregiver role was negatively correlated (p < .001,r = −0.208) with caregiver burden. Presence of depression was the independent predictor for both, lower PSS for patients and higher burden for caregivers. Conclusions:The results of this study is noteworthy because it may help for planning any supportive care program not only for patients but together with their caregiver at the same time during chemotherapy period in Turkish population. 

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To be or not to be? A caregiver's question: the lived experience of a stroke family during the first 18 months poststroke

Background: Disability following a stroke often requires family, commonly a spouse, to provide care enabling the stroke survivor to return home. Immediate or extended family and friends may help provide direct care or support the primary caregiver. While family members share the common stroke experience, this is lived within the context of separate lives. Research examining the individual nuances, roles and contribution of family and/or friends forming part of collective stroke networks, has largely been overlooked. Aim: This New Zealand study aimed to explore the lived experience of three stroke family members during the 18 months following a first‐ever stroke. Method: Hermeneutic phenomenology guided the study. Informed consent was obtained prior to individual interviews conducted 6 weeks, 12 months and 18 months poststroke. Findings: Three main themes emerged: (i) Being prepared, (ii) Where you stand changes the view and (iii) Relinquishing and reclaiming. Being prepared revealed how these family members anticipated the stroke and drew on personal and professional experience in facing the phenomenon. The second theme showed the influence of expectation and positionality on family members' experiences. Relinquishing and reclaiming identified loss, grief and a quest for equity in the synthesis of competing stroke survivor and caregiver desires. Conclusions: Familiarity with the caregiving role and experience of unreliable community services led stroke family members to question the primary caregiver's ability to resume caregiving following a family member's stroke. The primary caregiver was physically and emotionally spent, and rest home care for the survivor became the only self‐preserving option. A new caring arrangement was formulated seeking equity for both stroke survivor and caregiver. 

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Being we and being me: Exploring the needs of Austrian families with caring children

Children and adolescents with caring responsibilities are an uncontested reality in our society. Most are hidden from public view, and they perform a broad range of caring activities for chronically ill or disabled family members. The research literature has accumulated a comprehensive body of knowledge about young carers’ personal needs. However, knowledge and understanding are limited regarding the needs of young carers’ families. This knowledge can contribute to preventing children and adolescents from assuming inappropriate caring roles. A qualitative research approach was used to investigate the needs of young carers’ families in terms of managing daily caring demands. Nine family interviews were conducted with 34 individuals including 15 young carers during spring/summer 2015 in eastern Austria. Open and axial coding procedures and constant comparison method were used to analyse the data. The findings revealed that young carers’ families need to live in accordance with their inherent family logic. Family logic is generated and maintained via (i) family reciprocity that involves the natural help within the family, (ii) individual developmental space that allows family members to be perceived and act as individuals and (iii) network cooperation that offers formal and informal support and recognition from society in general. The findings contribute to understanding how families with caring children manage the caring demands of their everyday lives. The findings also indicate that formal support for families with young carers should consider the individuality of caring arrangements with respect to the holistic and personal needs and avoid stigmatising families that integrate children into caring.

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Factors affecting the health-related quality of life of caregivers of patients with muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of progressive muscle weakness diseases. The caregiver burden, increasing as the disease progresses, can be associated with impaired health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The aims of this study were to investigate the HRQOL in caregivers of patients with MD and identify the factors associated with HRQOL. A cross-sectional assessment of caregiver HRQOL was performed with the Short Form-36 and compared with norms. The factors affecting HRQOL were investigated by patient and caregiver characteristics. The Muscular Dystrophy Functional Rating Scale was used to assess the functional status (mobility, basic activities of daily living, arm function, and impairment) of patients. The demographic data and social interaction activities of caregivers were assessed. Caregivers (n = 62) had poor HRQOL. Caregiver HRQOL was associated with the patient’s functional status, especially in the domains of Vitality and Mental Health. Numerous visits by neighbors and close friends of the caregiver family indicated better HRQOL (in the body pain, general health, vitality, role emotion and mental health domains). Caregiver HRQOL was associated with caregiver education level, while patient age, caregiver age, length of caregiving, and family income were not. These findings demonstrate that caregivers have poor HRQOL, and the mental domain of quality of life is associated with the patient’s functional status, social interaction, and caregiver education level. We suggest that rehabilitation programs focus on caregiver HRQOL, promote the patient’s functional status with assistive technology, enhance professional caring techniques, and encourage participation in social groups to improve caregiver HRQOL. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Maneuvering Together, Apart, and at Odds: Residents' Care Convoys in Assisted Living

Objectives: Frail and disabled individuals such as assisted living residents are embedded in "care convoys" comprised of paid and unpaid caregivers. We sought to learn how care convoys are configured and function in assisted living and understand how and why they vary and with what resident and caregiver outcomes. Method: We analyzed data from a qualitative study involving formal in-depth interviews, participant observation and informal interviewing, and record review. We prospectively studied 28 residents and 114 care convoy members drawn from four diverse assisted living communities over 2 years. Results: Care convoys involved family and friends who operated individually or shared responsibility, assisted living staff, and multiple external care workers. Residents and convoy members engaged in processes of "maneuvering together, apart, and at odds" as they negotiated the care landscape routinely and during health crises. Based on consensus levels, and the quality of collaboration and communication, we identified three main convoy types: cohesive, fragmented, and discordant. Discussion: Care convoys clearly shape care experiences and outcomes. Identifying strategies for establishing effective communication and collaboration practices and promoting convoy member consensus, particularly over time, is essential to the creation and maintenance of successful and supportive care partnerships. 

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Engagement in health-promoting behaviors and patient-caregiver interdependence in dyads facing advanced cancer: an exploratory study

Diet and exercise are important for the wellbeing of people with cancer and their family caregivers. Unfortunately, little is known about their behaviors over time or factors that may influence their engagement in these behaviors. This exploratory study examined the influence of chronic conditions, symptom distress, and perceived social support on exercise and diet behaviors of patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers using the actor-partner interdependence mediation model (APIMeM) and interdependence theory as guiding frameworks. This secondary analysis uses self-report data from a large RCT (N = 484 patient-caregiver dyads) at three time points: baseline data was collected within three months of the diagnosis, at 3 months post-baseline, and 6 months post-baseline. A number of actor effects were observed: patient and caregiver prior exercise and diet were significant predictors of their own future exercise and diet behaviors; more patient-reported social support was associated with less patient exercise; more patient symptom distress was associated with poorer patient diet; and, more caregiver-reported social support was associated with more caregiver exercise and better caregiver diet. Partner effects were also observed: more patient exercise was positively associated with more caregiver exercise; more patient comorbidities were associated with better caregiver diet; more caregiver-reported social support was associated with better patient diet; and, more patient-reported social support was associated with better caregiver diet. Despite the challenges of advanced cancer and caregiving, past exercise and diet behavior remained a significant predictor of future behavior. Other health problems and perceptions of social support within the dyad may exert a positive or negative influence on patient/caregiver diet and exercise. 

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Profile and burden of care among caregivers of Ultra-Orthodox Frail Elders

Objective: A paucity of research exists on burden of care (BoC) and factors associated with it among minority groups, such as Ultra-Orthodox Jews. The aims of this study were (1) to portray the profile of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish (UOJ) caregivers and their BoC;(2) to explore relations between care recipients' characteristics, care situations, characteristics of caregivers, and BoC. Methods: A total of 107 UOJ (66 women, 41 men) family caregivers were interviewed face to face in their homes, using valid and reliable measures. Results: Participants reported moderate BoC and high level of social support. Caregiver's self-rated health, caregiver's anxiety, and social support emerged as significant predictors of caregiver burden. Conclusions: Our findings might help social workers and other health professionals to better understand the unique characteristics of the UOJ community and to target caregivers with higher anxiety, lesser social support, and poorer self-rated health in order to reduce their caregiving burden. 

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Mutual support groups for family caregivers of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Italy: A pilot study

Family caregivers of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) live stressful lives in which they spend most of their time caring for their loved ones and managing difficult situations, thereby reducing the time spent in taking care of themselves. This situation may last several years. Previous literature has widely highlighted that this situation reduces caregivers’ quality of life and increases their psychological distress and risk of health problems, but there is a lack of studies that focus on psychological interventions for these situations. This qualitative study examined a pilot experience of two mutual support groups for family caregivers of people with ALS. The aim was to identify caregivers’ needs, the prominent aspects of their experience, and to understand whether and how this intervention strategy might help them. Six partners (four men and two women) and six adult children (five women and one man) participated in the groups, which were conducted in northern Italy. After the support groups finished, participants underwent semi‐structured interviews. The authors conducted a content analysis of the transcripts of the interviews and the 20 group sessions. The thematic areas identified were “caregiving,” “being the son/daughter of a person with ALS,” “being the partner of a person with ALS,” “group experience” and “group evaluation.” The caregiving experience was profoundly different depending on whether the caregiver was a son/daughter or a partner of a patient with ALS. Moreover, comparison with peers and mutual support helped participants to better cope with ALS and its consequences, to improve their care for their relatives and to overcome typical caregiver isolation. These results suggest the usefulness of involving communities in caregiver support in order to create new networks and activate personal and social resources for well‐being. 

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The experiences of Turkish families caring for individuals with Schizophrenia: A qualitative inquiry

Background: In Turkey, individuals with schizophrenia usually live with their families. Therefore, families are main caregivers and face psychological, financial and social problems. Aim: The aim of this study is to understand the personal burdens and coping strategies, and social support affecting the families that provide care to the individuals with schizophrenia. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 31 members of 12 families. Results: Four themes were formed: learning and accepting the disorder, caregiving, social dimensions and service dimensions. Families have a problem with accepting this order and caregiving affects their quality of life both financially and socially. As schizophrenia is one of the reasons for being isolated from community, families prefer hiding it. Although families are satisfied with community-based systems, they need long-term solution, training and financial aid. Conclusions: To reduce the burden, family therapies, education and psychological support should be provided for families, and job opportunities, long-term caregiving services and psychological support should be provided for individuals with schizophrenia. 

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Expressive social support buffers the impact of care-related work interruptions on caregivers’ depressive symptoms

Objective: To assess if expressive and instrumental social support from family and friends moderate the association of care-related work interruptions (e.g. leaving work for the older adult's doctor appointment) with depressive symptoms among working family caregivers of older adults. Methods: Data were from the Singapore Survey on Informal Caregiving (SSIC). A subsample of 662 dyads, each comprising an older care-recipient [home-dwelling Singaporean aged 75 and older receiving human assistance for at least one activity of daily living (ADL)] and his/her working family caregiver, was analysed. Caregiver depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. Care-related work interruptions were scaled through the Mokken scaling procedure. Expressive social support was assessed using a scale by Pearlin and co-workers. Instrumental social support was based on the hours of ADL help provided to the care-recipient by any family member or friend, on behalf of the primary caregiver. A linear regression model, with interaction terms, assessed expressive and instrumental social support as moderators of the association of care-related work interruptions with caregiver depressive symptoms. Results: More care-related work interruptions were associated with more caregiver depressive symptoms. And, this association was moderated by expressive, but not instrumental, social support. Conclusion: Our findings conform to previous qualitative work suggesting that caregivers’ mental health may not benefit from instrumental support, but from receiving expressive support instead. Initiatives for improving the care experience of working caregivers of older adults should focus on promoting expressive support from their friends and family. 

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Caring for Carers of People with Dementia: A Protocol for Harnessing Innovation Through Deploying Leading Edge Technologies to Enable Virtual Support Groups and Services

In rural Australia, knowledge and utilisation of support by informal carers is lacking. During the caregiving period, socioemotional support from family and friends plays an important role in sustaining caregiving activities. Post-care, these social networks facilitate adjustment to role change and dealing with grief. Developing and improving access to peer support to enable carers to effectively cope with the challenges of caring may positively influence their caring experience. The primary objective of this project is to examine the response of isolated rural carers for older people with dementia to a videoconference (VC) based peer support and information program. Will participation in the program improve self-efficacy, quality of life, and mental health? Secondary objectives are to develop a VC based peer support program for isolated rural carers for older people with dementia, using a co-design approach; and to assess the feasibility of VC technology for enhancing social support to family caregivers in their homes. This project will collaboratively co-design and evaluate a facilitated VC peer support and information program to carers of people with dementia within rural areas. Carers will be recruited through community health and care providers. Program development will use an information sharing approach to facilitate social interaction. A focus of the project is to use off-the-shelf technology which will be more accessible than specialised bespoke solutions that are currently popular in this area of research. A mixed methods repeated measures randomized wait list design will be used to evaluate the project. The primary outcomes are self-efficacy, quality of life, and mental health. Secondary outcomes are perceived social support and user satisfaction with the technology, and intention to continue VC interaction.

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Recognition of preclinical signs of dementia: A qualitative study exploring the experiences of family carers and professional care assistants

Aims and objectives: To identify preclinical signs of dementia by exploring the experiences of family caregivers and professional care assistants. Background: Dementia results in disability, emotional strain and financial loss for people with dementia, family members and nations. Informal identification of social and behavioural risk signifiers could facilitate timely interventions with potential to delay onset of serious disability. Design: A retrospective qualitative approach using a naturalistic interpretive design was used. Focus groups enabled in‐depth understanding of the participants’ experiences of life or work with people who subsequently developed dementia. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit family carers and professional carers who had cared for people who later developed dementia. The data from focus groups were fully transcribed and anonymised, and transcripts were analysed by two researchers. These researchers coded and analysed the transcripts independently; subsequently, overlapping and similar themes were identified and consensus reached on final themes. A third researcher was invited to review the analysis and ensure trustworthiness of the study findings. Results: Findings revealed that preclinical signs of dementia were identifiable in retrospect Participants’ accounts resulted in four themes, “Lowered Threshold of Frustration”, “Insight and Coping Strategies,” “Early signs of poor memory” and “Alarming Events.” Conclusions: Earlier recognition of preclinical signs of dementia would allow affected individuals to follow health promotion advice and plan for the future. Identification of social exclusion prior to diagnosis has implications for antistigma campaigns and development of “dementia‐friendly communities.” Relevance to clinical practice: Healthcare professionals could work with those at risk, facilitating lifestyle changes to postpone symptoms and advance planning for improved autonomy. Predementia should be viewed as a disability for which reasonable adjustments can be made at a community level, to enhance and extend emotional well‐being and social inclusion. [

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Factors associated with health-related quality of life among family caregivers of disabled older adults: a cross-sectional study from Beijing

Because of the aging population and the shortage of standardized institutional solutions for long-term care (LTC) in China, family caregivers in Beijing are increasingly called upon to provide home care for disabled older adults. Caregivers face a heavy care burden, and decreased physical and mental health (MH). This study aims to describe health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and to identify its predictors for Chinese family caregivers of disabled older adults.A total of 766 caregivers were recruited from 5 communities in the Dongcheng District of Beijing. Measures included the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), the Zarit Caregiver Burden Interview (ZBI) scales, and the Chinese Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS). Hierarchical multiple regression (HMR) analysis was used to identify the predictors.HMR analysis showed that each block of independent variables (demographic characteristics of disabled older adults, demographic characteristics of caregivers, caregiving context, and subjective caregiver burden) had contributed significantly to caregivers' physical and mental quality of life. Subjective caregiver burden explained the greatest amount of total variance in all MH subscales and the 2nd greatest amount of variance in most physical subscales. Therefore, subjective caregiver burden was the strongest predictor of HRQoL.Our findings suggest that a decrease in caregiver burden can improve caregivers' HRQoL, and additional social support is important in decreasing the impact of caregiving on HRQoL. Importantly, an LTC system should be established in China as soon as possible.

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"Anonymous Meltdown": Content Themes Emerging in a Nonfacilitated, Peer-only, Unstructured, Asynchronous Online Support Group for Family Caregivers

By providing care for loved ones in the home, family caregivers save millions of dollars for our overtaxed healthcare system. Support groups can lighten the psychological burden of caregiving. Nonprofessionally facilitated (or peer) online caregiver support groups can help meet a critical need in healthcare as a low-cost resource for caregivers. Online caregiver peer support groups can promote the health and well-being of family caregivers and, by extension, the patients themselves, resulting in cost-savings for society. A better understanding of these types of groups is of critical importance, given the unrelenting pace of demographic shift in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine content themes emerging from an unstructured, asynchronous online peer support group for family caregivers of people with chronic illness. Qualitative content analysis was used, yielding six themes: "experiencing the emotional toll," "need for catharsis/venting," "finding the silver linings," "seeking specific advice/problem solving," "realizing home is no longer a haven," and "adapting to the caregiver role." The themes reflect what emerged organically in an online support group that was not professionally facilitated or structured in any way. Heterogeneity in the relationship between caregivers and care recipients may negatively affect outcomes and requires further study.

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Building Carer Friendly Communities: Research report for Carers Week 2016

The Carers Week 2016 research report presents key findings on Carer Friendly Communities across five themes: community, health, employment, education and older carers. 

The research for this report was carried out as part of Carers UK annual State of Caring Survey. A total of 6,149 carers and former carers responded to Carers UK’s annual State of Caring Survey between March and April 2016.

Carers Week 2016 seeks to consolidate some of the positive work making communities more carer friendly that has already been achieved across the country. For some carers, who have very significant or stressful caring responsibilities, to have to battle with a community that does not understand can push them to breaking point. It is vital that we build communities that make carers’ live easier, not harder; and as more and more of us will become carers, this is relevant to everyone in today’s society.

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Caring for Caregivers: Establishing Resilience through Social Capital

Introduction: Even with international consensus that carers play a crucial role in supporting highneeds populations and contribute to formal health system sustainability, the academic and policy literature offers inconclusive evidence to guide how to support carers to ensure their resilience. Theory and Methods: This research used a convergent mixed model parallel design consisting of three main research phases. The theory of social capital was used to explore the extent to which combinations of interventions (self-directed community care, psychosocial supports, financial supports, skill development), may strengthen bonds between individuals (care recipients, carers, and front-line providers) and their communities (organizations, community agencies) thereby improving access to resources resulting in benefits for carers, families, and formal health systems. The use of social capital presents a novel conceptual advance in research on carer resilience, the relationship between networks and system sustainability, and the benefits that can derive from the multidimensional aspects of social capital. Results: The results suggest cultivating broader frameworks of support to identify, assess, and address the 'caregiver problem'. The findings substantiate both the social capital and resilience literature by identifying the role that network ties can play in improving access to resources. The results indicate that heterogeneous, mainly bridging and linking ties, might be more effective than bonding ties in improving a carer's resilience. Additionally, improved access to personal resources (a common focus for current policy interventions), is necessary, but on its own insufficient. Discussion: There has been increased recognition for supporting people and their carers. Yet, this focus remains largely at the individual level, and carer burden and burnout continues to be assessed and measured solely as a by-product of the complex (mainly medical) needs of the care recipient. Conclusions: This research identified the important role that healthcare systems plays in supporting an informal networks access to resources (personal, social, and societal) and resilience. Lessons Learned: The findings stress that the 'caregiver problem' is a complex phenomenon that requires a larger policy framework extending beyond one-off initiatives that are arbitrarily implemented. There is evidence to suggest the importance of conceptually understanding care networks from a broader perspective, acknowledging that carer resilience may be an individual-level phenomenon but can be supported or hindered by broader social- and societal-level impacts. Limitations: The sample of carers were identified through a 'gatekeeper' approach. Those who responded are likely to be a politically active population who have a potentially unique (yet context sensitive) perspective. As such, this research may have neglected to identify more isolated, marginalized carers who may have perceived different or additional factors as crucial to support their resilience. Suggestions for future research: For the first time in 2015, persons aged 65+ exceeded the number of persons 0-14 in Ontario, Canada. There is value in engaging in comparative work with regions who have already experienced a precipitous decline in social networks to identify lessons learned as it relates to engaging beyond traditional avenues of carers - to explore the role of networks of care.

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Self-assessment of independence in older people: First results from an open-access website for senior citizens and caregivers in France

Background: E-health initiatives on the Internet can be used to provide support to people with chronic diseases and to their caregivers. In 2014/2015, we created a free website called jesuisautonome.fr where older people, or their carers on their behalf, can assess their independence in daily living by filling out a simple questionnaire. Objectives: To evaluate the interest of the public in websites of this kind, by analysing home care plans obtained via the self-assessment questionnaire. We also describe patterns of use and visitor behaviour. Method: Over a period of 6 months, we analysed data from the website in terms of the basic characteristics of the user; the number of questionnaires completed; the main types of needs in terms of home support; and data from Google Analytics about the number of visitors, user behaviour and behaviour flow. Results: During the 6-month study period, 439 visitors to the site either viewed, part-completed or fully completed the questionnaire. A total of 190 users completed the questionnaire. Seventy-one per cent of the completed questionnaires were from family caregivers, and 29% were from senior citizens. The mean age of those receiving care was 78 ± 10.46 years. Their main needs were for domiciliary care (29.3%). Data from Google Analytics showed about 420 visits per month. Approximately 7.5% completed a questionnaire, approximately 5.3% downloaded a home care plan and there was a bounce rate of about 62%. Conclusion: First results from this website tend to endorse its use as a means of making practical solutions available to caregivers and older people.

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Spinal cord injury and long-term carers: Perceptions of formal and informal support

The grounded theory study from which this paper is drawn explored the experiences of partners and other long-term family carers living with, and supporting, a person with a spinal cord injury over long periods of time. Eleven (11) female carers with between eight and 33 years of living with, and supporting, a family member with a spinal cord injury were purposively recruited to the study. The study identified a number of key issues for long-term carers in this context. In this paper, the focus is on the extent to which longterm family carers perceived they were supported by health and social services. Findings revealed a significant need for practical and lifestyle assistance, including formal respite from familial and/or caregiving responsibilities when needed. Participants also sought out a range of health and social care services to address the loneliness, isolation, grief and loss, all of which can be involved in this experience. Participants revealed that their caregiver needs are usually not recognised by health service staff, and most expressed a desire for more recognition from health professionals for the important role they play in supporting the independence of the person in their care. The study also identified that participants tended to be more reliant on informal networks of support for practical assistance and other support. Findings on the experience, perceptions and support needs of family carers of people with lifelong disability provide valuable information of great relevance to rehabilitation practice.

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Cancer Communication on Social Media: Examining How Cancer Caregivers Use Facebook for Cancer-Related Communication

Background: Americans are increasingly using social media (such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter) for health-related communication. Much of the previous research on social media and health communication has focused on Facebook groups related to a specific disease or Facebook pages related to an advocacy organization. Less is known about how people communicate about cancer on personal Facebook pages.; Objective: In this study, we expand upon previous research by examining how cancer caregivers use personal Facebook pages for cancer-related communication.; Methods: We examined themes in cancer-related exchanges through a content analysis of 12 months of data from 18 publically available Facebook pages hosted by parents of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (15 852 total posts).; Results: Six themes emerged: (1) documenting the cancer journey, (2) sharing emotional strain associated with caregiving, (3) promoting awareness and advocacy about pediatric cancer, (4) fundraising, (5) mobilizing support, and (6) expressing gratitude for support.; Conclusions: Building upon previous research documenting the increasing use of social media for health-related communication and support, our findings show that personal Facebook pages offer a platform for cancer caregivers to share their cancer-related experiences, promote advocacy and awareness, and mobilize social support.; Implications For Practice: Providers must recognize the importance of social media as a vehicle for support and communication for families of children with cancer. Nurses should educate parents on how to appraise information obtained through Facebook using evidence-based guidelines. Providers can encourage caregivers to use Facebook as a tool for communication, information, and support

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The use of social healthcare resources and informal care characteristics care of immobilised homecare patients

Objective: To describe the use of social healthcare resources by immobilised patients and informal care characteristics and the level/degree of satisfaction with home care services.

Method: Descriptive observational study carried out in primary care. The target group were 369 randomly selected immobilised home care patients in the area of Albacete, Spain. The variables included were: socio-demographic data of the patient and carer; the use of social healthcare resources; perceived social support (DUKE-UNK questionnaire); family function (APGAR questionnaire); nursing care and home care services satisfaction (SATISFAD 10 questionnaire).

Results: 66.9% of immobilised homecare patients have high dependency and 18.6% have bedsores. The majority of informal carers are women (83.1%) with an average of 57.7 years of age (DE 15.1). The average intensity of care is 15.7 hours per day (DE 8.5) and the average length of care is 5 years. The average number of visits from nurses per month is 2.1 (DE 2.1), although this measurement is higher in patients with bedsores or multiple diseases. The most widely used social health care resources are telephone care (34.2%) and home care (20.3%), for which 65.6% of immobilised homecare patients receive dependency benefits. Overall satisfaction with home care is of a high degree.

Conclusion: Musculoskeletal disorders is the main reason for immobilisation in home care patients. Most informal carers are older women. The length and intensity of care is high and the main support comes from healthcare professionals. Patients make limited use of social healthcare resources.

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Who's there and who cares: age as an indicator of social support networks for caregivers among people living with motor neurone disease

This paper explores the social support networks available to the informal carers of people living with motor neurone disease (MND). An ethnographic case study was undertaken using ecomapping, observation and conversational interviews to collect data from 18 primary carers of people living with MND. Interviews took place in participants’ homes in metropolitan, regional and rural locations. Participants discussed the content of their support network and drew lines between individuals to indicate the type and strength of relationship. Changes to the network were depicted on ecomaps during subsequent interviews. While health policy-makers assume that healthy social capital exists in Australian communities and that social cohesion will ensure active and available support networks in times of illness or disability, data from this exploratory study indicated that this was not consistently the case. Support networks varied in size and composition; however, age was identified as a discriminator of the availability and consistency of support. People in older age groups identified more diverse but consistent support systems while people in younger age groups reported more fluctuations in the strength of relationships and declines in support as caregiving became more demanding. Individual assessment of support networks at regular intervals in the caregiving trajectory is vital for all carers. However carers in younger age groups may need specific support to manage the psychological crises that occur and more access to paid care. Older carers may need consistent support to handle more of the instrumental aspects of care and assistance to mobilise their support networks. Community workers should be alert to the possible need for crisis intervention when tensions in relationships threaten carers’ ability to provide effective care.

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Care-giver network transformations: the need for an integrated perspective

This paper reviews recent research on care-giver networks and the concepts and approach that they apply, with particular reference to the support networks of the primary care-givers of older people with Alzheimer's disease. It makes the case for an integrated approach to the explanation of the various combinations of formal and informal support that are found. It argues that more attention needs to be given to transformations in care-giver networks over time, and that this will require more development of both theoretical perspectives and analytical tools. The stages of a care-giver's commitment towards an elderly relative are examined, to understand the associations between changes in the ailing person's needs, the structure of the support network and the primary care-giver's roles. This approach makes useful contributions to the understanding of the development, maintenance and dissolution of supportive ties. Following the work of Pescosolido (1991), we propose an integrated perspective that combines the ‘care-giver career’ approach and the methods of ‘social network’ analysis.

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Association between cultural factors and the caregiving burden for Chinese spousal caregivers of frail elderly in Hong Kong

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between cultural factors and the caregiving burden of Chinese spousal caregivers who provided care to their frail partners.

Method: A sample consisting of 102 Chinese caregivers for frail elderly spouses was recruited from home care services across various districts in Hong Kong. Structured interviews were conducted with the participants in their homes, measuring demographics, the functional status of the spouse, the degree of assistance required in daily care, perceived health, the caregiver's orientation to traditional Chinese family values, social support, coping, and caregiver burden.

Results: Findings of regression analysis indicated that gender, activities of daily living (ADL) status, orientation to traditional Chinese family values, passive coping, and marital satisfaction associated with caregiver burden. Being female, having lower functioning in ADL or a strong orientation toward traditional Chinese family values, employing the strategies of passive coping more frequent, or experiencing a low degree of marital satisfaction were associated with high levels of caregiver burden.

Conclusion: These findings provided a basis for developing appropriate interventions to minimize the caregiver burden of spousal family caregivers.

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Suicidal ideation in family carers of people with dementia: a pilot study

Objective: Two small studies have suggested that family carers of people with dementia may be a high-risk group for suicide. The objective of this study was to further explore the rate of suicidal ideation in a large sample of carers and identify psychosocial risk and protective factors.

Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 566 family carers. The survey included measures of suicidality, self-efficacy, physical health, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, optimism, burden, coping strategies, and social support.

Results: Sixteen percent of carers had contemplated suicide more than once in the previous year. There were univariate differences between suicidal and non-suicidal carers on self-efficacy, social support, coping, burden, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, optimism, reasons for living, and symptoms of dementia, as well as age and income management. In a multivariate model, age, depression, and reasons for living predicted suicidal ideation. In tests for mediation, satisfaction with social support and dysfunctional coping had indirect effects on suicidal ideation via depression.

Conclusion: Family carers of people with dementia have high rates of suicidal ideation, with depression a risk factor and increasing age and reasons for living as protective factors. Depression and reasons for living should be targeted in interventions to reduce suicide risk in dementia carers.

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Trends in health outcomes for family caregivers of hip-fractured elders during the first 12 months after discharge

Aim.  This article reports on trends in health outcomes for family caregivers of hip-fractured patients and the effects of social support on these outcomes.

Background.  Little is known about the impact of caregiving on the health outcomes of family caregivers of patients with hip fracture.

Method.  For this prospective, correlational study, data were collected from 135 family caregivers of hip-fractured elders (2001–2005). Data on health-related quality of life and social support were collected from family caregivers at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after discharge of the older hip-fractured patient.

Findings.  During the 12 months after the patients’ discharge, family caregivers’ scores improved significantly in role performance-related scales, including bodily pain, social function, role limitations due to emotional problems and role limitations due to physical problems. However, caregivers’ scores for general health and mental health were significantly lower at 12 months [59·91 (sd = 24·54) and 65·91 (sd = 14·36) respectively] than at 1 month after discharge [64·35 (sd = 23·29) and 67·94 (sd = 18·47) respectively]. The trends for most subscale scores for health-related quality of life were positively related to perceived availability of social support.

Conclusions.  Caring for a hip-fractured older family member over a sustained period may enhance family caregivers’ role performance, but have a negative impact on their perceived general health and mental health. These results suggest that home care nurses should develop interventions early after discharge to assess and improve family caregivers’ health perception, mental health and social support.

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The effect of caregiving on women in families with Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy

Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy (DBMD) is a disorder of progressive muscle weakness that causes an increasing need for assistance with activities of daily living. Our objective was to assess the psychosocial health and contributing factors among female caregivers in families with DBMD. We conducted a survey of adult women among families with DBMD in the United States (US) from June 2006 through January 2007, collecting data related to the care recipient, perception of caregiving demands, personal factors, and socio-ecologic factors. Life satisfaction, stress, and distress were assessed as outcomes. Existing validated instruments were used when available. We received responses from 1238 women who were caring for someone with DBMD, 24.2% of whom were caring for two or more people with DBMD. Caregivers were more likely to be married/cohabitating than women in the general US population, and a high level of resiliency was reported by 89.3% of caregivers. However, the rate of serious psychological distress was significantly higher among caregivers than among the general population. Likewise, 46.4% reported a high level of stress, and only 61.7% reported that they were satisfied with their life. A high level of caregiving demands based on the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) was reported by 50.4% of caregivers. The post-ambulatory phase of DBMD was associated with decreased social support and increased ZBI scores. In multivariate logistic regression modelling, life satisfaction was dependent on high social support, high resiliency, high income, and form of DBMD. Distress and high stress were predicted by low resiliency, low social support, and low income. Employment outside of the home was also a predictor of high stress. Interventions focused on resiliency and social support are likely to improve the quality of life of DBMD caregivers, and perhaps caregivers of children with other disabilities or special health care needs as well.

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Respite care as a community care service: factors associated with the effects on family carers of adults with intellectual disability in Taiwan

Background This study examines the effects and associated factors of respite care, which was legislated as a community service for adults with an intellectual disability (ID) in Taiwan in 1997.

Method A total of 116 family carers who live with an adult with ID and have utilised the respite care program were surveyed using standardised measures.

Results The results suggest that the most notable effects of respite care include improvement in the carers' social support and life satisfaction, and relief of psychological stress and overall burden of care. The factors associated with these effects include the way the participants have used the respite care and the users' individual characteristics.

Conclusions How families used the respite care, whether the carers practised a religion, and where the families resided, were the most significant factors in determining the effectiveness of the respite. Suggestions are made for making access to information about the program more widely available, and for extending the availability and duration of the service.

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Caring for a person in advanced illness and suffering from breathlessness at home: threats and resources

Little is known about the factors that mediate the caregiving experience of informal carers at home, which could inform about ways of supporting them in their caregiving role. Our objective was to investigate the caring experience of carers for patients with an advanced progressive illness (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], heart failure, cancer, or motor neuron diseases [MND]), who suffer from breathlessness.

A purposive sample of 15 carers was selected. They were recruited via the patients they cared for (who suffered from COPD, cancer, MND, or heart failure) from the hospital and the community. Data were collected through semistructured, in-depth interviews. All were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis used a Grounded Theory approach and NVivo software facilitated the management and analysis of the data.

Several key issues affected caring in a positive or a negative way. The threats to caring were uncertainty, carers' own health problems, an imploded world, negative reactions from outside, person loss, and acute exacerbations. Resources that carers drew on were acceptance, self-care, availability of support, feeling that caring is a shared responsibility with the patient, and “getting on with” caring in case of emergencies. Breathlessness was particularly challenging, and carers did not have any strategies to relieve the symptom. They were ill prepared for acute exacerbations.

Carers need to be included in opportunities for support provision in advanced illness. Negotiated involvement of a health professional could buffer the heavy responsibilities related to home care. They could provide problem-solving skills and build on the resources that carers draw on in response to what they experience as most threatening to their caring role.

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The Oxford Friends and Family Empowerment (OFAFE) service: support and education for those affected by friends or family with personality disorder

The Oxford Friends and Family Empowerment (OFAFE) service is a carer support service that originated in a collaboration between the Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service and the national mental health charity Rethink. OFAFE provides support and education for adults supporting an individual with a personality disorder. This paper describes the background and operation of the OFAFE service, along with the early stages of the development of a similar service for young carers, the Young Friends and Family Empowerment (YFAFE) service.

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The influence of social support on caregiver coping

Investigations into the act of proving care to a dementing family member typically approach the phenomenon from a stress/burden paradigm. Many studies have sought to highlight the relationship between of a range of dementia care factors (such as illness duration, patient symptoms/characteristics, service provision, etc.) and the experience of caregiver stress. Caregiving a spouse with dementing illness is complex and multidimensional (Gubrium, 1995) it is therefore not surprising that the vast majority of stressor-based approaches, though very revealing, have been largely equivocal in their findings. The relationship between the social support of family and friends and caregiver coping is no exception and therefore remains essentially unclear particularly in terms of its contribution in ameliorating stress (Thompson et al, 1993). Caregiver studies do however consistently highlight the pathogenic qualities of coping with an experience in which 'families are faced with often overwhelming and uncontrollable stress than can take a toll on their emotional health and well-being' (Zarit et al, 1998; Bourgeois et al, 1996). This article, emanating from a PhD study into caregiver coping (Upton, 2001), illuminates the study of caregiving from a different perspective. It highlights and describes how phenomenological exploration deepens our understanding of how and why spouse caregivers cope and uses the influence of social support as an exemplar of the value and need for such exploration both for its own sake and also to inform service providers. The results revealed a universal phenomenon of psycho-physical distancing by family and friends affecting all forty-six spouse caregivers included in this study. The implications of these finding are discussed along with what constituted social support for these carers. Other phenomenological insights are revealed, not least how the individual caregiver's relationship to time, space and their own identity shaped their caregiving experiences.

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Exploring the other side of cancer care: the informal caregiver

Objectives: To identify the caregiver outcomes among relatives caring for patients with cancer and to examine the patient and family caregiver variables that predicted for caregiver burden and depression.

Methods: One hundred and thirty caregivers completed the Greek versions of the Burden Interview (BI), the Center of Epidemiology – Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire. Principal component analysis was performed to examine the underlying dimensions of caregiver outcome measures. One-way ANOVA and independent sample t-tests were used to test for differences in burden and depression in relation to demographic variables of interest. One-way ANOVA was used for examining differences in coping strategies.

Findings: One-way ANOVA showed that there are significant differences among the various educational levels (p<0.001) and the income (p<0.005) of the caregiver in terms of overall burden. 66.4% of caregivers had a depression above the usual cutoff point for depression. An independent samples t-test for possible gender differences, showed that there is a significant difference between males and females (p=0.29). In regression analysis it was found that only caregiver's income and patient's age are statistically significant in predicting burden and depression. When considering high-burdened caregivers results showed that there are significant differences in the use of coping strategies (p<0.001).

Conclusions:Caregivers reported high levels of burden and depression. These outcomes of caregiving are related to several variables, but the caregiver's income and patient's age are predictive. Intervention strategies are needed to the vulnerable caregivers to help reduce burden and depression associated with caregiving.

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Stressors and common mental disorder in informal carers – An analysis of the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007

This study investigates potential explanations of the association between caring and common mental disorder, using the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007. We examined whether carers are more exposed to other stressors additional to caring – such as domestic violence and debt – and if so whether this explains their elevated rates of mental disorder. We analysed differences between carers and non-carers in common mental disorders (CMD), suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, recent stressors, social support, and social participation. We used multivariate models to investigate whether differences between carers and non-carers in identifiable stressors and supports explained the association between caring and CMD, as measured by the revised Clinical Interview Schedule.

The prevalence of CMD (OR = 1.64 95% CI 1.37–1.97), suicidal thoughts in the last week (OR = 2.71 95% CI 1.31–5.62) and fatigue (OR = 1.33 95% CI 1.14–1.54) was increased in carers. However, caring remained independently associated with CMD (OR = 1.58 1.30–1.91) after adjustment for other stressors and social support. Thus caring itself is associated with increased risk of CMD that is not explained by other identified social stressors. Carers should be recognized as being at increased risk of CMD independent of the other life stressors they have to deal with. Interventions aimed at a direct reduction of the stressfulness of caring are indicated. However, carers also reported higher rates of debt problems and domestic violence and perceived social support was slightly lower in carers than in non-carers. So carers are also more likely to experience stressors other than caring and it is likely that they will need support not only aimed at their caring role, but also at other aspects of their lives.

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Primary caregivers of cancer patients in the palliative phase: a path analysis of variables influencing their burden

Research has shown that several variables influence the burden of primary caregivers of cancer patients staying at home in the palliative phase, but the associations between these variables have hardly been explored. The aim of this study was to examine the associations of theory-driven variables with the caregivers’ burden by means of path analysis. The sample consisted of 96 caregivers of cancer patients in the palliative phase staying at home recruited from a hospital trust in Norway. The dimensions of burden from the Caregiver Reaction Assessment, namely self esteem, lack of family support, impact on finances, and impact on daily schedule, were used as the dependent variable. The following independent variables were tested in the models: the patients’ levels of pain, fatigue, and nausea; and the caregivers’ physical quality of life, anxiety and depression, and social support.

The Partial Least Squares approach to structural equation modelling was used for the path analysis. Model 1 shows the direct associations between the independent variables and the dependent variable, explaining 16% of the variance in caregiver burden. Model 1 supports the finding that only caregivers’ depression has a direct significant association with caregiver burden, and shows further that the effects of the other independent variables on burden are mediated through depression. In Model 2, anxiety and depression are mediating factors between three other independent variables and caregiver burden, and 12% of the variance is explained. Model 2 supports none of the independent variables as antecedents of burden. Testing of the models suggested that caregivers’ depression was the main factor associated with caregiver burden, but also an important mediator of indirect associations of indirect associations of caregivers’ anxiety and physical health.

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Effects of stroke on informal carers

Informal carers have a pivotal role in caring for patients who have had a stroke. Research has shown that informal carers have unmet information, psychological and social needs. There is a lack of research about how informal carers in Northern Ireland manage the role of caring for a patient who has experienced stroke, and what kind of support they need and receive. This literature review explores the experiences of informal carers providing stroke care in the home. The issues highlighted in the article are relevant worldwide, because the incidence of stroke is increasing in developed and developing countries.

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Group support during caring and post-caring: the role of carers groups

This article discusses the findings about the role of face-to-face carers groups which emerged from a qualitative, interpretive study of 37 former carers' experiences in the UK. The study was informed by grounded theory and semi-structured in-depth interviews were used as the main method of data collection. The advantages and disadvantages of carers groups during caring and post-caring that were identified are presented. These include the nature of the support they provided for their members, their limitations and ways in which they can be developed in order to meet the needs of carers and former carers. The concepts of social integration and social support are used to supplement the interviewees' explanations of the beneficial effects of carers groups. Following the discussions, suggestions are made about further research into increasing the effectiveness of carers groups' in meeting the needs of those who are caring and their previously unrecognized role in meeting post-caring needs.

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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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The relationships between depression and other outcomes of chronic illness caregiving

Background: Many caregivers with chronically ill relatives suffer from depression. However, the relationship of depression to other outcomes of chronic caregiving remains unclear. This study tested a hypothesized model which proposed that hours of care, stressful life events, social support, age and gender would predict caregivers' outcomes through perceived caregiver stress. Depression was expected to mediate the relationship between perceived stress and outcomes of chronic caregiving (physical function, self-esteem, and marital satisfaction).

Methods: The sample for this secondary data analysis consisted of 236 and 271 subjects from the Americans' Changing Lives, Wave 1, 1986, and Wave 2, 1989, data sets. Measures were constructed from the original study. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized model, and an exploratory structural modeling method, specification search, was used to develop a data-derived model. Cross-validation was used to verify the paths among variables.

Results: Hours of care, age, and gender predicted caregivers' outcomes directly or through perceived caregiver stress (p < .01). Depression mediated the relationship between perceived stress and psychological outcomes and explained 40% and 11% of the variance in self-esteem and marital satisfaction, respectively.

Conclusion: Depression predicted psychological outcomes. Whether depression predicts physical health outcomes needs to be further explored.

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A Qualitative Investigation of Health Care Professionals', Patients' and Partners' Views on Psychosocial Issues and Related Interventions for Couples Coping with Cancer

Introduction: There is growing evidence that cancer affects couples as an interdependent system and that couple-based psychosocial interventions are efficacious in reducing distress and improving coping skills. However, adoption of a couples-focused approach into cancer care is limited. Previous research has shown that patients and partners hold differing views from health care professionals (HCPs) regarding their psychosocial needs, and HCPs from different disciplines also hold divergent views regarding couples’ psychosocial needs. This study aimed to explore the perspectives of HCPs and couples on the provision of couple-focused psychosocial care in routine cancer services.

Methods: A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews was undertaken with 20 HCPs (medical oncologists, nurses, psycho-oncology professionals) and 20 couples where one member had been diagnosed with cancer (breast, prostate, head/neck, bowel, multiple myeloma). Interviews were analysed using the framework approach.

Results: Three core themes were identified: “How Do Couples Cope with Cancer?” emphasised the positive and negative coping strategies used by couples, and highlighted that partners perceived a lack of engagement by HCPs. “What Is Couple-focused Psychosocial Care for People with Cancer?” described varying perspectives regarding the value of couple-focused psychosocial care and variation in the types of support couples need among HCPs and couples. Whereas most couples did not perceive a need for specialist couple-focused support and interventions, most HCPs felt couple-focused psychosocial care was necessary. “How Can Couple-Focused Psychosocial Care be Improved?” described couples’ view of a need for better provision of information, and the importance of their relationship with oncology clinicians. HCPs identified a lack of confidence in responding to the emotional needs of couples, and barriers to providing psychosocial care, including challenges identifying distress (through screening) and referring distressed individuals/couples for specialist assessment.

Conclusions: The three core themes revealed discrepancies about couple-focused psychosocial care between HCPs and couples, and HCPs from different professional backgrounds, and several barriers to the provision of psychosocial care for couples. Despite HCPs and couples acknowledging that a couple-focused approach to psycho-social support was potentially beneficial, the majority of couples did not feel they needed specific couple-focused interventions. These issues and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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Perceptions of Giving Support and Depressive Symptoms in Late Life

Purpose of the Study: Research shows that parents benefit psychologically from generativity—giving and caring for the next generation—but older adults’ perceptions on giving support to their children are rarely if ever explored in these studies. The current study examines the association between the support that aging parents give to one of their middle-aged offspring, their perception of this support as rewarding or stressful, and their levels of depressive symptoms.

Design and Methods: The sample draws from The Family Exchanges Study and consisted of 337 older parents (mean age: 76) who were drawn from a larger study of middle-aged adults (i.e., target participants). Older parents reported tangible and nontangible forms of support given to the target middle-aged child and the extent to which they viewed providing such support as stressful and/or rewarding.

Results: We found significant interactions between tangible support and feelings of reward and between nontangible support and feelings of stress in explaining parental depressive symptoms. Parents who found giving support to be highly rewarding had lower levels of depressive symptoms when giving high amounts of tangible support. Conversely, parents who view giving support to be highly stressful had higher levels of depressive symptoms when they gave low amounts of nontangible support.

Implications: Findings suggest older parents’ perceptions of supporting their offspring may condition how generativity affects their mental health.

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Informal stroke caregivers' self-appraised problem-solving abilities as a predictor of well-being and perceived social support

Aim.  To describe the relationship between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and psychological distress, burden and perceived social support in informal, family stroke caregivers.

Background.  Previous research suggests that self-appraised problem-solving abilities play a significant role in the well-being of family caregivers of patients with chronic illness. However, little is known about its role in caregivers of stroke survivors.

Design.  Prospective correlational study.

Methods.  One week before discharge, 103 family caregivers of survivors of a first stroke were assessed for their perceived problem-solving abilities, social support, anxiety, depression and physical well-being. At three months postdischarge, 85 of these caregivers (83% retention) were reassessed on the same measures. In addition, their levels of burden and perceived difficulties were also measured.

Results.  Using multiple regression, overall self-appraised problem-solving abilities and its subscale ‘confidence in problem-solving’ at one week before discharge were significant predictors of caregiver perceived social support (R2 = 29%) and perceived physical well-being (R2 = 42%) at three months postdischarge. Other relationships were non-significant.

Conclusions.  Caregivers’ perceived social support and physical well-being were significantly predicted by confidence in problem-solving.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This study is timely given the challenges facing health systems in Hong Kong to effectively manage chronic illness through family-centred care. The significant relationships between caregiver self-appraised problem-solving, perceived social support and well-being suggest that interventions maximising caregiver confidence in problem-solving might be valuable in supporting family caregivers of stroke survivors. Nurses working with families caring for stroke survivors both close to discharge and in the early transition stages back at home may be in an ideal position to offer this support.

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Coffee, cakes and mutual support

Norwich: a ‘coffee morning’ initiative aimed to give people with dementia and carers the ordinary social opportunities they were missing. It has succeeded and also brought many further benefits, as Judith Farmer explains

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Coping strategies of families in HIV/AIDS care: some exploratory data from two developmental contexts

Caring for a family member with HIV/AIDS presents multiple challenges that strain a family's physical, economic and emotional resources. Family carers provide physical care and financial support and deal with changes in family relationships and roles, often with little support from outside of the family. Carers in developing countries face even greater challenges, due to lack of medical and support services, poverty and widespread discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS. Little is known about how family carers cope with these challenges or about the ways that development impacts on the process of coping. The current study explored coping strategies used by family carers in two contexts, Kerala, India and Scotland, UK. As part of a larger study, 28 family carers of persons living with HIV/AIDS were interviewed −23 in Kerala and 5 in Scotland. A modified version of the Ways of Coping scale was used to assess coping strategies. Responses were compared on the total number of coping responses used as well as on selected subscales of the WOC. Differences were assessed using the Mann-Whitney U-test. The two cohorts differed significantly in terms of the coping strategies used. The carers from Scotland used a larger number of different coping strategies and scored higher on measures of problem focused coping, positive reappraisal, seeking social support, self-controlling and distancing/detachment. Respondents from Kerala scored higher on a measure of self-blame. Results are discussed in terms of the impact of community resources on coping strategies.

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Effects of case management in community aged care on client and carer outcomes : a systematic review of randomized trials and comparative observational studies

Background: Case management has been applied in community aged care to meet frail older people’s holistic needs and promote cost-effectiveness. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effects of case management in community aged care on client and carer outcomes.

Methods: We searched Web of Science, Scopus, Medline, CINAHL (EBSCO) and PsycINFO (CSA) from inception to 2011 July. Inclusion criteria were: no restriction on date, English language, community-dwelling older people and/or carers, case management in community aged care, published in refereed journals, randomized control trials (RCTs) or comparative observational studies, examining client or carer outcomes. Quality of studies was assessed by using such indicators as quality control, randomization, comparability, follow-up rate, dropout, blinding assessors, and intention-to-treat analysis. Two reviewers independently screened potentially relevant studies, extracted information and assessed study quality. A narrative summary of findings were presented.

Results: Ten RCTs and five comparative observational studies were identified. One RCT was rated high quality. Client outcomes included mortality (7 studies), physical or cognitive functioning (6 studies), medical conditions (2 studies), behavioral problems (2 studies) , unmet service needs (3 studies), psychological health or well-being (7 studies) , and satisfaction with care (4 studies), while carer outcomes included stress or burden (6 studies), satisfaction with care (2 studies), psychological health or well-being (5 studies), and social consequences (such as social support and relationships with clients) (2 studies). Five of the seven studies reported that case management in community aged care interventions significantly improved psychological health or well-being in the intervention group, while all the three studies consistently reported fewer unmet service needs among the intervention participants. In contrast, available studies reported mixed results regarding client physical or cognitive functioning and carer stress or burden. There was also limited evidence indicating significant effects of the interventions on the other client and carer outcomes as described above.

Conclusions: Available evidence showed that case management in community aged care can improve client psychological health or well-being and unmet service needs. Future studies should investigate what specific components of case management are crucial in improving clients and their carers’ outcomes.

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Good practice in European integration: Lessons from the AIDA Project

Introduction: Interest in the integration of health and social care services has grown in recent years amongst all Governments in Europe in light of the increasing numbers of older people and those affected by chronic illnesses. This poster offers a review of the “Album of 10 Good Practices of integration at European level” carried out within the Advancing Integration for a Dignified Ageing (AIDA)- Project (www.projectaida.eu/). This was funded by EU Progress Program with the purpose of highlighting common aspects of effectiveness. Methods: The AIDA Project Consortium developed a criteria for selection of good practices on the basis of most relevant conceptual frameworks on integrated health and social care for older people. 28 initiatives were selected by an Advisory Board (AB) composed by five international experts in the field. The provider/ coordinator of each selected initiative (or a lead academic with an interest in the project) has provided an overview of the project, the legal and social context in which it was set, enablers and barriers, and evaluation of impact. The case-studies were then analysed to highlight success factors and impact on users, service providers and overall health and social care systems. Results:description of the case-studies

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A qualitative study of stroke patients' and carers' perceptions of the stroke family support organizer service

Objective: To investigate stroke patients’ and carers’ perceptions of the family support organizer (FSO) service in order to highlight its value for potential purchasers and to help shed light on findings from randomized controlled trials.

Design and subjects: Twenty semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a sub sample of stroke patients and their primary informal carers after completion of nine-month outcome assessments as part of a randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Community stroke services in North Nottinghamshire, UK.

Results: Interviewees who received the service reported that the presence of an FSO was valuable in many respects, including helping to claim benefits, as a source of information on stroke, and providing continuity between stroke services. Emotional support was only described by a few. Interviewees who did not receive the service described feelings of isolation and being let down by other stroke services after discharge. They also reported problems accessing information. Help needed to address the practical problems after stroke was commonly reported. For those who did not receive the FSO service, access to support appeared to be found through other channels.

Conclusion: The FSO service appeared to be an information service. In order to evaluate community stroke services, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative outcome measures are necessary.

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Social support in the case of illness: intergenerational solidarity

Background: Social support received through different forms of help from members of one's social network is an important element of coping with illness. In the case of illness, family members are the main providers of support, both within the same generation, but also, and increasingly so, between generations. This informal social support is related to socio-economic conditions of individuals: it is more common in lower economic and educational groups. Members of the middle generation, who help both the young and the old, are the main support providers. Also, female gender is the most significant predictor of the care burden. Withdrawing role of the welfare state in the postmodern society means shifting more responsibilities for care from the formal to informal sector. The aim of our study was to look into the characteristics of intergenerational support in illness in Slovenia. Methods: A cross-sectional study on personal support networks of the residents of Slovenia, sample size 5013, data collection by computerassisted telephone interviews, respondents above 18 years of age. Multiple Classification Analysis (MCA) was used for data analysis to find out how much the dependent variable deviated from the mean as a result of a given respondent characteristic while controlling for the effects of all others. Results: The analysis showed the proportion of respondents’ social network that would provide support in the case of illness and could be defined as intergenerational network. Intergenerational ties represent about 35 % of the whole support netork in illness. The most frequent receivers are the youngest group of respondents (18–29), followed by the 60+ age group. Women receive more help than men, especially those who are widows, living alone or living in multigenerational households. Intergenerational support is more frequent among the less educated respondents. Discussion: Our results comply with the findings in the literature, and are indicating that the actual trends in the changing structure and composition of the family, combined with less support from institutional health- and social care, is increasing the care burden of the informal carers within families. Conclussions: Health and social care policy and practice need awarness of the contextual factors of health care outcomes, taking into consideration social support networks’ functions.

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Evaluation of DEM-DISC, customized e-advice on health and social support services for informal carers and case managers of people with dementia; a cluster randomized trial

Few personalized e-interventions are available for informal and professional caregivers of people with dementia. The DEMentia Digital Interactive Social Chart (DEM-DISC) is an ICT tool to support customized disease management in dementia. The aim of this study was to improve and evaluate DEM-DISC, its user-friendliness and usefulness and to investigate the future implementation.

A cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) design was used with measurements at baseline, 6 and 12 months. A total of 73 informal caregivers of people with dementia, supported by 19 randomized case managers participated in the study. In the intervention group, both carers (n = 41) and case managers (n = 13) could access DEM-DISC during twelve months. The control group, 32 carers and 14 case managers, had no access to DEM-DISC. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten stakeholders.

Informal caregivers who used DEM-DISC for twelve months reported an increased sense of competence than controls. A subgroup of users who frequently accessed DEM-DISC reported more met needs after six months than controls. Overall informal caregivers and case managers judged DEM-DISC as easy to learn and user-friendly.

This study demonstrates that using DEM-DISC had a positive effect on the sense of competence and experienced (met) needs of informal carers. This shows the importance of user-friendly ICT solutions to assist carers in finding appropriate care services tailored to their specific situation and needs. For further implementation of DEM-DISC methods to keep the information updated is of great importance.

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Change and Adaptation in Families with Young Carers

Using grounded theory methodology, members of nine families with 'young carers' were interviewed to explore their experiences of caring. A dynamic theory of change and adaptation emerged in relation to changes in who cares within families, in external support and in the attitudes of young carers towards caring. Adaptations included becoming used to the way life is, knowing how to care, balancing and trading off, rewarding care, and anticipating future adaptations. A model has been developed to offer an explanation of factors which influence young caring in families. These include family expectations about caring; who is available to care; the willingness and capability of young carers to help; and the degree of choice or obligation they experience. Formal and informal support services from outside the family, and environmental adaptations, can reduce the amount of family caregiving required, increase choice and contribute to balancing life for carers. 

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Supporting informal caregivers of people with advanced cancer: a literature review

Informal carers are people who provide care without a specific professional role. They provide diverse caregiving supports including disease-related problems, side effects of treatment and psychosocial impacts. This paper reports on a comprehensive review of caregiving literature, focusing specifically on cancer caregivers. The paper presents five observations drawn from the literature in order to make recommendations about how caregivers of people with advanced cancer can best be supported. The observations are: 1) caregivers are a heterogeneous group; 2) they have unique needs that differ to the patient; 3) their role includes more than attending to physical caregiving tasks; 4) they may feel unable to take a break from the role and 5) they need their own support which may be beneficial to their capacity to continue in the caregiving role. Recommendations for how health professionals can assist in supporting caregivers in their role are discussed.

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Using the social care framework to analyse research on young carers

Bettina Cass, with Deborah Brennan, Ilan Katz, Catherine Thomson and Deborah Mitchell, and 10 Partner organisations in NSW and South Australia, are undertaking a three-year ARC Linkage Grant project on 'Young Carers: Social Policy impacts of the caring responsibilities of children and young people'. Located at the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW), the investigators are exploring the interplay between the socio-economic and socio-cultural circumstances in which young people take up caring responsibilities; the policy settings that affect the level and types of care which they provide; and the impacts of care-giving on their participation in education, employment and friendship/social networks. The project will map the gaps in service provision which young carers, their care recipients and service providers identify.

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A systematic review of social support interventions for caregivers of people with dementia: Are they doing what they promise?

Objective: Social support interventions for caregivers of persons with dementia (PwD) are important because informal carers often rely on their social networks for support. This systematic review synthesises findings from research on social support interventions, and examines their methodological quality and effectiveness on caregiver social support and well-being variables.

Methods: A systematic literature search utilised five databases. Papers were selected when the primary aim of the intervention was to improve social support. Quality of papers was assessed by the Level of Evidence grade and the criteria list from the Cochrane Back Review Group.

Results: 39 papers were identified and classified into 4 social support intervention categories: befriending and peer support, family support and social network interventions, support groups, and remote interventions using the internet or telephone. Content, intensity, uptake, effectiveness and quality of interventions varied widely. In general, the level of evidence was low. Most studies measured effect on well-being variables, while few examined social support outcomes. Multi-component social support interventions were most effective. Evidence suggested, also a caregiver benefit from remote interventions. Generally, results were inconsistent; some papers demonstrated beneficial results, while others demonstrated no improvement on social support and well-being variables. Social support outcomes were more positively evaluated when qualitative outcome measures rather than quantitative measures were used.

Conclusions: Although multi-component social support interventionsmay improve caregiver well-being, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether a change in social support is the underlying mediating factor. The inclusion, validation and operationalization of caregiver social support measures deserve more attention.

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All in the same boat

Hampshire: Alzheimer Cafe UK – a new approach to support for people with dementia and their carers – has been launched in Hampshire. Kandy Redwood explains.

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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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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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Internet interventions can meet the emotional needs of patients and carers managing long-term conditions

Experiencing and managing a long-term condition places heavy emotional demands on a patient or carer. We conducted disease-specific focus groups for patients or carers. We recruited adults with diabetes, heart disease or hepatitis C, parents of children with asthma or diabetes, and carers of people with Alzheimer's disease. Participants had sole access to a PC and were asked to use three Internet interventions, each for 30 min. We conducted 10 disease-specific focus groups in three areas of the UK, involving a total of 40 participants. Three main themes emerged from the data: dealing with negative emotions, boosting positive emotions and social support. Designers of Internet interventions should consider users’ emotional needs and how to meet these needs with every section or facility within an intervention.

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How do proxies' perceptions of patients' pain, anxiety, and depression change during the bereavement period?

The retrospective approach in palliative care research provides valuable insight into death and dying, and the effectiveness of palliative care. The method involves collecting information from proxies (usually significant others) after the patient's death. This exploratory study investigates whether proxies' accounts differ during bereavement, and provides possible explanations for why discrepancies might occur. Thirteen bereaved family members were interviewed, at three to five months and seven to nine months after the patient's death, about the patient's pain, anxiety, and depression, using semi-structured interviews and the symptom rating scale from the Views of Informal Carers-Evaluation of Services (VOICES) interview. Analysis of VOICES ratings over time indicated consistency for anxiety, while pain and depression ratings were variable and, in many cases, less severe and less frequent with the passage of time. Qualitative analysis of proxies' interview transcripts revealed a number of categories and themes that could be explained within the psychological and palliative care literature. The findings suggest that timing is an important consideration when gathering information from proxies retrospectively.

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Understanding social support for patients with cancer

This article considers some of the dimensions of social support that can impact on the quality of life of people with cancer, their carers and their family. The article concentrates on emotional support, information support and tangible support.

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Caring for family members with chronic physical illness: a critical review of caregiver literature

This article reviews 19 studies (1987–2004) on quality of life for family caregivers helping those with chronic physical illness. Here we explore the concepts of and instruments used to measure caregivers' quality of life. We were particularly interested in understanding stress-related variables and documenting factors influencing quality of life based on family stress theory. Findings show that various positive and negative terms equated with quality of life were used to measure them. Results indicate that stress-related variables as possible predictors influencing caregivers' quality of life include: patient and caregiver characteristics, stressors, stress appraisal, stress coping methods, and social support. Our recommendations touch upon applying theory for intervention, developing measurement, making operable the concepts for measuring, and the need for longitudinal and comprehensive study.

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Prevalence, disability and need in adults with severe learning disability

Evidence from a variety of sources suggests that there has been an increase of around 1% per annum in the prevalence of learning disability (LD) in adults over the last 35 years, due mainly to increases in survival. This trend is likely to continue for at least another ten years. Ninety‐six percent of adults notified to the Leicestershire LD register have an estimated IQ below 50 or need supervision every day to remain safe. Three‐quarters have additional significant disabilities including behaviour problems, psychological symptoms, physical dependencies or epilepsy. In one quarter the behaviour problem poses a major challenge to the achievement of an ordinary life. Two‐thirds indicate a need for help from one or other specialist. Informal carers are actively providing care for nearly half the adults, but a quarter are not content with care‐giving. Carers Report 40% more limiting health problems than their counterparts in the general population, in particular depression in women and cardiovascular problems in men. The specific areas of unmet need among carers Reporting depression are for financial help, long‐term social support and medical advice. Resource allocation for this client group needs to be reviewed in the light of substantial and unrecognised increases in prevalence which are continuing to occur, and the need for long‐term support.

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Using the life course perspective to study the entry into the illness trajectory: the perspective of caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease

The research community is showing increasing interest in the analysis of the care trajectory of people with chronic health problems, especially dementias such as Alzheimer's disease. However, despite this interest, there is little research on the initial phases of the care trajectory. The fact that the first symptoms of dementia are generally noticed by those surrounding the elderly person suggests that the recognition of the disease is intimately linked to interactions not only amongst family members but also amongst friends, neighbours and health professionals. This study focuses on the period beginning with the first manifestations of cognitive difficulties and ending with the diagnosis of Alzheimer-type dementia. Interviews with 60 caregivers in Montreal, Canada were used to reconstruct how older people with Alzheimer-type dementia enter into the care trajectory. Our methods consisted of the analysis of social networks, social dynamics and action sequences. Our findings are presented in the form of a typology comprised of 5 pathways of entries into the care trajectory that are structured around the following four principles of the Life Course Perspective: family history, linked lives, human agency and organisational effects. We believe that analyses of the initial phases of the care trajectory, such as this one, are essential for the application of effective early detection and intervention policies. They are also central to informing future studies that seek to understand the care experience in its entirety.

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Emotional and Tangible Reciprocity in Middle- and Older-Aged Carers of Adults With Intellectual Disabilities

Reciprocal benefits may exist in relationships between carers and their adult sons/daughters with intellectual disabilities, but the topic has not been widely studied. The present study investigated whether older carers of adult children with intellectual disabilities perceive emotional and tangible reciprocity in their relationships and the association between perceived reciprocity with quality of life. The authors surveyed 91 parental carers (aged 50+ years, mean = 60.8). Bivariate correlations and hierarchical regression analyses assessed the relationship between tangible and emotional reciprocity and carer quality of life variables (physical and mental health, depressive symptomatology, life satisfaction) and carers' desire for an alternative residential situation of their son/daughter. Overall, more tangible and emotional support was given than received from their adult children. However, despite varying levels of intellectual disability and functional impairments of their care recipient, carers did report receiving considerable support. Relative disadvantage (i.e., giving more than received) in tangible reciprocity was associated with increased depressive symptomatology and poorer mental health but also reduced desire for seeking an alternative residential situation for the person for whom they are caring. These relationships were attenuated after covariance analyses. Emotional reciprocity was not associated with any of the outcome measures. The results suggest that perceptions of reciprocity are relevant in caregiving for intellectual disability and may be an underappreciated asset in coping with caregiving.

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Social capital in a lower socioeconomic palliative care population: a qualitative investigation of individual, community and civic networks and relations

Background: Lower socioeconomic populations live and die in contexts that render them vulnerable to poorer health and wellbeing. Contexts of care at the end of life are overwhelmingly determined by the capacity and nature of formal and informal networks and relations to support care. To date, studies exploring the nature of networks and relations of support in lower socioeconomic populations at the end of life are absent. This qualitative study sought to identify the nature of individual, community and civic networks and relations that defined the contexts of care for this group.

Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 16 patients and 6 informal carers who identified that they had social and economic needs and were from a lower socioeconomic area. A social capital questionnaire identifying individual, community and civic networks and relations formed the interview guide. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and analysed using framework analysis.

Results: Participants identified that individual and community networks and relations of support were mainly inadequate to meet care needs. Specifically, data revealed: (1) individual (informal caregivers) networks and relations were small and fragile due to the nature of conflict and crisis; (2) community trust and engagement was limited and shifted by illness and caregiving; (3) and formal care services were inconsistent and provided limited practical support. Some transitions in community relations for support were noted. Levels of civic and government engagement and support were overall positive and enabled access to welfare resources.

Conclusion: Networks and relations of support are essential for ensuring quality end of life care is achieved. Lower socioeconomic groups are at a distinct disadvantage where these networks and relations are limited, as they lack the resources necessary to augment these gaps. Understanding of the nature of assets and limitations, in networks and relations of support, is necessary to inform interventions to improve end of life care for lower socioeconomic populations.

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Stress, distress and mucosal immunity in carers of a partner with fronto-temporal dementia

Objectives: This study investigates the psychological and physiological impact of caring for a partner with fronto-temporal dementia (FTD). Carers were expected to exhibit greater stress and poorer psychological well-being in comparison with non-carers, and suppressed mucosal immunity.

Method: Twenty-five carers and 36 non-carers completed standardised psychological assessments of perceived stress, psychological well-being, coping and social support. Levels of mucosal immunity were assessed in saliva samples collected over the 3 days of the study, alongside daily assessments of stress, arousal and mood.

Results: Informal carers as a group reported greater stress and poorer psychological well-being, but there was considerable variation, with some carers reporting better psychological functioning than non-carers. Immune levels were not suppressed in carers compared with non-carers; counter to hypothesis, there was a positive correlation between immunity and poorer psychological well-being.

Conclusions: This research suggests that caring for a partner with FTD increases distress and carers might benefit from psychological intervention. However, the variation in psychological well-being requires explanation. Furthermore, this first examination of mucosal immunity employing participants experiencing enduring stress suggests that, in contrast to previous research, enduring stress does not lead to suppression of mucosal immunity and may actually enhance it.

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Tools to measure quality of life and carer burden in informal carers of heart failure patients: A narrative review

Background: Heart failure is a complex cardiac syndrome prevalent in an older population. Caring for heart failure patients through the disease trajectory presents physical and emotional challenges for informal carers. Carers have to deal with clinically unstable patients, the responsibility of managing and titrating medication according to symptoms and frequent admissions to acute care. These challenges compound the demands on caregivers’ physical and psychosocial well-being. Alongside the negative impact of being a carer, positive aspects have also been demonstrated; carers describe feelings of shared responsibility of caring with professional carers and the reward of supporting a loved one, which creates a new role in their relationship.

Aim: This review explores the dimensions that impact caregiver burden and quality of life in carers of patients with heart failure and highlights both the negative and positive aspects of being an informal carer for heart failure patients.

Design: This review followed the processes recommended for a narrative review. Studies identified were selected systematically following the PRISMA guidelines.

Data sources: Searches were conducted using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and keywords of the following search engines: MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Embase, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA), PsycINFO and Cochrane for literature published until January 2012.

Results: Quality assessment of the studies was conducted using quality indicators, and the studies included in this review were categorised as fair or good according to the criteria. Of the 1008 studies initially identified, 16 studies met the inclusion criteria. A thematic synthesis was undertaken, and the following themes were identified

  • Perceived carer control;

  • Mental and emotional well-being;

  • Types and impact of caregiving tasks;

  • Impact of patients’ physical condition;

  • Impact of age/gender/demographic factors;

  • Positive aspects of caregiving.

Conclusions: This review highlights evidence that informal carers supporting patients with heart failure face many challenges impacting their physical and mental well-being. The studies described provide an insight into the individual dimensions that make a carer particularly vulnerable, namely, younger carers, female carers and carers with existing physical and emotional health issues. Additionally, there are external influences that increase risk of burden, including New York Heart Association Score status of the patient, if the patient has had recurrent emergency admissions or has recently been discharged home and the level of social support available to the carer. A further finding from conducting this review is that there are still limited measures of the positive aspects of caregiving.

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Efficacy and experiences of telephone counselling for informal carers of people with dementia

Background: Informal carers of people with dementia can suffer from depressive symptoms, emotional distress and other physiological, social and financial consequences.

Objectives: This review focuses on three main objectives: To: 1) produce a quantitative review of the efficacy of telephone counselling for informal carers of people with dementia; 2) synthesize qualitative studies to explore carers’ experiences of receiving telephone counselling and counsellors’ experiences of conducting telephone counselling; and 3) integrate 1) and 2) to identify aspects of the intervention that are valued and work well, and those interventional components that should be improved or redesigned.

Search methods: The Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group's Specialized Register, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, MEDLINE in Process, EMBASE, CINAHL, PSYNDEX, PsycINFO, Web of Science, DIMDI databases, Springer database, Science direct and trial registers were searched on 3 May 2011 and updated on 25 February 2013. A Forward Citation search was conducted for included studies in Web of Science and Google Scholar. We used the Related Articles service of PubMed for included studies, contacted experts and hand-searched abstracts of five congresses.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or cross-over trials that compared telephone counselling for informal carers of people with dementia against no treatment, usual care or friendly calls for chatting were included evaluation of efficacy. Qualitative studies with qualitative methods of data collection and analysis were also included to address experiences with telephone counselling.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently screened articles for inclusion criteria, extracted data and assessed the quantitative trials with the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool and the qualitative studies with the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) tool. The authors conducted meta-analyses, but reported some results in narrative form due to clinical heterogeneity. The authors synthesised the qualitative data and integrated quantitative RCT data with the qualitative data.

Main results: Nine RCTs and two qualitative studies were included. Six studies investigated telephone counselling without additional intervention, one study combined telephone counselling with video sessions, and two studies combined it with video sessions and a workbook. All quantitative studies had a high risk of bias in terms of blinding of participants and outcome assessment. Most studies provided no information about random sequence generation and allocation concealment. The quality of the qualitative studies ('thin descriptions') was assessed as moderate. Meta-analyses indicated a reduction of depressive symptoms for telephone counselling without additional intervention (three trials, 163 participants: standardised mean different (SMD) 0.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01 to 0.63, P value 0.04; moderate quality evidence). The estimated effects on other outcomes (burden, distress, anxiety, quality of life, self-efficacy, satisfaction and social support) were uncertain and differences could not be excluded (burden: four trials, 165 participants: SMD 0.45, 95% CI -0.01 to 0.90, P value 0.05; moderate quality evidence; support: two trials, 67 participants: SMD 0.25, 95% CI -0.24 to 0.73, P value 0.32; low quality evidence). None of the quantitative studies included reported adverse effects or harm due to telephone counselling. Three analytical themes (barriers and facilitators for successful implementation of telephone counselling, counsellor's emotional attitude and content of telephone counselling) and 16 descriptive themes that present the carers’ needs for telephone counselling were identified in the thematic synthesis. Integration of quantitative and qualitative data shows potential for improvement. For example, no RCT reported that the counsellor provided 24-hour availability or that there was debriefing of the counsellor. Also, the qualitative studies covered a limited range of ways of performing telephone counselling.

Authors' conclusions: There is evidence that telephone counselling can reduce depressive symptoms for carers of people with dementia and that telephone counselling meets important needs of the carer. This result needs to be confirmed in future studies that evaluate efficacy through robust RCTs and the experience aspect through qualitative studies with rich data.

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Spousal Caregiving and Financial Strain Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults

We examine whether spousal caregivers face difficulties in meeting their basic household expenses compared to nonspousal caregivers and whether social support mechanisms ameliorate any financial strain from caregiving responsibilities. We use data for caregivers aged 45 and over drawn from a nationally representative, cross-sectional Canadian Community Health Survey-Healthy Aging (N = 5,067). Spousal caregiving is associated with a 35% increase in the likelihood of experiencing difficulties in meeting basic expenses compared to other types of caregiving. Each of social support mechanisms (affectionate, emotional/informational, and positive social interaction), singularly and combined, lessens financial strain from caregiving. Our findings suggest that spousal caregivers are particularly vulnerable because they have fewer resources to draw on for support and perform much more intensive care. Our results highlight the importance of developing appropriate policies and programs to support caregivers.

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Risk factors for burn-out in caregivers of stroke patients, and possibilities for intervention

OBJECTIVE: To identify which caregivers of stroke patients living at home experience the highest levels of strain and are at risk of burn-out, and to investigate how support for caregivers of stroke patients could best be organized, and when this support should be offered.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Caregivers of stroke patients were recruited in four regions of the Netherlands. A total of 212 caregivers were interviewed. Multiple stepwise regression analysis was performed to determine the effects of patient and caregiver characteristics, resources, coping strategies and duration of the caregiver role on caregiver strain, mental well-being and vitality.

SUBJECTS: The majority of the caregivers were female spouses. Their mean age was 64 years, and their socioeconomic status middle class. Stroke had occurred about 3.5 years ago on average.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The following main outcome measures were used: the Caregiver Strain Index, and two scales of the Short Form-36 to measure caregivers' mental well-being and vitality.

RESULTS: Severe cognitive, behavioural and emotional changes in the patient constitute the main risk factors for caregiver burn-out. Women, younger caregivers and caregivers in poor physical health were also identified as risk groups. Caregivers with high perceived self-efficacy, satisfied with social support, and frequently using the coping strategy confronting, experience less strain, higher mental well-being and greater vitality. Duration of the caregiver role does not influence caregivers' strain, mental well-being or vitality.

CONCLUSIONS: Women, younger caregivers, caregivers in poor physical health, and caregivers of patients with severe changes are at risk of burn-out. Support programmes should focus on self-efficacy, social support, and the coping strategy confronting. No specific moment could be identified at which support programmes should be offered.

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Time spent on health related activities associated with chronic illness: a scoping literature review

Background: The management of health care, particularly for people with chronic conditions, combines the activities of health professionals, patients, informal carers and social networks that support them. Understanding the non-professional roles in health management requires information about the health related activities (HRA) that are undertaken by patients and informal carers. This understanding allows management planning that incorporates the capacity of patients and informal carers, as well as identifying the particular skills, knowledge and technical support that are necessary. This review was undertaken to identify how much time people with chronic illness and their informal carers spend on HRA.

Methods: Literature searches of three electronic databases (CINAHL, Medline, and PubMed) and two journals (Time and Society, Sociology of Health and Illness) were carried out in 2011 using the following search terms (and derivatives): chronic illness AND time AND consumer OR carer. The search was aimed at finding studies of time spent on HRA. A scoping literature review method was utilised.

Results: Twenty-two peer reviewed articles published between 1990 and 2010 were included for review. The review identified limited but specific studies about time use by people with a chronic illness and/or their carers. While illness work was seen as demanding, few studies combined inquiry about both defined tasks and defined time use. It also identified methodological issues such as consistency of definition and data collection methods, which remain unresolved.

Conclusions: While HRA are seen as demanding by people doing them, few studies have measured actual time taken to carry out a comprehensive range of HRA. The results of this review suggest that both patients with chronic illness and informal carers may be spending 2 hours a day or more on HRA. Illnesses such as diabetes may be associated with higher time use. More empirical research is needed to understand the time demands of self-management, particularly for those affected by chronic illness.

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Parents and partners: lay carers' perceptions of their role in the treatment and care of adults with cystic fibrosis

Background.  Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common autosomal recessive genetic disease in Caucasian people, traditionally conceptualized as a condition whereby sufferers died in childhood. However, the current median survival age of 30 and a predicted median survival age of 40 for those born with the disease over the last decade ensure that families members will assist hospital staff with treatment and care well into most patients' adulthood.

Aims.  This study explores the perceptions and experiences of lay care-giving amongst parents and partners of adults with CF who were being treated at a specialist CF centre in England.

Methods.  Thirty-one relatives of adults with CF were interviewed in their own homes using an interview topic guide. All interviews were audiotape recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis of data was assisted by ATLAS-ti, a software package for qualitative research.

Findings.  Two main themes surrounding lay carers' role in treatment and care were identified. Firstly, the notion of lay carers giving ‘expert’ care, both in hospital and at home was recognized. Parents' expertise was greater than that of partners until the patient required intensive hospital interventions, when partner expertise increased. Secondly, the degree of lay carers' felt inclusion in the hospital consultation appeared to depend on the nature of their relationship with the patient and the patients' health state.

Conclusion.  Lay carers are routinely performing tasks for adults with CF that were once the remit of trained nurses. Families need higher levels of nursing and social support when certain treatments are used at home. Attention needs to be directed to how lay carers of adult patients can be included in hospital consultations.

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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 [...]

Effectiveness of web-based versus folder support interventions for young informal carers of persons with mental illness: A randomized controlled trial

Objective: Compare the impact of two interventions, a web-based support and a folder support, for young persons who care for people who suffer from mental illness.

Methods: This study was a randomized control trial, following the CONSORT statements, which compared the impact of two interventions. Primary outcome variable was stress, and secondary outcome variables were caring situation, general self-efficacy, well-being, health, and quality of life of young informal carers (N = 241). Data were collected in June 2010 to April 2011, with self-assessment questionnaires, comparing the two interventions and also to detect changes.

Results: The stress levels were high in both groups at baseline, but decreased in the folder group. The folder group had improvement in their caring situation (also different from the web group), general self-efficacy, well-being, and quality of life. The web group showed increase in well-being.

Conclusion: Young informal carers who take on the responsibility for people close to them; suffer consequences on their own health. They live in a life-situation characterized by high stress and low well-being. This signals a need for support.

Practice implications: The non-significant differences show that each intervention can be effective, and that it depends upon the individual's preferences. This highlights the importance of adopting person-centered approach, in which young persons can themselves choose support strategy.

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Who cares for caregivers? Evidence-based approaches to family support

Currently, more than one in 10 Americans are caregivers, and projections suggest exponential increases in caregiving in the years ahead. Not only is the population growing older, but the spike, in particular, created by the aging of some 78 million baby boomers portends far greater demand. Families continue to represent the lion’s share of caregivers and their caregiving efforts are substantial in every sense of the word. 

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System-wide information about family carers of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities: scoping review of the literature

Family carers play an important role supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) into adulthood. Funders of services often desire this ongoing involvement by family members yet they rarely collect data about family carers. As policy makers and planners are increasingly recognizing the need for information related to indicators of system performance, a scoping review was conducted to identify system-wide information needed about family carers of adults with I/DD that would help improve the quality of service provided. A final review of 87 research articles was organized in terms of service use, service need, and permanency planning by family carers of adults with I/DD. Service use and need were associated with the presence of challenging behaviors among individuals with I/DD as well as carer demographics and health status. In addition, carers' subjective view of how well they think they can provide for their child in the future was an important determining factor of service need. Permanency planning was associated with child level of functioning as well as parent income, social support, and compound caregiving demands. Studies highlighted the importance of measuring family carers' mental and physical health and their perceptions of the adequacy of services received. Considered also were methodological limitations, highlighting considerations for future system monitoring. Methodological limitations of studies reviewed include reliance on cross-sectional data, samples consisting of families already receiving at least some services, and little information about the process of seeking and obtaining services. Areas to target in future system monitoring include information on who needs services, what services are needed, families' perceptions of the caregiving experience and families' experiences waiting for services over time. Understanding the experiences of family carers as seekers of formal services can help inform policy and practice.

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Determinants of the caregiver's appraisal in the context of caregiving

This article seeks to examine the factors affecting the caregiver's appraisal of caring for a mentally ill relative. Two hundred and ten caregivers attending to a family member with chronic mental illness in India were interviewed for the study. the results of path analysis indicate burden experienced in the context of caregiving, patient's illness characteristics, and kinship support to be the most significant factors contributing to the caregiver's appraisal of the caregiving experience. The implications of the findings are summarised.

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A pilot study of how information and communication technology may contribute to health promotion among elderly spousal carers in Norway

The objective of this pilot Norwegian intervention study was to explore whether use of information and communication technology (ICT) by informal carers of frail elderly people living at home would enable them to gain more knowledge about chronic illness, caring and coping, establish an informal support network and reduce stress and related mental health problems. Potential participants were close relatives of an elderly person with a diagnosis of a chronic illness dwelling in the same household who wished to continue caring for their relative at home, were 60 years of age or older, had been caring for less than 2 years, were a computer novice and had Norwegian as their first language. Nineteen elderly spousal carers participated in the study from two municipalities in eastern Norway. The project commenced in January 2004 and consisted of a multimethod evaluation model. Outcomes measured included carers’ social contacts (measured by the Family and Friendship Contacts scale); burden of care (measured by the Relative Stress scale); and knowledge about chronic disease and caring, stress and mental health and use of ICT (examined via a composite carer questionnaire). These quantitative data were collected immediately prior to the study and at 12 months. Qualitative data were also collected via focus group interviews with participant carers at 7 months. At follow-up, quantitative measures did not reveal any reduction in carer stress or mental health problems. However, carers reported extensive use of the ICT service, more social contacts and increased support and less need for information about chronic illness and caring. Contact with and support from other carers with similar experiences was particularly valued by participants. The intervention also enhanced contacts with family and friends outside the carer network. Thus, it can be seen that ICT has the potential to contribute to health promotion among elderly spousal carers.

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Experiences of rural male caregivers of older adults with their informal support networks

More male caregivers are assuming primary caregiving roles for older adults with chronic health conditions. One of the main sources of support for many caregivers is the assistance that is provided by members of their informal support network. Little is known about the relationship between male caregivers and their informal support networks. This qualitative study examines the experience of male caregivers with their informal support networks, specifically looking at two phenomena: (1) Perceptions of the male caregivers about the willingness of their informal support networks to provide caregiving assistance and (2) Willingness of the male caregivers to ask their informal support networks for assistance. Twenty male caregivers were recruited across a rural Midwestern state. Each male caregiver engaged in two interviews that lasted between 60 and 120 minutes. Seven themes emerged from the data about the male caregivers experience with their informal support networks. Results from this study have implications for geriatric health professionals who work with male caregivers to obtain the necessary amount of caregiving assistance.

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A grounded theory longitudinal study of carers’ experiences of caring for people with dementia

Introduction: Increasingly the provision of care for older people with dementia has shifted from institutions to the community. This has resulted in an increase in burden and a reduction in autonomy for those who care for these individuals.

Aims: This study sought to identify, describe and explore the changes in the carers’ experiences of looking after a relative living with dementia, and the effects of caring on the carers’ autonomy and health over time.

Research Methods: A longitudinal, grounded theory approach in three phases was used. In-depth interviews were conducted with six spouses at the beginning, at six months and at eighteen months. A constant comparative analysis of taped and transcribed interviews was used.

Findings: Four categories emerged: My Life Changed, Commitment, Responsibility and Duty, and Support. The core category My Life Changed was identified as representing the beginning of the caregiving journey; and the learning from experience that occurred as a consequence of that journey, offering a new perspective on the experience of carers. Commitment refers to a deepened and sustained element; Responsibility and Duty increases over time and finally Support refers to the fluctuating nature of help provided by formal and informal sources. All participants experienced changes in the caregiving journey; the degree and nature of necessary adaptations varied.

Conclusions: A Theory of Caring emerged, but what changes were experienced did not appear to conform to any fixed pattern. All carers learned by experience to manage their situations. For all carers their autonomy and health was challenged.

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Caregiver's burden, depression and support as predictors of post-stroke depression: a cross-sectional survey

To examine the effects of caregiver's burden, depression, and support on post-stroke depression (PSD), cross-sectional data were obtained from an epidemiologic survey of 225 stroke survivors and their caregivers living in Seoul, Korea. Multivariate analyses showed that, taking the clinical status of patients into account, caregiver's burden, depression and support were related to higher PSD. Perceived burden exerts adverse effects on PSD through its influence on the depression in caregivers. Hence, the care of stroke survivors that incorporates the care of caregivers is likely to reduce the risk of post-stroke depression in patients.

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Burden and quality of life in caregivers of persons with multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the second most common cause of disability among nervous system diseases. This disease causes reduced quality of life of patients and those caring for them. Quality of life (QoL) measures consist of at least three broad domains: physical, mental and social. In the field of medicine, researchers have often used the concept of health-related quality of life, which specifically focuses on the impact of an illness and/or treatment on patients’ perception of their status of health and on subjective well-being or satisfaction with life. Subjective factors of QoL in MS patients include perception of symptoms, level of fitness, self-image, satisfaction with family life, work, the economic situation, interaction with other people, social support and life in general. Objective factors include the clinical picture of disease, social status, social and living conditions and the number and intensity of social contacts. While many generic and specific questionnaires have been developed to assess QoL in patients with MS, including general fatigue, there is a lack of specific questionnaires assessing QoL of caregivers.

In this paper, a review of selected studies on QoL and caregiver burden in MS and a summary of the most popular questionnaires measuring burden and QoL are presented. Special attention is paid to the first questionnaire specific for QoL of carers of persons with MS, CAREQOL-MS by Benito-León et al.

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What constitutes health-related quality of life in dementia? Development of a conceptual framework for people with dementia and their carers

Background: The evaluation of multi-dimensional outcomes such as health-related quality of life (HRQL) is particularly relevant in dementia where the disease can compromise all areas of functioning. The nature of dementia can make self-report difficult, yet the subjective nature of HRQL makes the value of proxy reports limited. Previous work suggests that there are domains of HRQL that are unique to dementia. We aimed to develop a conceptual framework of HRQL in dementia from the perspective of people with dementia and their carers and to examine differences in the reports of the HRQL of these two groups.

Methods: We combined existing literature and new qualitative data to develop the conceptual framework and analysed qualitative data using content analysis.

Results: We identified five domains: daily activities and looking after yourself, health and well-being, cognitive functioning, social relationships and self-concept, and each was defined by specific descriptive components. There were differences between people with dementia and carers in the way they described these domains.

Conclusions: We have developed a conceptual framework of HRQL in dementia that incorporates the views of people with dementia and their carers. This provides the basis for the development of a new measure of HRQL in dementia (DEMQOL). Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Caring, Employment, and Quality of Life: Comparison of Employed and Nonemployed Mothers of Adults with Intellectual Disability

The effects of caregiving on mothers of adults with intellectual disability was examined by determining whether there are differences in quality of life and related factors between mothers with different employment status. Study participants were 302 working-age mothers who had adult children with intellectual disability based on the 2008 census survey on intellectual disability carried out in Hsinchu, City, Taiwan. Results revealed that nonemployed mothers are more likely to have a lower level of health status, including the WHOQOL Physical Health domain, than are mothers employed fulltime. Multiple regression analysis showed that mothers' quality of life was significantly determined by the availability of a person with whom they could share care work, family income, social support, and employment status.

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Work Productivity and Health of Informal Caregivers of Persons With Advanced Cancer

The purpose of this study was to describe health promotion behaviors and work productivity loss in informal caregivers of individuals with advanced stage cancer. Using a cross-sectional, correlational design, 70 caregivers completed measures of health behaviors, mood, social support, and burden. Absenteeism and presenteeism were evaluated in employed caregivers (n = 40). Caregivers reported low levels of physical activity. The mean percentage of work productivity loss due to caregiving was 22.9%. Greater work productivity loss was associated with greater number of caregiving hours, higher cancer stage, married status, and greater anxiety, depression, and burden related to financial problems, disrupted schedule, and health. Nurses should assess caregivers and provide health promotion interventions, which may ultimately reduce the economic impact of caregiving. [Copyright John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.]

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Partners in care: being equally different: lesbian and gay carers

The images of other people we see on a daily basis in the media invite us all to compare ourselves with, identify with, or aspire to be like whoever is shown. Mostly this activity is of little significance and hardly touches our lives, but the further we know ourselves to be different from the norm then the more challenging those differences become to us.

This article describes the Lesbian and Gay Carers’ Network. The author argues that there remains a deep need within the health and social service sector, and indeed in the residential home sector, to learn more about us as ‘gay’ people, to learn how to empathise so that they feel safe to talk about their relationships and needs, and to encourage them to request help without feeling threatened. When society achieves that then the need for ‘gay’ people to act  as a network will decrease, but society is  long way from that goal at present.

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An experimental study on the effectiveness of a mutual support group for family caregivers of a relative with dementia in mainland China

When caring for an older relative with dementia, family members experience considerable distress and burden. Literature reviews show that supportive group interventions for these caregivers have significant positive effects on improving their distress and quality of life, but not consistent and conclusive. Limited research is found in Asian populations. This study tested the effectiveness of a 12-session bi-weekly mutual support group program for Chinese family caregivers of a relative with dementia in Hong Kong, when compared with standard family support service. An experimental study with pre- and post-test, parallel groups design was conducted. A randomized sample of 78 family caregivers, 39 in each of the experimental and control groups, from one regional dementia care center participated in the study. A protocol was specifically designed by an advanced practice nurse to guide the mutual support group process and the facilitator and peer leader training, based on evidence from the literature on family support group intervention in Western countries. The results of ANOVA tests indicated that the mutual support group participants had significantly greater improvements in distress levels and quality of life than the control group. There were only mild changes in the demands for mental health services in both groups at post-test. These findings support the effectiveness of mutual support groups to offer psychosocial support to Chinese family caregivers in dementia care beyond routine community mental health care.

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Perception of social support in hospitalized patients

Grounds: The aim of our work has been to value the social support realised in 64 year old patients as web as in their informal carers in a Hospital Service of Traumatology and, at the same time, to know the specific characteristics in our work. Methods: all the variables have been taken thyrough a triple questionnaire structured in a total of 127 patients, using the questionnaire Duke-UNC to measure the functional social support. Results: For ill people, the punctuation of perceived social support was 44,6 on average; the informal carers presented an average global perception of 43,9. The role of the informal carer is worth as very essential for 51% of ill people, the 37,3% of the own informal carers and the 25,6% of the professional. Conclusions: The best punctuation of social support realised has corresponded to the perception of affection. The informal care is considered as essential for the patient recovery and of great help in hospitalisation.

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Health and Social Care Needs of Somali Refugees With Visual Impairment (VIP) Living in the United Kingdom: A Focused Ethnography With Somali People With VIP, Their Caregivers, Service Providers, and Members of the Horn of Africa Blind Society

Purpose: To explore the health and social care needs of Somali refugees with visual impairment (VIP). Design: We conducted a three-phased focused ethnography in collaboration with the Horn of Africa Blind Society (HABS) through all stages from research design to findings dissemination. Method: Engaging in participatory research, HABS members (n = 26), service providers (n = 10), and two Somali community groups (n = 8 and n = 7) whose members were sighted (Phase 1) took part in four focus group interviews. Phases 2 and 3 consisted of interviews with Somali refugees with VIP (n = 32) and their informal carers (n = 5). We used framework data analysis methodology. Findings: Four major themes emerged: (1) sociocultural perceptions of blindness and visual impairment, (2) access to services, (3) isolation and insecurity, and (4) mobility. Conclusion: Somali people with VIP experience profound unmet social and health care needs related largely to social support, awareness of mobility options, and the stigmatization of visual impairment. Appropriate community outreach may improve access to services and quality of life for Somali people with VIP. Tailored information is needed to increase awareness of mobility and security services. Significant considerations exist when planning discharge from acute care settings to ensure continuity of support.

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Effectiveness of computer-mediated interventions for informal carers of people with dementia-a systematic review

Caring for a friend or relative with dementia can be burdensome and stressful, and puts carers at increased risk of physical and psychological problems. A number of psychosocial interventions, some delivered by computer, have been developed to support carers. This review evaluates the outcomes of computer-mediated interventions.

PsychINFO, MEDLINE, and CINAHL Plus were searched for papers published between January 2000 and September 2012. Study quality was evaluated using a modified version of Downs and Black's (1998) checklist.

Fourteen empirical studies, evaluating a range of complex, multifaceted interventions, met inclusion criteria. The most commonly measured variables were carer burden/stress and depression. In general, higher quality studies found that interventions did have an effect on these variables. Two higher quality studies also found that anxiety was reduced following intervention. Most studies found that positive aspects of caring were increased through these interventions, as was carer self-efficacy. There were mixed results in relation to social support, and physical aspects of caring did not seem to be affected. Program impact measures indicated general acceptability of these interventions.

The findings support the provision of computer-mediated interventions for carers of people with dementia. Future studies would benefit from design improvements, such as articulating clearly defined aims, having a control group, having adequate statistical power, and measuring a greater range of factors important to carers themselves.

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Young adult carers: a literature review informing the re-conceptualisation of young adult caregiving in Australia

The experiences of young adult carers (YACs) have been vastly under-researched, particularly within Australian caregiving literature. This article explores the existence, extent and nature of informal young adult caregiving in Australia, defining YACs as individuals aged between 18 and 25 years who provide unpaid care or support to family members living with chronic illness or disability. The aim of this article is to provide a foundation for the re-conceptualisation of YACs as a distinct carer cohort who, without suitable recognition and specifically targeted support, may experience significantly reduced future life opportunities. The traditional, narrative-based review will first redefine YACs in accordance with overseas literary definitions and will then explore the complex nature and extent of young adult caregiving in Australia. Explanations as to why young adults are increasingly undertaking these informal caregiving roles and how YACs differentiate from their non-carer peers will then follow. Finally, three prominent paradigms, namely the clinical, social capital and carers' rights' perspectives, will be presented to establish a greater understanding of the implications, contextual experiences and unmet civil rights of YACs in Australia.

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Facilitating support groups for siblings of children with neurodevelopmental disorders using audio-conferencing: a longitudinal feasibility study

Background: Siblings of children with chronic illness and disabilities are at increased risk of negative psychological effects. Support groups enable them to access psycho-education and social support. Barriers to this can include the distance they have to travel to meet face-to-face. Audio-conferencing, whereby three or more people can connect by telephone in different locations, is an efficient means of groups meeting and warrants exploration in this healthcare context. This study explored the feasibility of audio-conferencing as a method of facilitating sibling support groups

Methods: A longitudinal design was adopted. Participants were six siblings (aged eight to thirteen years) and parents of children with complex neurodevelopmental disorders attending the Centre for Interventional Paediatric Psychopharmacology (CIPP). Four of the eight one-hour weekly sessions were held face-to-face and the other four using audio-conferencing. Pre- and post-intervention questionnaires and interviews were completed and three to six month follow-up interviews were carried out. The sessions were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematic analysis was undertaken.

Results: Audio-conferencing as a form of telemedicine was acceptable to all six participants and was effective in facilitating sibling support groups. Audio-conferencing can overcome geographical barriers to children being able to receive group therapeutic healthcare interventions such as social support and psycho-education. Psychopathology ratings increased post-intervention in some participants. Siblings reported that communication between siblings and their family members increased and siblings’ social network widened.

Conclusions: Audio-conferencing is an acceptable, feasible and effective method of facilitating sibling support groups. Siblings’ clear accounts of neuropsychiatric symptoms render them reliable informants. Systematic assessment of siblings’ needs and strengthened links between Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, school counsellors and young carers groups are warranted.

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Networks of informal caring: a mixed-methods approach

Care for older people is a complex phenomenon, and is an area of pressing policy concern. Bringing together literature on care from social gerontology and economics, we report the findings of a mixed-methods project exploring networks of informal caring. Using quantitative data from the British Household Panel Survey (official survey of British households), together with qualitative interviews with older people and informal carers, we describe differences in formal care networks, and the factors and decision-making processes that have contributed to the formation of the networks. A network approach to care permits both quantitative and qualitative study, and the approach can be used to explore many important questions.

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"Sometimes we get it wrong but we keep on trying": A cross-sectional study of coping with communication problems by informal carers of stroke survivors with aphasia

Background: The need to support carers of stroke survivors is widely recognised. However, research on which to base recommendations is scarce. Little research has focused on carers of stroke survivors with aphasia, and that which exists suffers from problems with sample size and methodology. More information is needed about methods used by carers to manage communication difficulties and about coping strategies that promote emotional wellbeing.

Aims: To assess the coping strategies used by informal carers of stroke survivors with aphasia to manage communication problems, and their association with depressive symptoms. To assess whether a problem-specific coping inventory offers an advantage over a generic coping questionnaire for this purpose.

Methods & Procedures: Questionnaires were completed by 150 informal caregivers of stroke survivors with aphasia. The Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale measured depressive symptoms. Coping was assessed with the Brief COPE and a problem-specific questionnaire on coping with communication difficulties. Level of social support was also assessed. Multiple regression analysis explored associations between coping and depressive symptoms. Mediation analysis assessed the significance of the indirect effect of coping between the level of communication impairment in the stroke survivor and the degree of depressive symptoms in the carer.

Outcomes & Results: Participants reported a wide range of coping strategies. Avoidant styles of coping were associated with increased depressive symptomatology. Coping by use of positive reframing was linked with fewer symptoms of depression. Anticipated level of social support was also associated with less depressive symptomology. The level of communication impairment of the stroke survivor was not predictive of depressive symptoms in carers after controlling for coping and social support. Limited support was found for a mediating model of coping. Inclusion of one subscale from the problem-specific questionnaire improved the amount of variance accounted for in depressive symptoms, above that explained by the Brief COPE.

Conclusions: The results verify that the impairment of the stroke survivor has less effect on carers' psychosocial functioning compared to coping. Assessment of coping can help to identify carers presenting with increased risk of depression. A traditional coping inventory provides an adequate assessment of the coping strategies used to manage communication problems, and can be supplemented by specific questions about avoidance. Interventions that develop some emotion-focused coping strategies in carers may support adaptation. Interventions should also aim to decrease the use of unhelpful coping strategies rather than solely focusing on increasing problem-focused forms of coping.

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Implications for carers of terminally ill patients dying at home

Most terminally ill patients will express a wish to die at home. To achieve this, patients must rely on the support of family carers, who may experience emotional and health difficulties in providing such care, both before and after the death. Healthcare professionals can help to relieve the burden on family carers, and there is guidance available to direct GPs and other community healthcare professionals on providing good anticipatory palliative care for patients, and support for carers. This will increase the likelihood that patients at the end of life will achieve a 'good death', and family members will have a positive experience of care giving.

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Expectations of support among White British and Asian-Indian older people in Britain: the interdependence of formal and informal spheres

The discourse surrounding community care characterises informal support being superior to and preferred over formal sources of support, with this distinction buttressed by policy changes. There is a lack of understanding of the interdependence of both spheres of support. This article argues that an individual's experience and expectation of one type of support is often made in relation to his or her understanding, expectation and experience of other sources of support. There is also an urgent need to understand how these associations operate in a cross-cultural context as it is naïve to assume that normative expectations will remain constant when the relationship between family, state and other sources of support are unstable. This article reports on findings emerging from part of a Growing Older study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain to explore the relationship between quality of life and the social networks and support of older people from different ethnic groups. Research involved the use of a questionnaire comprising closed- and open-ended questions. In addition, in-depth qualitative interviews covering the existence and nature of social networks and support, as well as perceptions and expectations of these, were also conducted. This article reports on data relating to a sample comprising seven White British men, 10 White British women, 12 Asian-Indian men, and nine Asian-Indian women aged 55 and over derived from the Family Resources Survey. Findings reveal that the high level of expectation for family support amongst Asian-Indian respondents coexists with a high level of expectation for state support and an acknowledgement that the ideal of family support may not always materialise. Amongst White British respondents, the high level of expectation for state support exists regardless of whether the respondent has satisfactory informal social networks. This expectation is commonly expressed in terms of rights and entitlement by White British respondents but not by Asian-Indians. Associated with this, Asian-Indian respondents display a consistently lower level of awareness and usage of a range of health and social care services. Regardless of the extent of current and past usage of services, however, respondents from both groups overwhelmingly indicate an expectation for the continued provision of such services as they would like to be able to use one or more of these at some stage.

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Nursing support for family members of critically ill adults

Researchers have identified the needs of family members of critically ill adults, explored their experiences, and investigated interventions. To address a gap in the theoretical knowledge about how nurses help these individual, the authors developed a grounded theory of nursing support from the perspective of family members. Results indicated that family members were initiated into a cycle of Work to meet perceived responsibilities to Get Through the experience. Supportive nurses engaged in the process of Lightening Our Load to mitigate the negative effects of the critical care experience on family members by Engaging With Us, Sustaining Us, and Disengaging From Us. No previous research has yet identified the Work of these family members, the steps they take to gain nurses' respect, and the significance to them of nurses' Welcoming us and Saying goodbye. This theory extends the understanding of nursing support beyond current knowledge of family needs, caring, comfort, supportive care, and social support. 

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Understanding the caring capacity of informal networks of frail seniors: a case for care networks

Population ageing and constraints on public sector spending for older people with long-term health problems have led policy makers to turn to the social networks of older people, or the ‘informal sector’, as a source of long-term care. An important question arising from this policy shift is whether these social networks have the resources to sustain the high levels of care that can be required by older people with chronic health problems. In the face of both dire warnings about the imminent demise of the informal sector, and concurrent expectations that it will be the pillar of community long-term care, it is timely to undertake a critical analysis of the caring capacity of older people's social networks. In this paper we argue that the best way to understand the caring capacity of informal networks of frail older people is to establish their membership and caring capacity. It is useful to make conceptual distinctions between ‘social’, ‘support’, and ‘care-giving’ networks. We argue that transitions of networks from social through support to care roles are likely to show systematic patterns, and that at each transition the networks tend to contract as the more narrowly defined functions prevail. A focus on ‘care networks’, rather than the more usual ‘care dyads’, will move forward our understanding of the caring capacity of the informal sector, and also our ability to forge sound social and health policies to support those who provide care.

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Psychological Symptoms, Illness-Related Concerns and Characteristics of Relatives of Turkish Patients with Cancer

Being the relative of a patient with cancer is often very stressful, and there is a need for information, support, and help for carers. It is also important for the relative to know that the patient receives care of a good quality. This research investigated the relationships between sociodemographic characteristics, illness related concerns and psychological symptom scores of relatives of the patients with cancer in an inpatient oncology clinic of the GATA. A Questionnaire and Symptom Distress Check List (SCL-90-R) was administered to 106 relatives of in-patients and statistically significant relationships were found between the following characteristics and psychological symptom scores: sex, education level, duration of stay in hospital, having emotional problems and having financial problems. It was established that most problems of relatives were psychological and financial (p<0.05). Cancer is still a great source of fear and it is evident that offering psychosocial support at a professional level in addition to medical treatment will yield more favorable results for both patients and their relatives.

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Young carers as social actors: coping strategies of children caring for ailing or ageing guardians in Western Kenya

There is a vast body of research on the impact of HIV/AIDS on children, but little which acknowledges the role of children in providing care and support for ailing parents or ageing guardians. There has been a tendency to downplay the active role and agency of young carers, with young carers often represented as victims of damaging circumstances that compromise their psychosocial well-being. To counter-balance this tendency, and to develop the critical trend that views children as social actors, we explore how young carers cope with challenging circumstances, often with skill and ingenuity, drawing on data collected in Western Kenya in 2007. Forty-eight young carers (aged 11–17) used photography and drawing to provide accounts of their coping strategies. They described 240 of the resulting photographs and drawings in writing. In addition, 34 individual interviews and 2 group discussions were conducted with children to explore the findings further and 10 individual interviews with local adults were conducted to elucidate the dynamics between adults and children. Our data revealed that young carers cope by mobilising social support, engaging in income generating activities and constructing positive social identities around their caring roles. We conclude that children's ability to cope is determined by the extent to which they are able to participate in their community and negotiate support from it.

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Stroke: the increasing complexity of carer needs

In Australia, more than 346,000 individuals who experience a stroke return to living in their homes with varying degrees of disability. They rely on emotional and physical support from informal carers, typically family members. Informal carers have an indispensable role in patient care poststroke, and the ability of carers to manage this role effectively is crucial for stroke survivors to be able to return home. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of the caring role on carers of stroke survivors, particularly the services provided and the levels of depression and well-being experienced. The study used a longitudinal design incorporating survey methods. Stroke survivors were assessed for functional ability, quality of life, and depression using three assessment tools: the Stroke Impact Scale, World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF scale, and Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. A total of 26 people were surveyed: 13 stroke survivors and their 13 carers. Carer knowledge of stroke support services was also explored. Information was collected by using survey methods and structured interviews at 3 weeks and at 3 months postdischarge. The main finding was that depression scores for carers and stroke survivors were below Australian norms at both assessment time points. The major concern identified by carers was poor follow-up procedures for initiating rehabilitation in the home. This study highlighted that a lack of appropriate discharge planning, in conjunction with early discharge of stroke survivors, can have an impact on the rehabilitation process and place increased and unrealistic demands on carers.

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Family systems and mental health issues: a resilience approach

In many cases the consumers of mental health information and support are the families of mental health sufferers. The aim of the project was to understand resilience in people who live with or support a family member with a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. Participants were 15 carers (one male, 14 female). Semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analysed using content analysis. Eight recurring themes emerged which indicated the challenges the carers faced and provided indications of the positive and negative personal, family and social factors that impacted on their lives. These themes were ‘Getting to CLAN WA’, ‘Accessing help including CLAN WA’, ‘Impact of living with a person who has a mental illness or problematic behaviour’, ‘Family and cultural issues’, ‘Communication within the family’,‘Coping strategies and evidence of resilience’, ‘Social support’ and ‘Notion of sacrifice’. There is still considerable work to do in supporting people who live with or support a family member in these circumstances. The findings demonstrate that individuals living with adversity can do more than just survive the process.

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Exploring factors and caregiver outcomes associated with feelings of preparedness for caregiving in family caregivers in palliative care: A correlational, cross-sectional study

Background: Family caregivers in palliative care often report feeling insufficiently prepared to handle the caregiver role. Preparedness has been confirmed as a variable that may actually protect family caregiver well-being. Preparedness refers to how ready family caregivers perceive they are for the tasks and demands in the caregiving role.

Aim: The aim of this study was to explore factors associated with preparedness and to further investigate whether preparedness is associated with caregiver outcomes.

Design: This was a correlational study using a cross-sectional design.  Setting/participants: The study took place in three specialist palliative care units and one haematology unit. A total of 125 family caregivers of patients with life-threatening illness participated.

Result: Preparedness was significantly associated with higher levels of hope and reward and with a lower level of anxiety. In contrast, preparedness was not associated with depression or health. Being female and cohabiting with the patient were significantly associated with a higher level of preparedness. The relationship to the patient was significantly associated with preparedness, while social support, place of care, time since diagnosis and age of the patients showed no association.

Conclusion: Feelings of preparedness seem to be important for how family caregivers experience the unique situation when caring for a patient who is severely ill and close to death. Our findings support the inclusion of preparedness in support models for family caregivers in palliative care. Psycho-educational interventions could preferably be designed aiming to increase family caregiver’s preparedness to care, including practical care, communication and emotional support.

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A support group for caregivers of patients with frontotemporal dementia

Several recent articles have pointed out that caregivers of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) need counselling and support. To date, however, no support groups have been provided other than those available to caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). At our outpatient unit for cognitive disorders we initiated a specific support group for caregivers of patients with FTD. This pilot project had four objectives: 1) to provide information, advice and support to caregivers, 2) to learn more about the specific problems and needs of family carers of patients with FTD and to explore the differences to caregiver burden in AD, 3) to encourage mutual support and development of coping strategies, 4) to evaluate the intervention using a questionnaire completed by the caregiver. Eight spouse caregivers of patients diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) participated in special support groups. Seven weekly sessions of 90 minutes' duration were held. To evaluate the program participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their satisfaction with the support group immediately after the final session. Six months after the intervention they received a questionnaire by mail gathering information on coping efficacy. It became obvious that many problems faced by caregivers of patients with FTD are different from those encountered in AD. During group meetings participants were encouraged to express their own needs and to deal with painful emotions, including aggression, anger, mourning and guilt. Caregivers felt relieved by sharing their problems with others. They were able to learn from each other and to share coping strategies. The group also helped to establish new social relations contacts and even friendships. The participants rated the program as useful and said that benefits were sustained even six months after termination. We conclude from these initial observations that caregiver support groups are a useful component in the management of patients with FTD. Such groups should be tailored to the specific problems and needs of these caregivers. To maintain benefits, self-help groups are recommended even in the absence of professional input.

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Depressive symptoms in older female carers of adults with intellectual disabilities

Background  This survey study aims to examine the prevalence and factors associated with depressive symptoms among primary older female family carers of adults with intellectual disabilities (ID).

Method  In total, 350 female family carers aged 55 and older took part and completed the interview in their homes. The survey package contained standardised scales to assess carer self-reported depressive symptoms, social support, caregiving burden and disease and health, as well as adult and carer sociodemographic information. Multiple linear regressions were used to identify the factors associated with high depressive symptoms in carers.

Results  Between 64% and 72% of these carers were classified as having high depressive symptoms. The factors associated with carer self-reported depressive symptoms were carer physical health, social support and caregiving burden; overall, the carer self-reported physical health was a stronger factor associated with depressive symptoms than their physical disease status. The level of the adult with ID's behavioural functioning and the carer age, marital status, employment status, education level and the family income level were not significantly associated with carer depressive symptoms.

Conclusions  The factors identified in this study as correlating with self-reported depressive symptoms suggest that researchers and mental health professionals should collaborate to help improve the physical health and social support networks of the most vulnerable older female family carers. This should reduce depressive symptoms directly among this high-risk group.

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Caring for carers of people with stroke: developing a complex intervention following the Medical Research Council framework

Objective: To develop an intervention, using the first three phases of the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for complex interventions, to facilitate coping skills in new carers of stroke patients.

Methods: In the preclinical (theoretical) phase, a theoretically based framework for a small group course for carers of people with stroke was developed. The intervention was grounded in a cognitive behavioural model and included carers' needs identified from a literature review. Phase I (modelling phase) comprised a qualitative study involving one-to-one semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of informal carers of people with stroke. Following this, the intervention was modified. In phase II (exploratory phase), the modified intervention was delivered by a clinical psychologist and stroke nurse practitioner to five carers. Following postcourse interviews the course was further refined and delivered to seven new carers who subsequently completed a satisfaction questionnaire.

Results: Carers' needs identified from the literature included information provision; managing emotions; social support; health maintenance; and practical problem solving. Consultation with existing carers confirmed these as important issues with a strong emphasis on finding niches of control in life, becoming an expert carer, and dealing with emotional upheaval. Participants reported feeling more optimistic and empowered subsequent to the course.

Conclusions: The MRC framework provided a useful methodology for the development of a complex intervention. The course aimed to assist carers to regain control over aspects of their lives and manage their emotions. It was feasible to run and acceptable to carers; however a randomized controlled trial (RCT) is required to evaluate its effectiveness.

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Satisfaction with respite care: a pilot study

Satisfaction with respite care may be bound up with a variety of factors. The interaction of social support with ratings of a carer's satisfaction with respite care has not been explored in published work. The present authors postulated that social support, both during caring and during periods of relief from caring whilst in receipt of respite care, would be associated with greater satisfaction with respite care. They embarked upon a pilot study of carers who were looking after dependants with dementia, a particularly demanding form of care. Previously validated scales were used for determining levels of social support, and for assessing possible confounding factors such as carer depression or strain. One hundred and forty carers were contacted, but only 26 completed the questionnaires. In terms of perceived benefit to the carer, satisfaction was high (rating scale = 1–7, mean = 5.8, mode = 7) and correlated significantly with the numbers of people in the social support network (r = 0.57, P = 0.002), albeit not with any of the four measured types of support which they may have provided. Carer satisfaction was not significantly correlated with carer strain nor depression scores. Regression analysis demonstrated that 17% of the variance in this satisfaction score was accounted for by the numbers in the social support network. Other factors did not significantly explain the observed variation.

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A multi-professional short-term group intervention for informal caregivers of patients using a home palliative care service

Informal carers of home palliative care patients have high unmet needs. However, interventions for carers are few. This research-based short-term group intervention addresses the information and support needs of carers. Multiprofessional informal teaching is combined with peer support. The intervention was designed by integrating the findings from a qualitative study and the evidence on needs and interventions, in order to address the key issues of feasibility, acceptability, and accessibility. Qualitative data from attendees showed that identifying with other carers and validating feelings, asking questions of professionals, and providing each other with support and encouragement were valuable outcomes from the group.

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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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The physical functioning and mental health of informal carers: evidence of care-giving impacts from an Australian population-based cohort

Informal carers represent a substantial proportion of the population in many countries and health is an important factor in their capacity to continue care-giving. This study investigated the impact of care-giving on the mental and physical health of informal carers, taking account of contextual factors, including family and work. We examined health changes from before care-giving commenced to 2 and 4 years after, using longitudinal data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. The sample comprised 424 carers and 424 propensity score-matched non-carers. Health was self-assessed, measured with the SF-36 Health Survey Mental Health (MH) and Physical Functioning (PF) scales. Care-giving was classified as non-carer, low (<5 hours/week), moderate (5–19 hours/week) and high (20 or more hours/week). PF and MH change scores were regressed on baseline scores, care-giving, covariates (including work, family and socio-demographic characteristics) and interactions to identify impacts for subgroups. The physical and mental health impacts differed by gender, and care-giving hours and carer work hours were important contextual factors. Deterioration in both PF and MH was worse for females after 2 years and deterioration in MH was worse for males after 4 years. Among carers aged 40–64 years, there was a 17-point decline in PF (P = 0.009) and a 14-point decline in MH (P < 0.0001) after 2 years for female high caregivers working full-time and 9.3 point improvement (P = 0.02) for non-working male high caregivers. Change was not significant for non-carers. The study found that not all carers suffer adverse health impacts; however, the combination of high levels of care-giving with workforce participation can increase the risk of negative physical and mental health effects (particularly in female carers). Working carers providing high levels of care represent a vulnerable subgroup where supportive and preventive services might be focused.

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Lung cancer, caring for the caregivers. A qualitative study of providing pro-active social support targeted to the carers of patients with lung cancer

Introduction: Carers of patients with lung cancer often have a short time to access the support they require. The Macmillan Carers Project (MCP) was set up to provide non-clinical social support targeted in the community to the carers of patients with lung cancer and this study describes its evaluation. Methods: Prospective case study using interviews with the carers, project workers and health and social care professionals to obtain qualitative data for thematic analysis. 81 patients’ carers received support from the MCP; 20 carers, 2 MCP workers and their manager and 10 other professionals (chest consultant physician, lung cancer clinical nurse specialist, GP, four Macmillan nurses, hospice social worker and two community social workers) were interviewed. Results: Patients were predominantly male (62%), mean age 71 years and carers were predominantly female (70%) mean age 63 years. Carers identified the MCP as providing emotional support, more time, practical help, financial advice, information and back-up for a myriad of problems. Although there was some overlap with other services, the MCP was valued by carers and professionals as filling a gap in social care. Conclusions: The unique aspect of this study was support targeted to the carers of a single cancer site (lung) rather than generic cancer support. As lung cancer may progress rapidly, patients and their carers have a short time to gather new information, access services and adjust to their new circumstances and roles. By focusing on the needs of carers from the time of lung cancer diagnosis, we have shown that the MCP was a valued additional service, well received by carers, patients and professionals.

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Quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure and their carers: a 3-year follow-up study assessing hospitalization and mortality

Aims: Chronic heart failure (CHF) due to left ventricular systolic dysfunction is associated with poor quality of life (QoL). This study aimed to assess factors affecting health-related QoL in CHF patients and their carers and the impact of QoL on clinical outcomes.

Methods and results: Demographic, social, and clinical data were collected for consecutive CHF patients in an academic hospital setting. All patients (n = 179) and informal carers (n = 131) completed a generic QoL questionnaire (EQ-5D) and patients also completed a CHF-specific QoL questionnaire (Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire, MLHFQ). Patients were then followed up for 3 years to assess subsequent hospitalizations and mortality. Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire score was independently predicted by NYHA class, socioeconomic deprivation and lack of an informal carer. Severity of heart failure, anaemia, and cancer co-morbidity in CHF patients were associated with poor QoL in carers. Chronic heart failure patients with poor baseline QoL (MLHFQ > median) were at increased risk of hospital admissions [hazard ratios (HR) 7.3, P < 0.001] and death (HR 1.5, P = 0.09). Mortality was also independently associated with repeat hospitalization (HR 6.0, P < 0.001) and lack of beta-blocker therapy (HR 1.8, P = 0.03).

Conclusion: Severe heart failure, poor socioeconomic status and lack of social support results in poor QoL in CHF patients which in turn leads to an increased risk of hospital admissions and death. Quality of life in carers is lower in female carers, those with socioeconomic deprivation and those caring for patients with higher NYHA class or having a cancer. Quality of life assessment may complement clinical prognostic markers to identify CHF patients at high risk of adverse events.

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Living with advanced heart failure: a prospective, of patients and their carers based study community

Background: Services for people with heart failure are under-developed. The perspectives of patients, their informal and professional carers should inform development of service models.

Aim: To describes how patients and carers view health and social care in the last year of life.

Methods: Qualitative, serial interviews at three monthly intervals with 20 patients (New York Heart Association Grade IV heart failure), their main informal carer, general practitioner and other key professionals in an urban, community setting in SE Scotland. These were tape-recorded, and analysed with the aid of the qualitative data analysis package NVivo and techniques of narrative analysis.

Results: 112 interviews comprised; patients (50), informal carers (27), professionals (30), bereavement interviews (5). Patients with heart failure and their carers felt unsupported by services, and had little understanding of their condition, treatment aims or prognosis. Quality of life was severely compromised by physical limitations and psychological morbidity. Psychosocial care, patient and carer education, co-ordination of care between primary and secondary sectors and with social services was generally poor. Many patients had no access to a heart failure nurse specialist. A palliative care approach was rarely apparent.

Conclusions: Patients with advanced heart failure may benefit from specific models of care with strategic planning across primary and secondary care, and involvement of health and social care services and specialist palliative care providers. Models of care, which focus on quality of life, symptom control, and psychosocial support for patients and their families while continuing active treatment, should be developed.

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Effects of gender and employment status on support provided to caregivers

This study was designed to examine the impact of caregiver gender and employment status on laypeople's willingness to support the caregiver. A total of 216 undergraduates were randomly assigned to read 1 of 4 vignettes that described an individual caring for his or her physically ill spouse. Caregiver gender (man or woman) and employment status (full-time employment or retirement) were manipulated. Overall, female participants reported that they would provide higher levels of support than did male participants, particularly with regard to emotional support. Male participants were more likely than female participants to attend to caregiver employment status when rating their level of instrumental support provision. Gender of the caregiver did not exert an effect. Findings are interpreted in light of gender norms that allocate care of sick family members to women. (Original abstract)

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'Sustaining Place' - a grounded theory of how informal carers of people with dementia manage alterations to relationships within their social worlds

Aims and objectives: This paper presents a theory explaining the processes used by informal carers of people with dementia to mange alterations to their, and people with dementias' relationships with and places within their social worlds.

Background: Informal carers provide the majority of care to people with dementia. A great deal of international informal dementia care research is available, much of which elucidates the content, impacts and consequences of the informal caring role and the coping mechanisms that carers use. However, the socially situated experiences and processes integral to informal caring in dementia have not yet been robustly accounted for.

Design: A classic grounded theory approach was used as it is designed for research enquiries that aim to generate theory illustrating social patterns of action used to address an identified problem.

Methods: Thirty interviews were conducted with 31 participants between 2006–2008. The theory was conceptualised from the data using the concurrent methods of theoretical sampling, constant comparative analysis, memo writing and theoretical sensitivity.

Results: Informal carers' main concern was identified as ‘Living on the fringes’, which was stimulated by dementia-related stigma and living a different life. The theory of ‘Sustaining Place’ explains the social pattern of actions employed by informal carers to manage this problem on behalf of themselves and the person with dementia.

Conclusions: The theory of ‘Sustaining Place’ identifies an imperative for nurses, other formal carers and society to engage in actions to support and enable social connectedness, social inclusion and citizenship for informal carers and people with dementia.

Relevance to clinical practice: ‘Sustaining Place’ facilitates enhanced understanding of the complex and socially situated nature of informal dementia care through its portrayal of informal carers as social agents and can be used to guide nurses to better support those who live with dementia.

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Multicenter randomized controlled trial of an outreach nursing support program for recently discharged stroke patients

Background and Purpose— Many stroke patients and informal carers experience a decreased quality of life after discharge home and are dissatisfied with the care received. We assessed the effectiveness of an outreach nursing care program.

Methods— In a multicenter trial, 536 stroke patients were randomized at discharge to standard care (n=273) or standard care plus outreach care (n=263). The outreach care consisted of 3 telephone calls and 1 home visit within 5 months after discharge by 1 of 13 stroke nurses. Patients were masked for the trial objectives. Six months after discharge, they assessed the 2 primary outcomes: quality of life (Short Form 36 [SF-36]) and dissatisfaction with care. Secondary measures of outcome were disability, handicap, depression, anxiety, and use of health care services and secondary prevention drugs. Informal carers assessed strain, and social support. Analysis was by intention to treat.

Results— Twelve patients died before follow-up, 38 declined outcome assessment, and 486 completed the primary outcome assessments. Outreach care patients had better scores on the SF-36 domain “Role Emotional” than controls (mean difference 7.9 [95% confidence limit, 0.1 to 15.7]). No statistically significant differences were found on the other primary outcome measures. For secondary outcomes, no statistically significant differences were found, except that intervention patients used fewer rehabilitation services (relative risk, 0.66 [0.44 to 1.00]) and had lower anxiety scores (median difference 1 [0.19 to 2.79]).

Conclusions— This outreach nursing stroke care was not effective in improving quality of life and dissatisfaction with care of recently discharged patients.

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Is use of formal community services by older women related to changes in their informal care arrangements?

This paper examines how the relationships between the factors (predisposing, enabling and illness) of the 1973 Andersen framework and service use are influenced by changes in the caring role in older women of the 1921–26 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Outcome variables were the use of three formal community support services: (a) nursing or community health services, (b) home-making services and (c) home maintenance services. Predictor variables were survey wave and the following carer characteristics: level of education, country of birth, age, area of residence, ability to manage on income, need for care, sleep difficulty and changes in caring role. Carer changes were a significant predictor of formal service use. Their inclusion did not attenuate the relationship between the Andersen framework factors and service use, but instead provided a more complete representation of carers' situations. Women were more likely to have used support services if they had changed into or out of co-resident caring or continued to provide co-resident care for a frail, ill or disabled person, needed care themselves, and reported sleep difficulties compared with women who did not provide care. These findings are important because they indicate that support services are particularly relevant to women who are changing their caring role and who are themselves in need of care.

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Patient and carer perceptions of case management for long-term conditions

Nurse-led case management programmes have become increasingly popular over the last 15 years. Countries such as the USA, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands have long running case management programmes in place for frail elderly people. The Department of Health in England has recently introduced a 'community matron' role to provide case management to patients with highly complex long-term conditions; a group that is predominantly comprised of elderly people. Department of Health policy documents do not define the day-to-day role of community matrons but instead describe the objectives and principles of case management for long-term conditions. The aim of this qualitative study was to describe case management from the perspective of patients and carers in order to develop a clearer understanding of how the model is being delivered for patients with long-term conditions. In-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 72 patients and 52 carers who had experience of case management. Five categories of case management tasks emerged from the data: clinical care, co-ordination of care, education, advocacy and psychosocial support. Psychosocial support was emphasised by both patients and carers, and was viewed as equally important to clinical care. Patient and carer perceptions of case management appear to contrast with descriptions contained in Department of Health guidance, suggesting an 'implementation surplus' in relation to the policy. This particularly appears to be the case for psychosocial support activities, which are not described in official policy documents. The provision of significant psychosocial support by community matrons also appears to differentiate the model from most other case management programmes for frail elderly people described in the literature. The findings emphasise the importance of seeking patient and carer input when designing new case management programmes.

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The well-being of young people who care for a dependent relative: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Developing health care systems have placed an emphasis on unpaid, informal care giving from family members as a community health resource. It is estimated that there are between 19,000 and 51,000 young carers in the UK who are at increased risk of physical and psychological ill health. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the personal experiences of young carers in relation to their well-being using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five young carers and the verbatim transcripts served as the data for an IPA. Three themes emerged: (1) what caring means; (2) isolation and distancing from others; and (3) integrating caring. The participants struggled to make sense of caring, found it relentless, overwhelming and frustrating. They experienced stigma, which led to secrecy and withdrawal, cutting them off from their social worlds and the benefit of social support. They actively sought to integrate caring into their emerging sense of self and identity, and derived a sense of pride from caring and used this to combat feelings of uncertainty and isolation.

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Making the Invisible, Visible

The author reflects on the invisibility of young carers in North America. According to the author, these young people are hyper-mature for their age and usually take on adult responsibilities in their families. He says these people sacrifice their childhood to care for family members. Information on support programmes for young carers in North America is provided.

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The role of the home-care worker in palliative and end-of-life care in the community setting: a literature review

The majority of people would prefer to die at home if assured of high quality care and proper support for their families and informal carers. Home-care workers play a vital role in enabling patients to be cared for in their own homes; however, there is a lack of research on their role, focusing specifically on palliative and end-of-life care. A broad literature search was undertaken as part of a research study to explore the role of home-care workers in palliative and end-of-life care in the community. Key questions for the review included: exploring the role of home-care workers; factors that affect this role and examining training and support needs of home-care workers in providing palliative: and end-of-life care in the community. Positive aspects of their contribution were identified in terms of providing physical and social support, and having a key role to play in caring for patients at home. However, several studies highlighted negative aspects of the role, including limited availability of services, lack of continuity of care, time constraints, lack of flexibility and poor quality of communication with other services.

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Physical health concerns of the patient, the family and the carer

Physical health monitoring is crucial in the light of current knowledge about the risks associated with schizophrenia and its treatment. Cooperation between psychiatrists, patients and informal carers can significantly enhance patient wellbeing in this regard. Moreover, an advocacy approach elevates patients from being passive recipients of care to active participants in an integrated system that has outcome benefits for all stakeholders. Considerable progress is being made in this regard, although there is still a long way to go to maximise the benefits of carer involvement in the global management of schizophrenia.

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Emotional reactions and practical problems of the caregivers of hemodialysed patients

BACKGROUND: The international literature consistently shows that the psychosocial outcomes of the informal carers (caregivers) of chronically ill patients are influenced by factors such as personality traits and perceived social support, but few studies have investigated these variables in the caregivers of hemodialysed patients, and the reciprocal experience of chronicity.; METHODS: Fifty hemodialysed patients and their principal caregivers were recruited. They were administered specific questionnaires to evaluate their emotional stability and anxious/depressive reactions, the perceived burden related to the patients' condition, the quality of their family relationships and knowledge of the disease, and the degree of satisfaction with their lives. The study design was correlational and comparative. The data were analysed using Student's t test and Pearson's correlation.; RESULTS: The patients were significantly more anxious and depressed than their caregivers, and had a more negative perception of their family relationships; they also had significantly higher neuroticism scores. Although the caregivers showed good emotional stability and a relatively low level of perceived burden, they stated that their daily lives were not very interesting and involved few social contacts. Twenty-five percent of them declared that they had financial problems; twelve percent also said they had to face problems of disease-related stigma and embarrassment.  CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that emotional stability is an important psychological determinant of perceived distress among the caregivers of hemodialysed patients. Assessing this personality trait and the reciprocal experience of chronicity in patients and caregivers may help nephrology teams identify subjects at major psychological risk, and to select the appropriate psychological support.

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Community relations and child-led microfinance: a case study of caregiving children in Kenya

Rampant levels of AIDS and poverty have made many children in sub-Saharan Africa the primary caregivers of their ageing or ailing guardians. This paper reports on a social action fund initiative that brought caregiving children together to set-up and run income generating activities as a group with the aim of strengthening their coping capabilities. To further our understanding of child-led microfinance activities, this paper explores how intra-community relations can both facilitate and undermine child-led activities, and how these activities in turn can further strengthen some intra-community relations. Twenty-one children (aged 12–17) and six guardians participated in this study. Data included draw-and-write compositions (n=21), essays (n=16), workshop notes and proposals (n=8) and in-depth interviews (n=16). A thematic analysis revealed that the children actively drew on the expertise and involvement of some guardians in the project as well as on each other, developing supportive peer relations that helped strengthen their coping capabilities. However, the children's disenfranchised position in the community meant that some adults took advantage of the child-led activities for their own personal gain. Some children also showed a lack of commitment to collective work, undermining the morale of their more active peers. Nevertheless, both guardians and the children themselves began to look at caregiving children differently as their engagement in the project began to earn them respect from the community – changing guardian/child relations. The paper concludes that microfinance interventions targeting children and young people must consider children's relationships with each other and with adults as key determinants of Project success.

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Support for family carers for an elderly person at home: a systematic literature review

Family carers are a major source of help and assistance to the persons they provide care for. They are also major contributors to the welfare system, balancing the national health care expenditure. Increasing attention, in research as well as government policy, is being paid to their role as informal caregivers. Support to family carers seems to be a new ‘buzzword’ in Swedish Government policy. However, supporting family carers may prove to be a more complex endeavour than one initially might be led to believe. Support could here be understood as any services, assistances, education, information, attitudes, and lay or professional person's provision for the benefit of the family carer. The aim of this systematic review was to identify modes of, and scientific evidence on, support for family carers of cohabiting elderly persons. The method followed a seven-step model: a focused research question was formulated creating a base for deriving search words and inclusion and exclusion criteria for studies. Systematic database searches identified several studies some of which were retrieved, critically appraised and classified by two independent reviewers. A total of 26 articles were finally included, revealing that family carers fear social isolation and wish to network in groups with peers, either for social or for learning needs purposes. Family carers also desire respite care. However, it is unclear whether they actually benefit from any of the above or how service provision should be attempted.

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Time-bound opportunity costs of informal care: Consequences for access to professional care, caregiver support, and labour supply estimates

The opportunity costs associated with the provision of informal care are usually estimated based on the reduced potential of the caregiver to partake in paid work (both in terms of whether they are able to undertake paid work, and if so the hours of work undertaken). In addition to the hours of informal care provided, these opportunity costs are also likely determined by the necessity to perform particular informal care tasks at specific moments of the day. The literature, to date, has largely overlooked this dimension of informal care. We used Dutch data from time use diaries which report patterns of informal care throughout the day which enables investigation of when particular activities are undertaken. We found that whereas some tasks must be performed at a relatively fixed time of day, others are shiftable and can be performed at other times or even on different days. Household and organisation activities are more likely to be undertaken by employed caregivers, and seem largely to be shiftable; whereas personal care contains unshiftable activities. This implies additional opportunity costs of providing personal care tasks – we term these “time-bound” opportunity costs. Since the care recipient’s need for care may in part relate to unshiftable tasks, we conclude that one should be careful with using care need as an instrument of informal care in labour supply equations.

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Mapping support policies for informal carers across the European Union

Background: At a time when health and social care services in European countries are under pressure to contain or cut costs, informal carers are relied upon as the main providers of long-term care. However, still little is known about the availability of direct and indirect support for informal carers across the European Union.

Methods: Primary data collection in all EU member states was supplemented with an extensive review of the available literature.

Results: Various forms and levels of support have been implemented across Europe to facilitate the role of informal caregivers. Financial support is the most common type of support provided, followed by respite care and training. Most countries do not have a process in place to systematically identify informal carers and to assess their needs. Policies are often at an early stage of development and the breadth of support varies significantly across the EU.

Conclusions: Policy developments are uneven across the member states, with some countries having mechanisms in place to assess the needs and support informal carers while others are only starting to take an interest in developing support services. Given the unprecedented challenges posed by population ageing, further research and better data are needed to capture and monitor information on informal carers, to help design adequate support policies and eventually to evaluate their impact across the EU.

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Effect of perceived stigmatisation on the quality of life among ageing female family carers: a comparison of carers of adults with intellectual disability and carers of adults with mental illness

BACKGROUND: Little account has been taken of quality of life (QoL) among family carers of adults with an intellectual disability (ID) and family carers of adults with a mental illness (MI), particularly the female ageing carers' perceived stigma. We explore whether there are differences in the significant predictors of female ageing family carers' QoL between family carers of adults with ID and family carers of adults with MI and aim to examine the effect of these differences in stigma on carer QoL between the two groups.

METHODS: A structural survey interview was administered to 350 female family carers supporting persons with ID and 66 female carers supporting persons with MI; the carers were aged 55 years and older, and the interviews were carried between July 2006 and April 2007 at the carers' homes in a county in Taiwan. The survey package contained standardised scales to measure the carer's stigma, social support, QoL and health as well as adult and carer socio-demographic data.

RESULTS: The results highlight that in both groups the ageing female family carers' health and social support were strongly associated with the level of their QoL even though there was also a strong effect of carers' perceived stigma on their QoL. Contrary to previous findings, ageing female family carers of adults with MI had a higher level of QoL compared with the carers of adults with ID. Hierarchical regressions show a stronger effect of perceived stigma on the carer QoL among the family carers of adults with MI than among the carers of adults with ID.

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that attempts to improve these female older family carers' health and social support must include their lifelong unmet needs in terms of how to cope with the perceived stigma associated with their position.

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Social factors and depression in carers of people with dementia

Research has highlighted the influence of psychosocial factors on the wellbeing of carers of people with dementia. This study aimed to investigate the interrelationships between life events, depression and social support in carers of people with dementia. Participants were 72 carers of people with dementia. They were interviewed using the Bedford College Life Events and Difficulties Schedule and the Geriatric Depression Scale. The results showed that 31 (43%) of carers were depressed. Factors associated with depression in carers were a lack of confiding relationship, depression in the person with dementia, and living with the person with dementia. Carers of people with dementia appear more vulnerable to depression in the context of the caring experience rather than threatening life events.

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Palliative care for heart failure in Greece

While few palliative care units are available for cancer patients in big cities of Greece, this specialized care is generally unavailable for non-cancer patients. No protocols are in use and the use of advance directives and discussions around euthanasia still represents a taboo subject for Greek families. Patients will receive standard hospital care but not necessarily psychological or social support. Terminal patients will rather finish their life in a hospital bed, a tendency that has accentuated these last decades. The family is generally present and regulates hospital admittance, home care and end-of-life decisions. The presence of well-trained and multi-professional teams is very scarce and expensive. Informal carers guided by the family often assume the basic care while medical care is provided in hospitals on an outpatient base or through house calls of privately installed doctors of different specialties. Very few geriatricians are available in Greece. (C) 2010 Elsevier Masson SAS and European Union

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Support needs of carers of dependent adults from a Bangladeshi community

AIM: This paper reports a study identifying the health and social care needs of informal carers for dependent adult relatives from a Bangladeshi community in South Wales and their views on the acceptability and appropriateness of formal support services provided by statutory, private and voluntary sectors.

BACKGROUND: Within the next 20 years in the United Kingdom the proportion of older people from black and ethnic minority communities will dramatically increase and there will be an increased demand for carers. Asian carers, particularly Bangladeshi carers, are one of the most neglected and invisible groups. As carers are fundamental to the success of community care and their importance is increasingly recognized, caregiving within Asian communities needs further exploration.

METHODS: A qualitative study with individual focused interviews was conducted with 20 Bangladeshi carers, using a combination of purposive and snowball sampling. Maxwell's dimensions of acceptability and appropriateness of quality of care were applied to aid understanding of the findings.

FINDINGS: Families primarily cared for Bangladeshi dependent adults and viewed the experience positively, although they were providing care under challenging circumstances. There was a lack of awareness of the health and social services available to assist carers, and limited involvement of community nursing and social services. A tension was identified in accepting some types of formal support, and ethnocentrism in service provision was evident.

CONCLUSION: Institutional barriers to accessing formal support, such as the inability to meet religious and cultural needs, must be addressed if Bangladeshi carers are to be provided with services which are acceptable to them. Primary care providers, including community nurses and health visitors, need to work in partnership with the Bangladeshi community if services are to be acceptable and appropriate for meeting the needs of these hidden carers.

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The impact of caring on caregivers' mental health: a review of the literature

This paper provides a brief overview of the literature on the impact of caring on the mental health of informal caregivers in the areas of aged care, disability and mental health. Factors discussed that may impact on caregivers' mental health include the relationship between the caregiver and care recipient, the nature of the care recipient's disability and the stage of the caregiving process. Several moderators of the impact of caring on mental health are described, including socio-economic factors, social support and coping strategies. This information provides a context within which to examine the type of interventions appropriate to assist caregivers in various situations. 

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Informal Caregivers and the Risk of Nursing Home Admission Among Individuals Enrolled in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

PURPOSE: We sought to determine whether participants in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) with an informal caregiver have a higher or lower risk of nursing home admission than those without caregivers.

DESIGN AND METHODS: We performed a secondary data analysis of 3,189 participants aged 55 years or older who were enrolled in 11 PACE programs during the period from June 1, 1990 through June 30, 1998. Cox proportional hazard models determined whether having any caregiver, as well as specific caregiver characteristics, such as either living separately from the enrollee, being over the age of 75 years, providing personal care, not reducing or quitting work to provide care, or not being a spouse, predicted time to nursing home admission.

RESULTS: Fewer than half of the participants (49.4%) lived with a caregiver, and 12.4% had no caregiver. Individuals who lived with their caregiver were frailer than either those who lived separately or those without a caregiver. We measured frailty in terms of functional and cognitive status, incontinence, and multiple behavioral disturbances. The presence of a caregiver did not change the risk for institutionalization. None of the caregiver characteristics were associated with a higher risk of nursing home admission.

IMPLICATIONS: Unlike individuals in the general population, participants in PACE who lack an informal caregiver are not at higher risk of institutionalization. Further research is required to ascertain whether PACE's comprehensive formal services compensate for the lack of informal caregiving in limiting the risk for institutionalization.

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Quality of life of Australian family carers: implications for research, policy and practice

As part of an international, multicentered project, the burden of care, health, and subjective well-being experienced by select Australian family carers supporting a relative with disability at home were investigated. Some 448 family carers residing in New South Wales and Tasmania completed a battery of instruments, including a self-report demographic survey, the Family Caregiver Burden Inventory, the General Health Questionnaire, and the Personal Wellbeing Index. Respondents were predominantly females (mean age = 48 years), married, and supporting a son or daughter with an intellectual disability (mean age = 18 years). Although caring for their family member was not perceived to be a burden, respondents reported notable limitations on their social networks and social activities. They reported higher levels of unemployment than would be expected for the general population and were over represented in lower income groups. They reported seriously low levels of mental health and personal well-being when compared with the general population. The findings revealed that this group of family carers were at high risk of social and economic disadvantage and at high risk of mental health challenges. Social policy makers and service providers should take these factors into account, both in the interests of promoting the health and well-being of the carers and considering the long-term needs of family members with disability who rely on family carers for daily support when designing services.

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Grandmothers and caregiving to grandchildren: continuity, change, and outcomes over 24 months

Purpose: Transitions in caregiving, such as becoming a primary caregiver to grandchildren or having adult children and grandchildren move in or out, may affect the well-being of the grandmother. Design and Methods: This report describes caregiving patterns at 3 time points over 24 months in a sample of 485 Ohio grandmothers and examines the effects of stability and change in grandmother caregiving roles (raising a grandchild, living in a multigenerational home, or not caregiving to grandchildren). Drawing on the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, the study examined caregiving stress and reward, intrafamily strain, social support, resourcefulness, depressive symptoms, mental and physical health, and perceived family functioning. Caregiver group, time of measurement, switching between caregiver groups, and baseline age, race, education, work status, and marital status were considered as independent variables within the context of a one-way treatment structure in a mixed-model multivariate analysis. Results: There were significant caregiver group effects for all variables, except mental health and resourcefulness. Grandmothers raising grandchildren reported the most stress, intrafamily strain, and perceived problems in family functioning, the worst physical health and more depressive symptoms, and the least reward and subjective support. Across groups, there were significant time effects, with worsening physical health and increased stress over time. Switching to higher levels of caregiving was associated with worsening physical health and increases in stress, intrafamily strain, and perceived problems in family functioning. Implications: Recommendations for research and for practice, especially during times of caregiving transition or for grandmothers raising grandchildren, are discussed.

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People with dementia living alone: what are their needs and what kind of support are they receiving?

Background: In the U.K. about 141,460 people with dementia (PWD) live alone. They are at risk of social isolation and inadequate social and medical supervision. The aims of this study were to identify the needs of PWD living alone and to compare the needs of PWD living alone versus those living with others. It was predicted that PWD living alone would have significantly more unmet needs than those living with others.; Methods: 152 PWD were interviewed about their cognitive status and quality of life (QoL); and 128 informal carers were interviewed about the PWD's QoL, social networks, behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPSD), functional status, and services used. For 24 PWD no carer was available. Carers were also interviewed about their own symptoms of depression, anxiety, burden, and satisfaction. Researchers rated PWD's needs. One-third of the PWD (50) were living alone.; Results: PWD living alone had significantly more unmet needs (M = 3.9, s.d. 3.1) than those living with others (M = 2.0, s.d. 2.0) (U = 1578, p < 0.01) particularly in the areas of looking after home (χ2 = 17.23, p < 0.001), food (χ2 = 13.91, p < 0.002), self-care (χ2 = 10.23, p < 0.002) and accidental self-harm (χ2 = 16.51, p < 0.001). The most frequent unmet needs were daytime activities (27, 54.0%), company (26, 52.0%), psychological distress (22, 44.0%), eyesight/hearing (16, 32.0%), and accidental self-harm (16, 32.0%). Conclusion: PWD living alone are a vulnerable group who are at increased risk for unmet social, environmental, psychological and medical needs. This study illustrates the need to identify these individuals and to make provisions among social service agencies to monitor their well-being regularly and provide a higher level of support when needs are identified.

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The internet as social support for older carers of adults with intellectual disabilities

Social support is a potentially powerful mediator of well-being for family carers. Given that social engagement often decreases with age, the Internet broadens the opportunities for aging carers of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to provide support to one another. This article reviews what constitutes social support, its importance to older adults, and more specifically carers of those with I/DD. Computer and Internet usage by older adults is briefly reviewed. The Internet as a medium for facilitating social support and support groups for carers is discussed. The role of the Internet in the lives of people with I/DD is also briefly reviewed. The literature review, compiled from a literature search of PubMed, Science Direct, PsycInfo, OvidSP, and CINAHL databases, revealed that there is a relative paucity of information regarding support on the Internet for aging carers, particularly for aging carers for people with I/DD. The review also revealed the utility of the Internet to be utilized as a medium for social support groups. The authors noted that aging adults can acquire new technological abilities and cognitive benefits when learning new skills. Both older adults and individuals with I/DD benefit when web sites are attentive to layout and usability. The authors suggest that Internet-based aging carer support groups that also incorporate educational content should be developed. Although many research questions remain about the design of Internet-based carer groups, web sites that appeal to both carers and individuals with I/DD for peer support and information are interesting avenues for further investigation.

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Social support mediates the association between benefit finding and quality of life in caregivers

The psychosocial pathways underlying associations between benefit finding and quality of life are poorly understood. Here, we examined associations between benefit finding, social support, optimism and quality of life in a sample of 84 caregivers. Results revealed that quality of life was predicted by benefit finding, optimism and social support. Moreover, the association between benefit finding and quality of life was explained by social support, but not optimism; caregivers who reported greater benefit finding perceived their social support be higher and this, in turn, had a positive effect on their overall quality of life. These results underscore the importance of harnessing benefit finding to enhance caregiver quality of life.

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The Gender Informal Care Gap A fuzzy-set analysis of cross-country variations

This article investigates the relationship between the 'gender informal care gap' - the relative contributions of women to informal care for non-co-resident relatives and other members of social networks, compared to men - and public care policies, level of care needs, labour market position and gendered care attitudes. Since the literature suggests that none of these factors alone can explain the gender informal care gap, we develop a model based on fuzzy-set/qualitative comparative analysis in order to identify patterns in the relationship between the factors. The analysis conducted at the macro-national level in 13 European countries, suggests that at the macro-level, the availability of public care services is crucial to understanding the gender informal care gap, while women's labour market position, the presence or absence of gendered care attitudes and the level of care needs play no or a relatively minor role.

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Emotional over-involvement can be deleterious for caregivers' health: Mexican Americans caring for a relative with schizophrenia

The study of emotional over-involvement (EOI) has focused primarily on its relationship with patients' course of illness. The authors know little about the predictors and possible consequences of EOI for caregivers. Based on past research, they tested the hypotheses that EOI is associated with worse physical and psychological health among caregivers and examined whether caregiver burden and social support may mediate this relationship. In a sample of 37 Mexican American caregivers and their ill relatives recruited from two outpatient clinics, the authors examined the relationships between EOI, caregiver burden, caregivers' level of social support, and caregivers' health. Additionally, they examined whether caregiver burden and social support may mediate the relationship between EOI and caregivers' health. Cross-sectional analysis indicates that at baseline EOI was not associated with caregiver burden or social support, but was related to worse current health. Longitudinal analysis, however, indicates that EOI at baseline was associated with greater burden, less instrumental support, and worse health among caregivers at follow-up. Moreover, objective burden and instrumental support mediated the relationship between EOI and several health outcomes. Consequently, EOI may be a marker of poor current health status and predicts worse future health among Mexican–American caregiving relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. Moreover, changes in burden and social support associated with EOI appear to mediate the relationship between EOI and several health outcomes among caregivers. These findings suggest that it might be important for family interventions to not only address the functioning of individuals with schizophrenia but also their caregiving relatives.

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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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Exploring the collective hospice caregiving experience

Background: Collective caregiving, performed by caregivers working in pairs (informal primary and secondary caregivers working together), is common in the hospice setting. Research suggests that caregiving pairs may experience different caregiver outcomes. However, little is known about how caregiving pairs differ from solo caregivers (informal primary caregivers) on outcome measures.

Objective: The goal of this study was to determine whether being in a caregiver pair affected caregiver anxiety and depression and how outcomes changed over time.

Design: A mixed model analysis was used.

Setting/subjects: Hospice caregivers (260 solo caregivers and 44 caregivers in 22 pairs) who participated in a larger, randomized controlled trial completed caregiver measures upon hospice admission and periodically until the death of the patient or hospice decertification.

Measurements: Measured were caregiver quality of life, social support, anxiety, and depression.

Results: Caregiver pairs had higher anxiety and depression scores than solo caregivers. Emotional, financial, and physical quality of life were associated with decreased depression, whereas only emotional and financial quality of life were correlated with lower levels of anxiety. Social support was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Conclusions: Despite assumptions that social support is positively facilitated vis-a-vis collective caregiving, caregiving pairs may be at higher risk for anxiety and depression. Future research is needed to address why individuals become anxious and/or depressed when working as part of a caregiving pair.

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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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Everyday experiences of parents with disabled children

The family is a space for learning that is in constant renewal and enrichment. However, when one of its members has a disability, the family plays a major role in the daily reconstruction of the intimate and social life of its members. And as ageing is inevitable, parents are constantly worried about who will take care of their children. Children become increasingly more dependent as parents face physical limitations in caring for their children. A qualitative descriptive exploratory study using a phenomenological approach was carried out to answer the initial question: “Do parents of adult children with disabilities experience specific needs?” Based on this methodology, data were collected through semi-structured interviews with five elderly parents caring for their disabled children and attending the CEFPI (Centre for Integrated Vocational Education and Training). Results indicate that these parents live for their children, which is inherent to a moderate level of care dependence for self-care functions such as personal hygiene, walking, dressing and undressing. They care for the children by themselves, and they feel alone in their role.

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Caregiver’s spirituality and its influence on maintaining the elderly and disabled in a home environment

This study examined the role that faith-based organizations play for caregivers in maintaining the elderly and disabled in their homes. The study explored if persons who use religious beliefs and practices cope with caregiver stress better than those who do not use religious beliefs and practices. The study also explored the role of religious coping as a factor affecting decisions to institutionalize, and the role that faith-based practices and organizations play in helping caregivers maintain the elderly and disabled in their homes.

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A systematic review of telehealth tools and interventions to support family caregivers

We conducted a systematic review of studies employing telehealth interventions which focused on family caregivers’ outcomes. The Embase, CINHAL, Cochrane and PubMed databases were searched using combinations of keywords including “telehealth,” “telemedicine,” “telecare,” “telemonitoring,” “caregiver” and “family.” The initial search produced 4205 articles, of which 65 articles met the inclusion criteria. The articles included 52 experimental studies, 11 evaluation studies, one case study and one secondary analysis. Thirty-three articles focused on family caregivers of adult and older patients, while 32 articles focused on parental caregivers of paediatric patients. The technologies included video, web-based, telephone-based and telemetry/remote monitoring. Six main categories of interventions were delivered via technology: education, consultation (including decision support), psychosocial/cognitive behavioural therapy (including problem solving training), social support, data collection and monitoring, and clinical care delivery. More than 95% of the studies reported significant improvements in the caregivers’ outcomes and that caregivers were satisfied and comfortable with telehealth. The review showed that telehealth can positively affect chronic disease care, home and hospice care.

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Improving psychosocial outcomes for caregivers of people with poor prognosis gastrointestinal cancers: a randomized controlled trial (Family Connect)

This study investigated the effectiveness of a structured telephone intervention for caregivers of people diagnosed with poor prognosis gastrointestinal cancer to improve psychosocial outcomes for both caregivers and patients. Caregivers of patients starting treatment for upper gastrointestinal or Dukes D colorectal cancer were randomly assigned (1:1) to the Family Connect telephone intervention or usual care. Caregivers in the intervention group received four standardized telephone calls in the 10 weeks following patient hospital discharge. Caregivers' quality of life (QOL), caregiver burden, unmet supportive care needs and distress were assessed at 3 and 6 months. Patients' QOL, unmet supportive care needs, distress and health service utilization were also assessed at these time points. Caregivers (128) were randomized to intervention or usual care groups. At 3 months, caregiver QOL scores and other caregiver-reported outcomes were similar in both groups. Intervention group participants experienced a greater sense of social support (p = .049) and reduced worry about finances (p = .014). Patients whose caregiver was randomized to the intervention also had fewer emergency department presentations and unplanned hospital readmissions at 3 months post-discharge (total 17 vs. 5, p = .01).  Conclusions: This standardized intervention did not demonstrate any significant improvements in caregiver well-being but did result in a decrease in patient emergency department presentations and unplanned hospital readmissions in the immediate post-discharge period. The trend towards improvements in a number of caregiver outcomes and the improvement in health service utilization support further development of telephone-based caregiver-focused supportive care interventions.

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Social networks, befriending and support for family carers of people with dementia

Social networks are seen to influence the use of health and social care services. In a secondary analysis of data from a longitudinal study of befriending of carers of people with dementia, the authors studied the relationship between network type and support from family/friends, voluntary sector befriending and residential/nursing care. Using Wenger's typology of social networks, finding suggest that the pattern of support use varies by differences in the structure of networks. It is recommended that questions on social networks should be widely incorporated into carers' assessments to help identify need for social support interventions and to enable the sensitive selection of appropriate types of carer support to be provided.

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Ecomapping: an innovative research tool for nurses

AIM: This paper explores the use of ecomaps as a research tool for capturing data, using the example of the dynamic nature of social networks from which informal carers of people living with motor neurone disease draw their support. BACKGROUND: The need for social support in relation to health maintenance and disease management has been identified in the literature but little has been published about ways to investigate support networks. Existing discussion in the literature about the use of ecomaps as a clinical tool in social work creates a valuable framework for data collection which can be readily adapted by nurse researchers. METHOD: We used ecomaps as part of a repertoire of research tools to gather data about the social networks of carers of people living with motor neurone disease. Primary carers participated in three interviews and collaborated in ecomap construction over a period of 10 months during 2003. Analytical correlations were made between ecomaps and interview data. 

Findings.  Ecomaps provided a visual means of facilitating discussions around the structure and strength of networks. Being able to represent the social networks visually through ecomapping enabled people to identify each member of the network, examine the strength of each relationship and ascertain the sources of nurture and tension over time. Limitations to this type of data collection arise when participants try to quantify relationships that have been visually produced.

Conclusion.  Ecomapping is a valuable research tool because it provides visual representation of supportive care networks, capturing strategic data through symbols expressing relationships that may be inadequately portrayed in words. The ecomap incorporates the use of consistent symbols that standardize recipient responses, enabling data comparisons to be made.

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Elder abuse : a systematic review of risk factors in community-dwelling elders

Objective: to undertake a systematic literature review of risk factors for abuse in community-dwelling elders, as a first step towards exploring the clinical utility of a risk factor framework. Search strategy and selection criteria: a search was undertaken using the MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and PsycINFO databases for articles published in English up to March 2011, to identify original studies with statistically significant risk factors for abuse in community-dwelling elders. Studies concerning self-neglect and persons aged under 55 were excluded. Results: forty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria, with 13 risk factors being reproducible across a range of settings in high-quality studies. These concerned the elder person (cognitive impairment, behavioural problems, psychiatric illness or psychological problems, functional dependency, poor physical health or frailty, low income or wealth, trauma or past abuse and ethnicity), perpetrator (caregiver burden or stress, and psychiatric illness or psychological problems), relationship (family disharmony, poor or conflictual relationships) and environment (low social support and living with others except for financial abuse). Conclusions: current evidence supports the multifactorial aetiology of elder abuse involving risk factors within the elder person, perpetrator, relationship and environment.

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Young carers as co-designers of a web-based support system: the views of two publics

Aim: The aim of the study was to reveal young carers' views of design of a web-based support system (WBSS) directed to them and the differences between their views and the views of project representatives (PRs), in a participatory design process.

Methods: Eight young people, 17–24 years, were involved in either a work or a test group. The work group participated in video-recorded design meetings with representatives of the project. Content analysis and Dewey's concept of public were applied on the data. The test group worked from their homes and data were collected via test forms and used as supplemental data.

Results: Four themes were revealed, constituting key parts in the design of the WBSS: Communicating the messageIdeational working principlesUser interaction and User interface. Furthermore, decisive differences between the views of participants and PRs were found.

Conclusion: The four key parts should be considered in a WBSS directed to young carers. The study also suggests that early user involvement and critical reflection in the design process itself may be crucial to discern differences in perspective between designers and users.

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Support network transformations in the first stages of the caregiver's career

The purpose of this article is to propose a method to facilitate analysis of the processes involved in the transformation of support networks for caregivers of persons with dementia. The authors are particularly interested in the preliminary phases of the caregiver's career: the initial period ranging from the first manifestations of dementia to the confirmation of a diagnosis. This method combines the social network approach with narratice analysis. The authors discuss two cass to illustrate the concepts of density and clique to explain the maintenance and dissolution of the caregiver's supportive relationships. This method shows significant potential, in that it will help researchers explore social mechanisms related to the development of supportive relationships.

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De Caf: a meeting place and therapeutic resource

Penny Redwood, Diana Robinson and Jane Price describe the development of a dementia cafe in Leeds – a meeting place where people with dementia and their carers can spend an enjoyable time, share problems and obtain information and support

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Factors associated with family caregivers' burden and depression in Korea

This study determines the relative effects of functional impairment, cognitive impairment, and duration of care of the elderly on caregivers' depression, and identifies the factors that influence this relationship. The variables were entered individually, based on a logical order in the path modeling. For mediators, the order of three types of social support was assumed to be financial support, instrumental support, and emotional support. The order of five dimensions of caregiver burden was assumed to be impact on finances, feelings of abandonment, impact on schedule, impact on health, and sense of entrapment. Findings indicate that functional impairment had both direct and indirect effects on caregiver depression, and direct effects on impact on schedule, impact on health, and sense of entrapment. The effect of cognitive impairment on caregiver depression was primarily indirect but had direct impact on sense of entrapment. Duration of care had no direct effect on caregiver depression and burden, but did have indirect effects on impact on finances, feelings of abandonment, and impact on health through emotional support. Caregivers of elders with functional impairment were more likely to give care for longer periods, and those who give care for longer periods were likely to receive less emotional support and experience more burden in the dimensions of impact on finances, feelings of abandonment, and impact on health. Caregivers who experience greater impact on finances and impact on health ultimately were at higher risk of depression. The results have important implications for intervention models aimed to increase emotional support for the caregiver.

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The effect of caregiver support interventions for informal caregivers of community-dwelling frail elderly : a systematic review

INTRODUCTION: Informal caregivers are important resources for community-dwelling frail elderly. But caring can be challenging. To be able to provide long-term care to the elderly, informal caregivers need to be supported as well. The aim of this study is to review the current best evidence on the effectiveness of different types of support services targeting informal caregivers of community-dwelling frail elderly. METHODS: A systematic literature search was performed in Medline, PsychINFO, Ovid Nursing Database, Cinahl, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and British Nursing Index in September 2010. RESULTS: Overall, the effect of caregiver support interventions is small and also inconsistent between studies. Respite care can be helpful in reducing depression, burden and anger. Interventions at the individual caregivers' level can be beneficial in reducing or stabilizing depression, burden, stress and role strain. Group support has a positive effect on caregivers' coping ability, knowledge, social support and reducing depression. Technology-based interventions can reduce caregiver burden, depression, anxiety and stress and improve the caregiver's coping ability. CONCLUSION: Integrated support packages where the content of the package is tailored to the individual caregivers' physical, psychological and social needs should be preferred when supporting informal caregivers of frail elderly. It requires an intense collaboration and coordination between all parties involved.

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CarerSupport - An Innovative Approach to Informal Carers' Training and Collaboration

EU and national policies for long-term care acknowledge the role of informal carers. However, there is still little adequate support to prepare or ease informal carers in terms of training to allow them improve their skills, alleviate psychosocial stress and maintain their own health and well-being. In the CarerSupport project, we seek to integrate services, deploy and test an integrated ICT platform enabling participation and collaboration of informal carers, psychologists and health professionals to collaborate, facilitate training and orientation, offer tele-consulting services and psychosocial support to carers. Based on this platform and its content, we will deploy and report on informal carers' experiences with the wide range of offered service. The poster will present the first experiences and suggest potentials for a service like CarerSupport.

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A cuppa in the country

The author, a community mental health nurse, describes the setting up of a dementia cafe in a rural area. Some of the aims and objectives of the cafe were to provide social opportunities for those living with dementia and their carers; provide activities to stimulate memories of those living with dementia; provide an opportunity for carers to share problems. Challenges and future changes are also discussed.

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Thai stroke patient caregivers: Who they are and what they need

Background and Purposes: Primary informal caregivers play a significant role in providing care to stroke survivors after having been discharged from the hospital. Our aims were to describe the characteristics of Thai stroke caregivers and to explore their needs while providing care to their stroke relatives. Methods: Using open-ended questions, we individually interviewed 20 caregivers of stroke survivors to identify their characteristics and their own needs. Additional field notes were made during all interviews. Results: Our findings revealed that the majority of Thai informal stroke caregivers in this study were female, mostly daughters, with the exception of 2 Thai primary stroke caregivers found to be nieces. The majority of caregivers provided care to their stroke relatives 24 h per day. The four major categories of informal rehabilitation were: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual rehabilitation activities. Assistance, information and social support were the three main needs of the caregivers. Conclusion: Based on these findings, appropriate nursing information and assistance focusing on rehabilitation and stroke caregivers’ needs should be provided to Thai stroke caregivers performing informal care to ensure that both patients and caregivers have the best possible quality of life.

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What does ‘neighbourhood’ mean for carers of people with dementia?

Richard Ward, Andrew Clark and Matthew Hargreaves outline the findings of a study that looked at how carers of people with dementia relate to their neighbourhood, and the implications that has for improving local support

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Relations between social support, appraisal and coping and both positive and negative outcomes in young carers

This study examined a stress/coping model of adjustment in early caregiving. It was hypothesized that better adjustment would be related to higher social support and approach coping, and lower stress appraisals and avoidant coping. One hundred young carers aged 10-25 years completed questionnaires. Predictors included choice in caregiving, social support, stress appraisal and coping. Dependent variables were global distress and positive outcomes (life satisfaction, positive affect, benefits). Correlations supported all hypothesized relations between the stress/coping predictors and adjustment outcomes. Regression analyses showed social support as the strongest predictor of adjustment, whereas coping and choice in caregiving emerged as weaker predictors and stress appraisal was unrelated to adjustment. The stress/coping framework and findings have the potential to inform interventions designed to promote well-being in young carers. Copyright © 2007 SAGE Publications Ltd.

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Risk Factors for Developing Prolonged Grief During Bereavement in Family Carers of Cancer Patients in Palliative Care: A Longitudinal Study

Context: Family carers of palliative care patients report high levels of psychological distress throughout the caregiving phase and during bereavement. Palliative care providers are required to provide psychosocial support to family carers; however, determining which carers are more likely to develop prolonged grief (PG) is currently unclear.

Objectives: To ascertain whether family carers reporting high levels of PG symptoms and those who develop PG disorder (PGD) by six and 13 months postdeath can be predicted from predeath information.

Methods: A longitudinal study of 301 carers of patients receiving palliative care was conducted across three palliative care services. Data were collected on entry to palliative care (T1) on a variety of sociodemographic variables, carer-related factors, and psychological distress measures. The measures of psychological distress were then readministered at six (T2; n=167) and 13 months postdeath (T3; n=143).

Results: The PG symptoms at T1 were a strong predictor of both PG symptoms and PGD at T2 and T3. Greater bereavement dependency, a spousal relationship to the patient, greater impact of caring on schedule, poor family functioning, and low levels of optimism also were risk factors for PG symptoms.

Conclusion: Screening family carers on entry to palliative care seems to be the most effective way of identifying who has a higher risk of developing PG. We recommend screening carers six months after the death of their relative to identify most carers with PG.

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Reading, writing and responsibility: Young Carers and Education

Across Australia, teachers, school counsellors and psychologists, welfare officers and Education department staff participated in the project by offering advice to the research team, by completing surveys and participating in focus group interviews. The research team would like to thank those who offered their time, experience and knowledge. In particular, we would also like to acknowledge the generosity, wisdom and insight of all the children and young people who participated in the project. It is hoped that this report will shed some light on their experiences at school and will lead to greater understanding and supportwithin the community.
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The experience of partners of young stroke survivors

Purpose. Stroke is a health crisis that can prompt a re-organisation of lives and impact on family caregivers. This study extends existing findings by investigating the experiences of partners of young stroke survivors (under 60 years old) two to seven years post-stroke. Method. Semi-structured interviews with seven partners were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results. Two super-ordinate themes emerged, 'Adjustment' and 'Coping'. The first consists of two subordinate themes; 'Changed lives' describes the way in which the impact of the stroke was played out in many areas of the partners lives, whereas 'Enduring effects on the self' highlights the psychological consequences of these changes. 'Coping' refers to the ways in which partners adapt to life post-stroke. Conclusions. The study extends knowledge by demonstrating the enduring effects of caring on domestic tasks, relationship with survivor, family roles, employment and social life. Trauma from the stroke event and its immediate aftermath persisted over years. Caring impacted on the partners' sense of self and identity, and positive as well as negative effects were noted. Coping was primarily problem-focussed and previous experiences, social comparison and social support were important. Implications for community support services are discussed.

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Quality of life among older people in Sweden receiving help from informal and/or formal helpers at home or in special accommodation

The present study describes and compares quality of life (QoL) and factors which predict QoL among people aged 75 years and over who receive help with activities of daily living (ADLs) from formal and/or informal helpers. The subjects were living at home or in special accommodation in Sweden. A postal questionnaire was sent to a randomly selected and age-stratified sample of 8500 people. The response rate was 52.8% (n = 4337), and 1247 people [mean age (± SD) = 86.4 ± 5.9 years] received help and indicated who helped them with ADLs. The findings suggest that a greater age, being a woman, being a widow/widower, a higher number of health-related complaints, needing more help with ADLs and a lower QoL were found among those receiving help in special accommodation in comparison with those receiving help at home. The extent of help was highest among those receiving help in special accommodation. Having help with ADLs every day at home indicated having help from both informal and formal helpers, while respondents receiving help from only informal or only formal helpers received the smallest amount of help with ADLs. A need for greater help with ADLs, and a higher number of self-reported diseases and complaints determined low QoL, whilst a social network (contact with more than three people) and a greater age determined high QoL. However, who the helpers were did not have a significant influence on QoL; it was the extent of help with ADLs that influenced QoL negatively and the density of the social network that influenced QoL positively.

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When dementia is in the house: needs assessment survey for young caregivers

To learn more about the needs and experiences of young carers for patients of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in order to create a relevant support website for young caregivers to dementia patients.

Two focus groups were held with a total of fourteen young carers aged 11-18. The data corpus was collected through a semi-structured interview facilitated by a medical journalist who had prior experience as a caregiver to a patient with FTD. The transcripts were narrowed to a dataset for descriptive analysis using a coding scheme to reveal the main themes of their responses.

Seven overlapping theme areas were: emotional impact of living with a parent with FTD, caregiving, coping, symptoms, diagnosis, relationships, and support. Based on the participants' responses, a website was launched providing supportive information and counsel for young carers.

Young carers saw the experience of caring for a parent with early-onset dementia as positive overall, but identified opportunities for professionals to assist them in overcoming stigma and the challenge of balancing childhood and adolescent development within this context.

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Who cares for the carers? The district nurse perspective

Background. Community care of elderly and disabled people is increasing. Primary care teams are expected to provide support to the informal carers essential for its success.

Objective. To explore district nurse (DN) views about roles of the primary care team and what is needed for support of informal carers.

Method. A qualitative analysis of open-ended questions contained in a larger postal questionnaire.

Results. DNs viewed improved respite care, general support and information provision as priorities for supporting carers, and lack of resources and access as the main reasons why they could not be more active. They thought other team members might be better placed to take that role. GPs were seen as key members of the primary care team providing services, actively identifying carers and co-ordinating other services and team members.

Conclusion. DNs identified several areas of support for carers that could be improved: respite, information provision and general support services. They did not feel able to be pro-active in support of informal carers themselves and viewed the GP in that role as a central co-ordinator of care and services.

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Health-related Quality of Life in caregivers of patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). A Greek review

The consequences of spinal cord injury (SCI) not only affect patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) but also extend to the entire family. The health condition the injury imposes requires the participation of a family caregiver, who will be responsible for taking care of the individual in a disabling condition. This is an observational, exploratory study using a cross-sectional design that aimed to study the association between HRQoL and gender, age, presence of comorbidities, and characteristics of the care among caregivers of individuals with SCI with the purpose of identifying potential factors that are associated with HRQoL in this population. Participants were 59 caregivers of individuals with traumatic SCI. The data were collected by consulting the patient histories and applying questionnaires. To assess the caregivers' HRQoL, the Short Form-36 was used. For analysis, exploratory and inferential statistics were used. Most of the caregivers of the individuals with SCI were female, with a mean age of 44.8 years. The domains that most contributed to a worse HRQoL were physical aspects, pain, vitality, and emotional aspects. No statistically significant associations were found between HRQoL and the variables gender, hours per day spent on care, and length of activity as caregiver. The associations between HRQoL and self-reported diseases and age were statistically significant. The results support the planning of nursing interventions from the perspective of aspects of the care demands, which can affect the caregiver's HRQoL.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Interventions to prepare the individuals with SCI and their caregivers are a strategy aimed at improving the HRQoL of both.

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Navigating health and care: living independently with long term conditions: an ethnographic investigation: interim findings

An evaluation exploring the lives of older people living with multiple long term conditions, assessing how well the health and care system is meeting their needs. The evaluation heard the views of 36 patients, family members and carers in order to gain an insight into their experiences of living with and managing their long term conditions and the care they receive. The key findings of the evaluation include: people greatly value the care and support they receive from the NHS and the wider health and care sector, and in the main feel the care they receive is good; however, they often feel the system is not set up to cope with their multiple and complex needs; people with more than one long term condition struggle to coordinate them all and they can feel there is no support linking all of their conditions and focusing on them personally and holistically; they can feel that they are a burden within their home as well as within the health and care system, which can prevent them seeking the help and support they need; and too often, there is an absence of discussion about care and care needs, within the home and within the health care system. (Edited publisher abstract)

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How do informal caregivers of patients with cancer cope: A descriptive study of the coping strategies employed

Purpose: A trend exists towards moving from the hospital and caring for the patients with cancer at home, which has directed the burden of caring to the family. As a result the numbers of informal caregivers, who assumed the care of their loved ones, has increased rapidly. The aim of the study is to explore the ways that families use to cope with the stressors and hardships of caregiving and expand the knowledge about coping.

Methods: This is a descriptive research design, with the use of a convenience sample of 130 dyads. Consenting patients identified their primary family caregiver who was asked to participate in the study.

Key results: The majority of the caregivers employed emotionally focused ways of coping with the caregiving burden such as: “I was hoping for a miracle” (mean 2.19), “I was hoping that time would change things and simply waited” (mean 2.14) and “I found consolidation in my faith to God” (mean 2.05). Assertive ways of coping such as “I expressed my anger to the patient” (mean 0.78) and “I dared to do something risky” (mean 0.98) were less likely to be used by the caregivers.

Conclusions: Findings are consistent with those of previous research that informal caregivers experience substantial psychological morbidity in the form of depression in addition to caregiver burden when they assume the role of the informal caregiver. Caregivers employ various strategies in order to cope with the strains associated with the complex physical and emotional demands involved in caring.

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Does befriending by trained lay workers improve psychological well-being and quality of life for carers of people with dementia, and at what cost? A randomised controlled trial

Objectives: To determine whether a social support intervention (access to an employed befriending facilitator in addition to usual care) is effective compared with usual care alone. Also to document direct and indirect costs, and establish incremental cost-effectiveness.

Design: The Befriending and Costs of Caring (BECCA) trial was a cost-effectiveness randomised controlled trial. Data on well-being and resource use were collected through interviews with participants at baseline and at 6, 15 and 24 months.

Setting: This research was carried out in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, and the London Borough of Havering. It was a community-based study.

Participants were family carers who were cohabiting with, or providing at least 20 hours' care per week for, a community-dwelling relative with a primary progressive dementia.

Interventions: The intervention was 'access to a befriender facilitator' (BF). BFs, based with charitable/voluntary-sector organisations, were responsible for local befriending schemes, including recruitment, screening, training and ongoing support of befriending volunteers, and for matching carers with befrienders. The role of befrienders was to provide emotional support for carers. The target duration for befriending relationships was 6 months or more.

Main outcome measures: Depression was measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) at 15 months postrandomisation. The health-related quality of life scale EQ-5D (EuroQol 5 Dimensions) was used to derive utilities for the calculation of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs).

Results: A total of 236 carers were randomised into the trial (116 intervention; 120 control). At final follow-up, 190 carers (93 intervention; 97 control) were still involved in the trial (19% attrition). There was no evidence of effectiveness or cost-effectiveness from the primary analyses on the intention-to-treat population. The mean incremental cost per incremental QALY gained was in excess of 100,000 pounds, with only a 42.2% probability of being below 30,000 pounds per QALY gained. Where care-recipient QALYs were included, mean incremental cost per incremental QALY gained was 26,848 pounds, with a 51.4% probability of being below 30,000 pounds per QALY gained. Only 60 carers (52%) took up the offer of being matched with a trained lay befriender, and of these only 37 (32%) were befriended for 6 months or more. A subgroup analysis of controls versus those befriended for 6 months or more found a reduction in HADS-depression scores that approached statistical significance (95% CI -0.09 to 2.84).

Conclusions: 'Access to a befriender facilitator' is neither an effective nor a cost-effective intervention in the support of carers of people with dementia, although there is a suggestion of cost-effectiveness for the care dyad (carer and care recipient). In common with many services for carers of people with dementia, uptake of befriending services was not high. However, the small number of carers who engaged with befrienders for 6 months or more reported a reduction in scores on HADS depression that approached statistical significance compared with controls (95% CI -0.09 to 2.84). While providing only weak evidence of any beneficial effect, further research into befriending interventions for carers is warranted.

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The effectiveness of an Internet support forum for carers of people with dementia: a pre-post cohort study

Background: The well-being of informal carers of people with dementia is an important public health issue. Caring for an elderly relative with dementia may be burdensome and stressful, and can negatively affect the carer’s social, family, and professional life. The combination of loss, the physical demands of caregiving, prolonged distress, and biological vulnerabilities of older carers may compromise their physical health, increase social isolation, and increase the risk of anxiety and depressive disorders. Caregiver stress is also linked to negative outcomes for the recipient of care and costs to society, including increased nursing home and hospital admissions. Consequently, carer support interventions are an important component of dementia care. Computer-mediated carer support offers a range of potential advantages compared to traditional face-to-face support groups, including accessibility and the possibility of tailoring to meet individual needs, but there has been little research on its effectiveness so far.

Objective: This mixed-methods study examined the impact of a well-respected UK-based online support forum for carers of people with dementia.

Methods: A total of 61 new forum users completed measures of anxiety (7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, GAD-7), depression (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ-9), and quality of relationship with the person with dementia (Scale for the Quality of the Current Relationship in Caregiving, SQCRC), at baseline and again after 12 weeks of forum usage, within a pre-post design. In addition, 8 participants were interviewed about their experiences with using the forum.

Results: There was an improvement in the quality of the relationship with the person with dementia (SQCRC: P=.003). There was no change in users’ depression (PHQ-9) or anxiety (GAD-7) over the 12-week study period. Interview participants reported a range of positive experiences and benefits from using the forum. Limited negative experiences were also reported.

Conclusions: Many of the reported experiences and benefits are unique to online peer support. Further research into online peer support for carers of people with dementia is needed to clarify who benefits under what conditions.

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Psychological interventions for carers of people with dementia: a systematic review of quantitative and qualitative evidence

Rationale: Carers of people with dementia experience significant levels of stress in their everyday role. The National Dementia Strategy in England identifies the key role that carers play in supporting people with dementia living at home, often to the detriment of their social, emotional and physical health.

Aims: To add to the substantive knowledge-base by combining search criteria used by Pinquart and Sörensen (2006) and Gallagher-Thompson and Coon (2007) to update the literature on psychological interventions for carers of people with dementia published between 2005 and 2011.

Method: Following the study inclusion criteria, comprehensive searches were conducted using the electronic databases Medline, PsycINFO, ERIC, and PubMed. Twenty studies were identified, graded and synthesised into the reported systematic review with both quantitative and qualitative studies included to maximise practice application.

Results: Consistent with previous findings, three categories of psychological intervention were identified: (i) psychoeducational-skill building (n=8); (ii) psychotherapy-counselling (n=1); (iii) multicomponent (n=6). Our review also identified a fourth intervention category, (iv) technology-based (n=5). The majority of studies in the updated review examine the constructs of depression, burden, social support and well-being. The development of focused interventions for carers, whether individually tailored interventions or group interventions around a common issue, was significant for developing practice. Future studies across all categories should continue to embed supervision arrangements within their psychological intervention protocols.

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Older carers in the UK: who cares?

Long-term care in the UK relies heavily on informal and unpaid carers. Statistical data regarding the number of carers in the 2001 Census compared with the 2011 Census identify an increase of around 600 000 carers. It is also significant that many of these carers are themselves in their late middle age. The reasons for taking on the caring role are varied, but there are significant potential physical, mental and financial issues associated with taking on the caring role. Positive benefits in terms of support provision for the carer do exist, but support services across the UK are variable. This article outlines the problems that may be faced by carers and provides directions for future developments and research into how this situation might be improved.

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Information needs of families when one member has a severe brain injury

Despite calls for health and social services to respond to the needs of informal carers, there is little evidence to guide practioners in the best way to provide support and/or information in situations of complex need such as brain injury. This study addressed such an intervention in a prospective descriptive study, using both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Eighty-nine patients who had been admitted to a regional neurorehabilitation unit for management of traumatic or haemorrhagic brain injuries were consecutively discharged to the community over a period of 12 months. Eighty-two of these people identified a carer who agreed to be interviewed at approximately six weeks after discharge regarding their concerns. The study identified that even soon after discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, carers wanted more information. In many cases the need for information was unrelated to either the severity of injury or level of functional deficit. In addition, requests for information were in many cases not sought spontaneously, but required prompting. Such findings have implications if interventions in this field are to have the optimum chance of succeeding in providing support and assistance.

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'So that's how I found out I was a young carer and that I actually had been a carer most of my life'. Identifying and supporting hidden young carers

A common theme in the literature on care-giving is the issue of ‘hidden’ carers, that is, people who undertake caring roles and responsibilities, yet do not identify themselves as carers. One reason people do not recognise themselves as carers relates to the nature of the caring relationship. When providing care for a family member, intra-familial bonds of love and reciprocity do not encourage parties to view the relationship as anything other than a ‘normal’ familial relationship. The lack of self-identification amongst young carers is complicated further by societal norms surrounding care-giving. Whereas adults are expected to provide care to other adults and children, young people are not expected to be care-givers but rather care recipients. As a result, many young carers remain ‘hidden’ and beyond the reach of services and supports designed to help them in their caring role. This paper draws on qualitative research with young carers and service providers to explore the issue of self-identification amongst young carers. The paper concludes with recommendations for identifying and supporting hidden young carers.

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Chaos and uncertainty: the post-caregiving transition

Caregiving is one of the most important personal sacrifices family members make for their older loved ones. There are at least 43.5 million caregivers in the United States who provide informal family caregiving, averaging about 19 hours of care per week, for an average of 4 years.1 Although family members, especially spouses and adult children, usually occupy these caregiving roles, in diverse cultural and ethnic groups with collectivistic values, caregivers also may be fictive kin (relatives not related by blood, such as godchildren, family friends, or neighbors).

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How can we improve support for carers?

Seeks views on a new strategy for carers that will set out how more can be done to support them:

Informal carers (also called unpaid carers) are people who look after family members, friends, neighbours or others because of long-term physical or mental ill health or disability, or care needs related to old age. This does not include any activities as part of paid employment. Carers freely give their time and energy to support friends or family members and many rightly take pride in providing essential support for those close to them. Caring for others should not be to the detriment of the carer’s own health and wellbeing and carers can receive support in a number of ways – including from social services, the NHS, or the benefit system. We think that we need a new strategy for carers setting out how we can do more. One which reflects their lives now, the health and financial concerns they have, and gives them the support they need to live well whilst caring for a family member or friend. To help us develop the strategy, we want to hear from carers, those who have someone care for them, business, social workers, NHS staff and other professionals that support carers.

It’s a simple question but it can have a lot of different answers – how can we improve support for carers?

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Confidence boost for carers

The Caring with Confidence scheme, launched in April 2009, is described. The scheme had been designed to improve support for carers in England over 18 by equipping them with skills to help them in their role. The scheme operates group sessions and online interactive sessions on subjects such as the emotions involved in caring for someone and how to develop coping strategies.

The author examines how a government-backed scheme is helping to give carers the skills to sustain them in their roles.

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Knowledge and information needs of informal caregivers in palliative care: a qualitative systematic review

Objectives: To review current understanding of the knowledge and information needs of informal caregivers in palliative settings. Data sources: Seven electronic databases were searched for the period January 1994–November 2006: Medline, CINAHL, PsychINFO, Embase, Ovid, Zetoc and Pubmed using a meta-search engine (Metalib®). Key journals and reference lists of selected papers were hand searched. Review methods: Included studies were peer-reviewed journal articles presenting original research. Given a variety of approaches to palliative care research, a validated systematic review methodology for assessing disparate evidence was used in order to assign scores to different aspects of each study (introduction and aims, method and data, sampling, data analysis, ethics and bias, findings/results, transferability/generalizability, implications and usefulness). Analysis was assisted by abstraction of the key details of each study into a table. Results: Thirty-four studies were included from eight different countries. The evidence was strongest in relation to pain management, where inadequacies in caregiver knowledge and the importance of education were emphasized. The significance of effective communication and information sharing between patient, caregiver and service provider was also emphasized. The evidence for other caregiver knowledge and information needs, for example in relation to welfare and social support, was weaker. There was limited literature on non-cancer conditions and the care-giving information needs of black and minority ethnic populations. Overall, the evidence base was predominantly descriptive and dominated by small-scale studies, limiting generalizability. Conclusions: As palliative care shifts into patients’ homes, a more rigorously researched evidence base devoted to understanding caregivers knowledge and information needs is required. Research design needs to move beyond the current focus on dyads to incorporate the complex, three-way interactions between patients, service providers and caregivers in end-of-life care settings.

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Support for Alzheimer's caregivers

Objective: Information on the shortened, 20-item version of the Perceived Social Support Scale (S-PSSS) is scarce. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the psychometric properties of the S-PSSS Family (SSfa) and Friends (SSfr) subscales. Method: Because of their common coping method of social support, a cross-sectional sample of Alzheimer’s caregivers was relevant for this evaluation. Self-reported data were collected from 229 participants at two caregiver conferences.Results: Factor analysis on each measure indicated a three-factor solution with all items loaded. Reliability was satisfactory. Correlational analyses and odds ratios indicated preliminary construct validity for SSfa and SSfr. Conclusion: The S-PSSS subscales appear to be psychometrically appropriate for potential use in appraising family and friend support among Alzheimer’s caregivers.

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Happy and excited despite heavy caring commitment

This article focuses on a 2007 survey by "Community Care" which found that almost half of young carers will spend a number of hours caring for another member of their family on Christmas Day. Forty-six per cent of young carers have not talked to a social worker in the last year about the support they need, according to the survey of 109 young carers aged eight-16 in Great Britain. The survey also revealed reluctance among young carers to want more professional support.

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An exploration looking at the impact of domiciliary and day hospital delivery of stroke rehabilitation on informal carers

Objectives: To explore the impact of two methods of post-hospital stroke rehabilitation on both carers' perceptions of the health services offered and their quality of life.

Setting: East Dorset Health Authority.

Subjects: Forty-six informal carers were recruited from a sample of 106, initially identified from stroke patients participating in a larger randomized controlled trial.

Design: Qualitative methods.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were used at baseline and six months to explore carers' perception of a good therapy, the advantages and disadvantages of the different services and their fulfilment with the services. In-depth thematic analysis was carried out to explore the impact of the two different methods of service delivery on carers' quality of life.

Results: Day hospitals provided carers with respite opportunities, whilst domiciliary stroke teams provided carers with better educational opportunities to be involved in therapy. No qualitative difference was found in the impact that the different services had on carers' quality of life, which were influenced by factors such as the degree of disruption that caring had on their lives, the loss of a shared life and the availability of social support. Ultimately, carers saw the services as providing benefit for survivors and not themselves.

Conclusions: Domiciliary stroke teams provided informal stroke carers with skills that could help improve postdischarge stroke rehabilitation amongst stroke survivors. Informal carers also benefited from the respite elements of day hospital. A mixed model using both domiciliary care and day hospital care, could provide carers with the benefits of education, convenience and respite.

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How family carers view hospital discharge planning for the older person with a dementia

This study reports on the experiences of 25 family carers of the hospital discharge planning process for their family member with a dementia. Analysis of the data indicates that the needs of family carers were not always addressed in the hospital discharge process and that discharge planning and execution is in need of improvement.

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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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'I realised that I wasn't alone': the views and experiences of young carers from a social capital perspective

The concept of social capital is very much an ‘adult’ concept, created by adults for adults, with children as the passive recipients of, primarily, parental social capital. The concept has been broken down into three particular subcategories – bonding (getting by), bridging (getting on) and linking (getting around). However, these subcategories equally do not relate readily to children and young people nor to different groups of young people. Young carers, for example, are a hidden population and their circumstances are relatively unknown, not least in terms of their social networks and access to social capital within the confines of their caring role. This article draws on a research study of 20 young carers in Scotland to explore the views and experiences of this particular group about their social networks and experiences of relationships with others, such as the family, friends and teachers. It concludes that young carers tend to keep their friends, family, and community networks separate from each other, and coupled with their perceived resilience and desire for self-sufficiency, this separation and protection of their individual social networks may result in reduced access to social capital in terms of getting on rather than getting by.

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Formal support of stroke survivors and their informal carers in the community: a cohort study

This cohort study, aims to explore formal care provision to stroke survivors and their informal carers in the community in the UK. An initial cohort of 105 cohabitant carers of first-time stroke patients was recruited while the stroke patient was in hospital. Structured face-to-face interviews were carried out with carers prior to discharge of the stroke patient home, at 6 weeks after discharge, and 15 months after stroke. Questionnaires included measures of psychological health (CIS-R), physical health (self-rated health), social well-being (relationship quality and Sarason's social support questionnaire), handicap of the stroke survivor (Oxford Handicap Scale) and formal community support (amount of formal support and carer satisfaction). Multiple services were involved with most survivor–carer pairs (mean 5.4; range 2–9; SD = 1.7), and 74% of carers were satisfied with formal support provided. Number of services decreased with time (5.5 versus 4.1, t = 4.201, d.f. = 52, P < 0.001, 95% confidence interval: 0.71–2.01) but not time allocated. Using stepwise linear regression, service provision early after discharge was predicted by: level of handicap, recruitment centre, carer self-rated health, number of informal supporters and other care commitments. Satisfaction was predicted by quality of informal support and activity restriction. Fifteen months after stroke, predictors of formal care were: level of handicap, quality of informal support and previous caring experience. Predictors of satisfaction were: quality of the relationship between the stroke survivor and carer, age and mood. Quality of services was good, but carers lacked information, had insufficient help and were not consulted enough. Carer distress is common, yet not currently a factor influencing support provision. Formal care provided adapts with time reflecting the importance of quality of support from friends and family rather than quantity of informal supporters. These factors should be taken into consideration when planning and providing formal support for stroke survivors and their carers.

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Older people and falls: health status, quality of life, lifestyle, care networks, prevention and views on service use following a recent fall

Aim and objective.  This study has investigated older people’s experiences of a recent fall, its impact on their health, lifestyle, quality of life, care networks, prevention and their views on service use.

Background.  Falls are common in older people and prevalence increases with age. Falls prevention is a major policy and service initiative.

Design.  An exploratory, qualitative design involving two time points.

Method.  A convenience sample of 27 older people from two primary care trusts who had a recent fall. Taped semi structured qualitative interviews were conducted and repeated at follow up to detect change over time and repeat falls. Data were collected on their experience of falls, health, activities of living, lifestyle, quality of life, use of services, prevention of falls, informal care and social networks. Content analysis of transcribed interviews identified key themes.

Results.  The majority of people fell indoors (n = 23), were repeat fallers (n = 22) with more than half alone when they fell (n = 15). For five people it was their first ever fall. Participants in primary care trust 1 had a higher mean age than those in primary care trust 2 and had more injurious falls (n = 12, mean age 87 years vs. n = 15, mean age 81 years). The majority of non-injurious falls went unreported to formal services. Falls can result in a decline in health status, ability to undertake activities of living, lifestyle and quality of life.

Conclusions.  Local informal care and support networks are as important as formal care for older people at risk of falls or who have fallen. Access to falls prevention programmes and services is limited for people living in more rural communities.

Relevance to practice.  Falls prevention initiatives and services should work with local communities, agencies and informal carers to ensure equitable access and provision of information, resources and care to meet the needs of older people at risk or who have fallen.

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Burden of informal carers of mentally infirm eldery in Lancashire

OBJECTIVES: To compare the burden of supporting demented and non-demented mentally infirm elders in an English community; determine the prevalence of emotional distress in carers and to investigate the relationship between carer well being and duration of care giving.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study of informal carers of the elderly referred to a psychogeriatric service, using a questionnaire investigating carer socio-demography, carer-dependant interpersonal relationship in relation to care giving and care-recipient dependency needs using a modified version of the CADI; and, the 28-item GHQ.

SETTING: Lancashire communities of Fleetwood, Thornton-Cleveleys, Poulton- Le-Fylde and Over-Wyre.

RESULTS: Ninety one (72%) carers of the elderly mentally infirm participated in the study. Carers (n = 48) of the demented experienced significantly more burden, including psychological and physical health problems than carers (n = 43) of the non-demented (P = 0.001). The prevalence of emotional distress in all carers was 42% (dementia supporters = 56%, non-dementia supporters = 26%). Emotional distress in supporters was directly related to the degree of difficulties (particularly lack of private time, loss of control in caregiving tasks, patient behavioural problems) experienced in care giving, and, the degree of patient dependency needs. Carer/patient interpersonal relationship tended to worsen as care giving progressed; however, no significant association was established between duration of care and emotional distress in carers. Out of 51 carers receiving respite admission services, six (12%) considered such admissions as additional burden.

CONCLUSIONS: Carer burden, including psychological and physical health concerns, was comparatively greater in carers of the demented than in carers of the non-demented. Respite care services although beneficial to most care givers, may constitute further burden to some. Factors accounting for these observations are explained. To ameliorate carer burden, measures enabling greateravailability of private time, and, improving care giving skills, should be encouraged.

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Special Needs: Caring for the Older Adult with Down Syndrome

Over the last 30 years, the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically. Significant medical advances have allowed affected persons to be seen more in the hospital setting, making it imperative that nurses understand their health care needs in order to provide positive health outcomes.

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