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Carers' perspectives on their needs and local authority occupational therapy practice

Unpaid family carers are the main providers of care for older people in the community. Local authority occupational therapists are required by law to assess the needs of such carers in their work, targeting their interventions to support carers' roles. This small qualitative study identified the perceived needs of nine family carers of adults with physical disabilities in one English county, exploring the extent to which these needs were met by local authority occupational therapists.

Data were collected from semi-structured qualitative interviews with nine family carers. These interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using elements of grounded theory methodology. Six varied categories of carers' needs emerged.

Occupational therapists met the participants' needs for practical assistance and information, but not for respite or financial assistance. Regarding support network issues, the participants reported poorly integrated community services and little initial awareness of occupational therapy. Once seen by an occupational therapist, however, they wished to remain ‘on file’ to gain instant access to a valued source of support. The recommendations made include the generation of family carer targeted occupational therapy information resources, ongoing therapist liaison to raise general practitioners' familiarity with local service provision and additional research.

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British Journal of Occupational Therapy

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Social care online
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