Objective: Individuals who care for a family member or friend at end‐of‐life experience a range of practical and emotional challenges. This paper applies a theoretical framework of personal construct psychology (PCP) to explore carers’ experiences of end‐of‐life care, with a focus on implications for their sense of identity.
Method: Literature searches were conducted through PsycINFO, Medline, PubMed, and Google Scholar for articles published since 2005 with a focus on carer experiences at end‐of‐life. Main themes identified through this literature review were considered in light of PCP theory, with particular attention on the notion of “threat” (i.e., an imminent and comprehensive change in a person's core identity structure). Implications were then drawn for providing practical carer support.
Results: The reviewed literature highlighted carers’ practical challenges at end‐of‐life (e.g., assisting with activities of daily living), emotional challenges (e.g., negotiating the imminent death of a family member or friend), and personal implications (e.g., sudden removal of caring responsibilities).
Conclusions: The constructivist notion of “threat” is a particularly salient concept for end‐of‐life carers as they negotiate the approaching death of a family member or friend. This can have significant ramifications for their sense of identity beyond bereavement. Clinical approaches based on PCP may effectively support end‐of‐life carers to develop identities beyond their caring role as they transition to a life without caring responsibilities.