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Relationship continuity and person-centred care in how spouses make sense of challenging care needs

Objectives: Some spouses providing care for a partner with dementia experience continuity in the relationship: Despite the changes that have occurred, the person with dementia and the relationship are felt to be essentially the same as they were before the dementia. Others experience discontinuity: The person and the relationship feel very different. Previous qualitative research has suggested that continuity may be linked with the delivery of more person-centred care. Using a mixed-methods approach, the present study aimed to provide a more robust test of this claim. Method: Twenty-six spousal carers completed the Birmingham Relationship Continuity Measure and the Caregiver Hassles Scale, and took part in an interview about their response to challenging care needs. Attributions about the causes of those needs were extracted from the interviews and coded. Codes referred either to dementia as a cause, or to a range of other causes that reflected a more person-centred focus. A measure of person-centred care was obtained by calculating the percentage of the total number of attributions that fell into these more person-centred categories.  Results: Consistent with the hypothesis that continuity and person-centred care are linked, those who reported greater continuity reported a significantly higher percentage of person-centred attributions. Conclusions: Person-centred care is important for the well-being of those giving and those receiving the care. Little is currently known about how to support families to be more person-centred. The possibility of supporting person-centred care through enhancing the experience of continuity merits investigation.

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
Informa UK ltd
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Journal Titles
Aging & Mental Health
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