Background In the last decade, the number of patients supported by informal caregivers has substantially increased. In the Italian healthcare context, informal caregivers’ experience of care is a new under-recognized construct, and no assessment tool is available. Measuring caregivers’ experience is important since in Italy the relationship between doctors and patients/relatives is still considered asymmetrical. The current study presented development and initial psychometric properties of the Health Services and Caregiver Experience questionnaire (HSCE), a self-report tool of caregivers’ global experience for inpatient clinical care, including factor structure, reliability and its relations with measures of coping strategies and family strain. Methods The HSCE was administered to a total of 503 informal caregivers of inpatients admitted at an Italian University Hospital (mean age = 48.08 years, SD = 14.82, females = 61.40%). Family Strain Questionnaire-Short Form (FSQ-SF) and Coping Orientations to Problems Experience-New Italian Version (COPE-NVI) were administered to a subgroup of participants. First-grade relatives were 73.10%, whereas 13.20% were second-grade relatives and 13.70% were home-watch caregivers. Results Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses showed a structure with a single factor, which explained 64.80% of the total variance. All the items had salient loadings. In the two subsamples, HSCE had excellent internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.95-0.97). Positive moderate correlations were found between HSCE and FSQ-SF scores (r = 0.45, p < .05), between HSCE and COPE-NVI scale scores, including COPE-NVI positive attitude and COPE-NVI problem solving scores (rs’ range = 0.51-0.57, p < .05). Moreover, a positive large correlation between HSCE and COPE-NVI social support scores emerged (r = 0.72, p < .05). Correlations were not significant between HSCE scores and COPE-NVI turning to religion and avoidance strategies. Conclusions The HSCE resulted to have good psychometric properties. Better caregivers’ experience correlated with stronger family strain but also with better problem solving and social support. The study expanded knowledge on caregiver’s experience in Italy and indicated that HSCE is a valid and reliable tool to measure this under-recognized construct in Italy.