Aims: The worldwide phenomenon of an ageing population has considerable consequences for health and health care; leading to greater demand for long-term care and support from families for older relatives. In the UK this, together with the preference for dependent older people to be cared for in the community, has led to the growth of intermediate care services (ICS) that bridge hospital and home offering rehabilitation and care. However, there has been limited in-depth exploration of carer perspectives of these services. This study therefore aimed to explore the impact of ICS on informal carers.
Methods: An overview of UK Government policy on carers is provided to set the context. Qualitative semi-structured interviews, which explored participants’ lives as carers, their daily routine and what caring meant to them, were conducted with 19 informal carers within one ICS in north-west England.
Findings: The ICS was not viewed in isolation; the impact of the ICS on the carer depended on previous experience and quality of health care, involvement in the decision making process, expectations and communication.
Conclusions: A whole systems approach should be encouraged to increase awareness of carers’ experiences and the lasting impact negative experiences can have.