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Informal carers' experiences of caring for a person with heart failure in a community setting

Heart failure (HF) is a life-limiting condition with a poor prognosis and unpredictable disease trajectory. HF brings physical and emotional challenges for patients and their carers. Predominantly the informal carer population consists of older females, however, caring is evolving as longevity increases and complex conditions are becoming more commonplace. Consequently, more men and younger people are contributing to daily care. The aim of this study was to explore the positive as well as negative dimensions of caring in HF across a range of carer characteristics. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with informal carers of people with HF in the UK (median age 71; female 10). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed with the assistance of NVivo10 using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Findings from the study demonstrated that most participants considered caring as integral to their relationships. Dimensions facilitating positivity in caring included compassion, thoughtfulness and understanding. An ability to cope was influenced by a range of attributes including quality of relationships in the carer/patient dyad and with formal social care providers who offered access to tailored and timely information and support. The unpredictable HF disease trajectory influenced the carer experience and enhanced the challenges encountered. The information needs of carers were not always adequately met and younger adult carers expressed particular difficulties with appropriate information and support. Expectations of our informal carer population are increasing and evolving. Health and social care policy requires innovative proposals for the funding and delivery of health and social care that has the contribution made by informal carers at its core.

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Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
John Wiley & Sons
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Health & Social Care In The Community
Volume Number
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