Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Feeling called to care: a qualitative interview study on normativity in family caregivers' experiences in Dutch home settings in a palliative care context

Feeling called to care: a qualitative interview study on normativity in family caregivers' experiences in Dutch home settings in a palliative care context

Background: Family caregivers, such as partners or other family members, are highly important to people who desire to stay at home in the last phase of their life-limiting disease. Despite the much-investigated challenges of family caregiving for a patient from one's direct social network, lots of caregivers persevere. Objectives: To better understand why, we aimed to specify how normative elements - i.e. what is considered good or valuable - shape family caregivers' experiences in Dutch home settings. Methods: From September 2017 to February 2019, a total of 15 family caregivers, 13 bereaved family caregivers, and 9 patients participated in one-time in-depth interviews. The data were qualitatively analyzed following a grounded theory approach. Results: Central to this study is the persistent feeling of being called to care. By whom, why, and to what? Family caregivers feel called by the patient, professionals entering normal life, family and friends, or by oneself; because of normative elements of love, duty, or family dynamics; to be constantly available, attentive to the patient while ignoring their own needs, and assertive in managing the caring situation. The prospect of death within the palliative care context intensifies these mechanisms with a sense of urgency. Conclusions: Our analysis showed a difference between feeling called upon in the caring situation on the one hand, and how caregivers tend to respond to these calls on the other. Taking into account the inherent normative and complex nature of family caregiving, the pressing feeling of being called cannot - and perhaps should not - simply be resolved. Caring might be something families just find themselves in due to being related. Rather than in feeling called upon per se, the burden of care might lie in the seeming limitlessness to which people feel called, reinforced by (implicit) social expectations. Support, we argue, should enable caregivers to reflect on what norms and values guide their responses while acknowledging that caring, despite being burdensome, can be a highly important and rewarding part of the relationship between partners or family members.

Access source material through DOI
Original source (some source materials require subscription or permission to access)

Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Springer
ISBN/ISSN
1472-684X
Publication Year
2021
Issue Number
1
Journal Titles
BMC Palliative Care
Volume Number
20
Start Page
183