Aims and objectives: The purpose of our paper was to explore primary caregivers' experience of the way public mental health nurses and other mental health clinicians responded to them as primary carers of older adults with mental illness.
Background: As populations age, the prevalence of mental illness in older adults will increase and the burden of care placed on family carers will intensify. While family carers are essential to the well-being and quality of life of older adults with mental illness, they frequently experience marginalisation from clinicians.
Design: An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was used to inform data collection and analysis.
Method: Individual, semistructured, audio-recorded qualitative interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 30 primary carers.
Results: Two themes were abstracted from the data highlighting carers' contrasting satisfaction with, and delivery of culturally competent care by, clinicians. A third theme, strategies for enhancing carers' experience of care, incorporated carers' suggestions about ways to strengthen their experience of caring.
Conclusion: Although some primary carers had favourable experiences with clinicians, most were dissatisfied and this, in turn, clouded their overall experience of caring.
Relevance to clinical practice: Our findings have implications for the provision of education, ongoing support for, and building the cultural competence of, clinicians about working with carers. They also highlight the need for a change in organisational and practice culture to encompass mutual respect and partnership with carers within the context of the providing person-centred care for carers and older adults with mental illness.