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Complex needs

The following resources examine caring for people who have multiple and/or complex care needs.

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Children with medical complexity: Neglect, abuse, and challenges

This review on recognizing and responding to suspected maltreatment of children with medical complexity is organized around several questions: 1) What is meant by the term, "children with medical complexity?" Does this term represent something distinct from "children with special health care needs," or "children who are medically fragile?" 2) What constitutes medical neglect of children with medical complexity? How can it be distinguished from expected and reasonable shortcomings in the care that can realistically be provided to a child? 3) How can health care providers recognize instances of "medical child abuse" in which the harm results from interventions that health care providers undertake in response to exaggerated or fabricated reports from parents or other family caregivers? 4) What are some of the challenges facing mandated reporters and members of the health care and case planning teams in recognizing and responding to suspected medical neglect or abuse of children with medical complexity? 

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The challenges of caring for children who require complex medical care at home: ‘The go between for everyone is the parent and as the parent that’s an awful lot of responsibility’

Background: Increasing numbers of children with complex health‐care needs are cared for at home by their family. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the challenges experienced by families caring for children who need complex medical care at home.MethodsWe conducted a thematic analysis of eleven in‐depth interviews with parents who carry out specialist medical procedures (eg, enteral feeding, bowel washouts and tracheostomy care) for their children at home. Participants were purposely selected from an existing sample of interviews with parents whose child had abdominal surgery in the first year of life.

Results: We identified three overarching themes: (a) responsibilities of the parent, (b) impact on daily life and (c) the parent journey over time. Parents have substantial responsibilities, including performing medical procedures, managing emergencies (sometimes life‐threatening), co‐ordinating care and advocating for their child. Their responsibilities have an enormous impact on the family: going out of the home becomes a challenge, there are constant constraints on time, parents are sleep‐deprived and there are wider impacts on siblings. The third theme explores the parent journey over time as parents become experts and make sense of the new normal.

Discussion: The burden of care on families caring for children with complex medical needs is much greater than is generally understood by either multidisciplinary health‐care teams or the general public. Families need to be better prepared and supported for the responsibilities they take on and the burden of care needs to be shared by others.

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Two Futures: Financial and Practical Realities for Parents of Living With a Life Limited Child

Today more and more children are living with complex health care needs, many of these children are living with life limiting and/or threatening conditions, some are medically fragile. To live a childhood these children must live in communities and with their families. In most cases this means the child’s carers, their parents, most often their mothers, are required to undertake a great deal of the child’s care. During a project on parental coping I became aware of the ways in which parents were restructuring their working lives in order to meet the demands of the nursing and medical care needs of their children. In this paper I relate the stories we discovered in this qualitative study and discuss the tensions between parental and state’s responsibility for children, carers and the political and cultural rights and responsibilities pertaining to children’s care. I use Margret Urban Walker’s ideas of expressive collaborative morality to argue that the care of life limited and life threatened children should be framed in a negotiation between the state and the carers, both informal and professional. That such an agreement should include a covenant to assist parents and siblings when a child dies to recover and adjust to their loss, in recognition of the work they have performed in caring for the child during their child’s life and their death.

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About my Child: measuring 'Complexity' in neurodisability. Evidence of reliability and validity

Background: About my Child, 26-item version (AMC-26) was developed as a measure of child health 'complexity' and has been proposed as a tool for understanding the functional needs of children and the priorities of families.

Methods: The current study investigated the reliability and validity of AMC-26 with a sample of caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD; n = 258) who completed AMC-26 as part of a larger study on parenting children with NDD. A subsample of children from the larger study ( n = 49) were assessed using standardized measures of cognitive and adaptive functioning.

Results: Factor analysis revealed that a four-component model explained 51.12% of the variance. Cronbach's alpha was calculated for each of the four factors and for the scale as a whole, and ranged from 0.75 to 0.85, suggesting a high level of internal consistency. Construct validity was tested through comparisons with the results of standardized measures of child functioning. Predicted relationships for factors one, two and three were statistically significant and in the expected directions. Predictions for factor four were partially supported. AMC-26 was also expected to serve as an indicator of caregiver distress. Drawing on a sample of caregivers from the larger study ( n = 251) the model was found to be significant and explained 23% of the variance in caregiver depressive symptoms ( R2 = .053, F (1, 249) = 14.06, P < .001).

Conclusions: Based on these observations, the authors contend that AMC-26 may be used by clinicians and researchers as a tool to capture child function and child health complexity. Such a measure may help elucidate the relationships between child complexity and family well-being. This is an important avenue for further investigation.

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Responding to families with complex needs: a national survey of child and family health nurses

Aims: The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which Australian child and family health nurses work with families with complex needs and how their practice responds to the needs of these families. Background. Many families with young children face challenges to their parenting capacity, potentially placing their children at risk of poorer developmental outcomes. Nurses increasingly work with families with mental health problems, trauma histories and/or substance dependence. Universal child health services must respond effectively to these challenges, to address health inequalities and to promote the best outcomes for all children and families.

Design: The descriptive study used cross-sectional data from the first national survey of child and family health nurses in Australia, conducted during 2011. Methods. Survey data reported how often, where and how child and family health nurses worked with families with complex needs and their confidence in nursing tasks.

Findings: Many, but not all, of the 679 respondents saw families with complex needs in their regular weekly caseload. Child and family health nurses with diverse and complex caseloads reported using varied approaches to support their clients. They often undertook additional professional development and leadership roles compared with nurses who reported less complex caseloads. Most respondents reported high levels of professional confidence.

Conclusion: For health services providing universal support and early intervention for families at risk, the findings underscore the importance of appropriate education, training and support for child and family health professionals. The findings can inform the organization and delivery of services for families in Australia and internationally. References

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Needs and preferences of parents of adolescents with multiple and complex needs in residential care

The perspective of parents whose children are in residential care, has received only minor attention in the literature, despite evidence pointing out the value of parental involvement in care delivery for their child. Drawing upon in‐depth interviews with 12 parents of adolescent girls with multiple and complex needs in residential child welfare, this exploratory study describes parents' own needs and preferences with regard to care delivery. Parents wish: (a) to have a true partnership between parents and professionals (involvement), (b) to feel respected by professionals (respect), (c) to have the information and mandate necessary for decision‐making (agency), and (d) to receive consideration and (emotional) support, besides advice on how to handle the challenges their family faces (support). Their plea draws attention to an aspect of the dimension of "parent–caregiver partnership" in family‐centred residential care that deserves more emphasis. Indeed, being attentive to the needs of parents can contribute to the optimization of services for the most vulnerable families. 

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Patient, carer and healthcare professional experiences of complex care quality in multidisciplinary primary healthcare centres: Qualitative study with face-to-face, in-depth interviews and focus groups in five French multidisciplinary primary healthcare c

Objectives: To explore care experiences in multidisciplinary primary healthcare centres from the patients, carers and healthcare professionals perspectives. Methods: This qualitative study used face-to-face, in-depth interviews and focus groups. Patients with multimorbidity monitored by a General Practitioner (GP) and another professional from the health centre were recruited through purposive sampling and included with their carer. They were interviewed together while professionals were interviewed separately. Verbatims were coded with subsequent blind analysis, using an inductive approach, to find aspects and features. The constant comparative method highlighted data consistencies and variations. Participants Twenty-six patients, 23 family carers and 57 healthcare professionals. Setting Five multidisciplinary primary healthcare centres, in France, between March 2017 and December 2018. Results: This unique study grouped perspectives into nine core quality of primary care aspects: having accessible, available, and varied care; feeling welcome and enjoying comfortable, well-equipped, and clean premises; having quality medicotechnical care (medical knowledge and technical skills); having a reliable GP; receiving appropriate care from healthcare professionals other than the GP; maintaining an efficient relationship with healthcare professionals; benefiting from organised and coordinated care; being an informed, supported and involved patient; having an informed, supported and involved carer. New areas of interest include the multidisciplinary nature of the centres, appreciation of other professionals within the centre, medicotechnical dimensions of care and the carer's role in maintaining patient autonomy. Conclusions: This is the first study to interview patients and carers alongside healthcare professionals. This enhanced knowledge improves understanding of these aspects and can guide implementation of evaluation tools that truly reflect patient and carer needs and enable an efficient experience in terms of quality. To address deficiencies in existing questionnaires, the new perspectives found will be added to former aspects to create a comprehensive quality of primary care evaluation tool. Trial registration number: NCT02934711.

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Barriers and facilitators for shared decision making in older patients with multiple chronic conditions: a systematic review

Background: The aim of this study was to describe barriers and facilitators for shared decision making (SDM) as experienced by older patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCCs), informal caregivers and health professionals. Methods: A structured literature search was conducted with 5 databases. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for eligibility and performed a quality assessment. The results from the included studies were summarized using a predefined taxonomy. Results: Our search yielded 3838 articles. Twenty-eight studies, listing 149 perceived barriers and 67 perceived facilitators for SDM, were included. Due to poor health and cognitive and/or physical impairments, older patients with MCCs participate less in SDM. Poor interpersonal skills of health professionals are perceived as hampering SDM, as do organizational barriers, such as pressure for time and high turnover of patients. However, among older patients with MCCs, SDM could be facilitated when patients share information about personal values, priorities and preferences, as well as information about quality of life and functional status. Informal caregivers may facilitate SDM by assisting patients with decision support, although informal caregivers can also complicate the SDM process, for example, when they have different views on treatment or the patient’s capability to be involved. Coordination of care when multiple health professionals are involved is perceived as important. Conclusions: Although poor health is perceived as a barrier to participate in SDM, the personal experience of living with MCCs is considered valuable input in SDM. An explicit invitation to participate in SDM is important to older adults. Health professionals need a supporting organizational context and good communication skills to devise an individualized approach for patient care.

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Palliative medicine family conferences and caregiver psychological distress during prolonged mechanical ventilation

Objectives Little is known about the experience of family caregivers of patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV). We examined the perspectives of caregivers of patients who died after PMV to explore the role of palliative care and the quality of dying and death (QODD) in patients and understand the psychological symptoms of these caregivers. Methods A longitudinal study was performed in five hospitals in Taipei, Taiwan. Routine palliative care family conferences and optional consultation with a palliative care specialist were provided, and family caregivers were asked to complete surveys. Results In total, 136 family caregivers of 136 patients receiving PMV were recruited and underwent face-to-face baseline interviews in 2016-2017. By 2018, 61 (45%) of 136 patients had died. We successfully interviewed 30 caregivers of patients' death to collect information on the QODD of patients and administer the Impact of Event Scale (IES), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale to caregivers. We observed that more frequent palliative care family conferences were associated with poorer QODD in patients (coefficients: -44.04% and 95% CIs -75.65 to -12.44), and more psychological symptoms among caregivers (coefficient: 9.77% and 95% CI 1.63 to 17.90 on CES-D and coefficient: 7.67% and 95% CI 0.78 to 14.55 on HADS). A higher caregiver burden at baseline correlated with lower psychological symptoms (coefficient: -0.35% and 95% CI -0.58 to -0.11 on IES and coefficient: -0.22% and 95% CI -0.40 to -0.05 on CES-D) among caregivers following the patients' death. Caregivers' who accepted the concept of palliative care had fewer psychological symptoms after patients' death (coefficient: -3.29% and 95% CI -6.32 to -0.25 on IES and coefficient: -3.22% and 95% CI -5.24 to -1.20 on CES-D). Conclusions Palliative care conferences were more common among family members with increased distress. Higher caregiver burden and caregiver acceptance of palliative care at baseline both predicted lower levels of caregiver distress after death.

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Meaning of empowerment in peritoneal dialysis: focus groups with patients and caregivers

Background. While peritoneal dialysis (PD) can offer patients more independence and flexibility compared with in-center hemodialysis, managing the ongoing and technically demanding regimen can impose a burden on patients and caregivers. Patient empowerment can strengthen capacity for self-management and improve treatment outcomes. We aimed to describe patients' and caregivers' perspectives on the meaning and role of patient empowerment in PD. Methods. Adult patients receiving PD (n = 81) and their caregivers (n = 45), purposively sampled from nine dialysis units Australia, Hong Kong and the USA, participated in 14 focus groups. Transcripts were thematically analyzed. Results. We identified six themes: lacking clarity for self-management (limited understanding of rationale behind necessary restrictions, muddled by conflicting information); PD regimen restricting flexibility and freedom (burden in budgeting time, confined to be close to home); strength with supportive relationships (gaining reassurance with practical assistance, comforted by considerate health professionals, supported by family and friends); defying constraints (reclaiming the day, undeterred by treatment, refusing to be defined by illness); regaining lost vitality (enabling physical functioning, restoring energy for life participation); and personal growth through adjustment (building resilience and enabling positive outlook, accepting the dialysis regimen). Conclusions. Understanding the rationale behind lifestyle restrictions, practical assistance and family support in managing PD promoted patient empowerment, whereas being constrained in time and capacity for life participation outside the home undermined it. Education, counseling and strategies to minimize the disruption and burden of PD may enhance satisfaction and outcomes in patients requiring PD.

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Managing Home Infusion Therapy

This article is part of a series, Supporting Family Caregivers: No Longer Home Alone, published in collaboration with the AARP Public Policy Institute. Results of focus groups, conducted as part of the AARP Public Policy Institute's No Longer Home Alone video project, supported evidence that family caregivers aren't given the information they need to manage the complex care regimens of family members. This series of articles and accompanying videos aims to help nurses provide caregivers with the tools they need to manage their family member's health care at home. Nurses should read the articles first, so they understand how best to help family caregivers. Then they can refer caregivers to the informational tear sheet-Information for Family Caregivers-and instructional videos, encouraging them to ask questions. For additional information, see Resources for Nurses.

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Feasibility and Efficacy of a Resiliency Intervention for the Prevention of Chronic Emotional Distress Among Survivor-Caregiver Dyads Admitted to the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit A Randomized Clinical Trial

IMPORTANCE To our knowledge, there are no evidence-based interventions to prevent chronic emotional distress (ie, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress [PTS]) in critical care survivors and their informal caregivers. OBJECTIVE To determine the feasibility and preliminary effect of the novel dyadic resiliency intervention Recovering Together (RT) on reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTS among hospitalized patients and their informal caregivers. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This single-blind, pilot randomized clinical trial of RT vs an educational control was conducted among 58 dyads in which either the survivor or caregiver endorsed clinically significant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTS. The study was conducted in the neuroscience intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Data were collected from September 2019 to March 2020. INTERVENTIONS Both RT and control programs had 6 sessions (2 at bedside and 4 via live video after discharge), and both survivor and caregiver participated together. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The primary outcomes were feasibility of recruitment and intervention delivery, credibility, and satisfaction. The secondary outcomes included depression and anxiety (measured by the Hospital Depression and Anxiety Scale), PTS (measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version), and intervention targets (ie, mindfulness, measured by the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised; coping, measured by the Measure of Current Status-Part A; and dyadic interpersonal interactions, measured by the Dyadic Relationship Scale). Main outcomes and targets were assessed at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. RESULTS The 58 dyads were randomized to RT (29 dyads [50.0%]; survivors: mean [SD] age, 49.3 [16.7] years; 9 [31.0%] women; caregivers: mean [SD] age, 52.4 [14.3] years; 22 [75.9%] women) or control (29 dyads [50.0%]; survivors: mean [SD] age, 50.3 [16.4] years; 12 [41.3%] women; caregivers, mean [SD] age, 52.1 [14.9], 17 [58.6%] women). Feasibility (recruitment [76%], randomization [100%], and data collection [83%-100%]), adherence (86%), fidelity (100%; kappa = 0.98), satisfaction (RT: 57 of 58 [98%] with scores >6; control: 58 of 58 [100%] with scores >6), credibility (RT: 47 of 58 [81%] with scores >6; control: 46 of 58 [80%] with scores >6), and expectancy (RT: 49 of 58 [85%] with scores >13.5; 51 of 58 [87%] with scores >13.5) exceeded benchmarks set a priori. Participation in RT was associated with statistically and clinically significant improvement between baseline and postintervention in symptoms of depression (among survivors: -4.0 vs -0.6; difference, -3.4; 95% CI, -5.6 to -1.3; P = .002; among caregivers: -3.8 vs 0.6; difference, -4.5; 95% CI, -6.7 to -2.3; P < .001), anxiety (among survivors: -6.0 vs 0.3; difference, -6.3; 95% CI, -8.8 to -3.8; P < .001; among caregivers: -5.0 vs -0.9; difference, -4.1; 95% CI, -6.7 to -1.5, P = .002), and PTS (among survivors: -11.3 vs 1.0; difference, -12.3; 95% CI, -18.1 to -6.5, P < .001; among caregivers, -11.4 vs 5.0; difference, -16.4, 95% CI, -21.8 to -10.9; P < .001). Improvements sustained through the 12-week follow-up visit. We also observed RT-dependent improvement in dyadic interpersonal interactions for survivors (0.2 vs -0.2; difference, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.0 to 0.8; P = .04). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In this pilot randomized clinical trial, RT was feasible and potentially efficacious in preventing chronic emotional distress in dyads of survivors of the neuroscience intensive care unit and their informal caregivers.

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Experiences of caregiving and quality of healthcare among caregivers of patients with complex chronic processes: A qualitative study

Aim To explore the perceptions of main caregivers regarding caring for chronic complex patients in two different regions of Spain. Background Spain is a country with an ageing population and a high number of people with chronic diseases. It is well known that the role of the caregiver is important to ensure quality of life and appropriate care. Methods Qualitative design using focus groups. Five focus groups, from two different regions, were conducted with 22 caregivers of people with chronic complex diseases to explore their personal experience, examine the quality of care received by the patient and their family and to develop strategies for the improvement of the quality of health care. The focus groups were audio and video recorded. The transcriptions of the focus group sessions were exported to qualitative software analysis MAXQDA 2018.2. The qualitative content analysis was based on different analytical cycles. Results In general terms, caregivers would refer to accepting the care of their family members, but they highlight many negative aspects such as tiredness, lack of help and overload of care. They indicated general satisfaction with the health system but indicated that help was insufficient and that strategies to better address the situations of the complex chronic patient should be improved. The main categories observed were: Conclusions. Complex chronic illnesses are increasingly common at present, generating important consequences on the lives of patients and that of their caregivers. The design of any health strategy for facing the dilemma of chronic illnesses, must necessarily include the vision of the caregivers. • 95% of patients with chronic illnesses live in their home and depend on a caregiver. • Being a caregiver implies a high workload which is assumed in the family context. • Caregivers mostly highlighted the negative impact of caregiving on their physical, mental and emotional health • Health system care for caregivers and chronic patients is still insufficient to meet their needs.

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Education Experiences of Adult Subjects and Caregivers for Mechanical Insufflation-Exsufflation at Home

BACKGROUND: In 2014, the Ministry of Health of Ontario, Canada, approved a program of public funding for specialist-prescribed mechanical insufflation-exsufflation (MI-E) devices for home use by individuals with neuromuscular respiratory insufficiency. Since 2014, 1,926 MI-E devices have been provided, exceeding device-use projections. Few studies describe the initial and ongoing education and support needs of home MI-E users and their family caregivers. This study aimed to explore the requirements of initial and ongoing education and support for MI-E device use, user confidence, and barriers and facilitators to home MI-E. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with new (< 6 months) and established (6-48 months) MI-E users and family caregivers. Device users rated their confidence on a numeric rating scale of 1 (not confident) to 10 (very confident). RESULTS: We recruited 14 new and 14 established MI-E users and caregivers (including 9 dyads), and we conducted 28 interviews. Both new and established users were highly confident in use of MI-E (mean +/- SD scores were 8.8 +/- 1.2 and 8.3 +/- 2.1, respectively). Overall, the subjects were satisfied with their initial education, which consisted of a 1-2 h one-on-one session at home or in the clinic with a device demonstration and hands-on practice. Subjects viewed hands-on practice and teaching of caregivers as more beneficial than written materials. Ongoing support for device use was variable. Most subjects indicated a lack of specific follow-up, which resulted in uncertainty about whether they were using the MI-E device correctly or whether MI-E was effective. Facilitators to device utilization were ease of use, initial training, support from formal or informal caregivers, and symptom relief. Barriers were inadequate education on MI-E purpose, technique, and benefit; lack of follow-up; and inadequate knowledge of MI-E by nonspecialist health providers. CONCLUSIONS: The current model of home M1-E education at initiation meets user and caregiver needs. Better ongoing education and follow-up are needed to sustain the benefits through assessment of MI-E technique and its effectiveness.

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Negative Studies Should Inform Our Research and Care: Engaging Family Members in the Care of the Critically Ill

ICU delirium is a deleterious and pervasive complication of critical illness, occurring in up to 80% of ICU patients ([1]). The reader should conclude from the study by Fiest et al ([11]) that, at this time, the family administered delirium screening tools FAM-CAM and Sour Seven should not replace intensivist administered CAM-ICU or ICDSC. We should understand that the diagnosis of delirium is difficult even with medical training; the recognition of acute delirium may be best identified through individuals most familiar with the patient, albeit with some tools and training. In summary, Fiest et al ([11]) are to be commended on performing a sizable study among critically ill patients to assess the test characteristics of two novel family administered delirium screening tools, the FAM-CAM and Sour Seven. [Extracted from the article]

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Living with Advanced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Qualitative Interview Study with Patients and Informal Carers

The disease trajectory in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterised by a progressive decline in overall function, loss of independence and reduction of health-related quality of life. Although the symptom burden is high and care is often demanding, patients' and informal carers' experiences in living with advanced COPD are seldom described. This study sought to explore patients' and informal carers' experiences in living with advanced COPD and to understand their awareness about palliative care provision in advanced COPD. About 20 patients and 20 informal carers were recruited in a respiratory care service in Southern Switzerland. Semistructured individual interviews with participants were conducted on clinic premises and audio-recorded. Interviews lasted between 35 and 45 min. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Living day to day with COPD, psychosocial dimension of the disease and management of complex care were the main themes identified. Patients and informal carers reported a range of psychological challenges, with feelings of guilt, discrimination and blame. Most of the participants had no knowledge of palliative care and healthcare services did not provide them with any information about palliative care approaches in advanced COPD. The reported psychological challenges may influence the relationship between patients, informal carers and healthcare professionals, adding further complexity to the management of this long-term condition. Further research is needed to explore new ways of managing complex care in advanced COPD and to define how palliative care may be included in this complex care network. 

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Information Seeking Experiences of Family Caregivers of Patients with Persistent Vegetative State: A Qualitative Study

Background: Providing care for patients in Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) by family caregivers without enough training and knowledge may be problematic both for the patients and for the caregivers. Therefore, the present study tries to explain the experiences of family caregivers of patients with PVS of seeking information needed to provide adequate care. Materials and Methods: Twenty two participants, including 17 family caregivers and 5 professional caregivers were enrolled by purposive sampling into this qualitative content analysis study, carried out between 2013 and 2015. Unstructured interviews and field notes were used to gather the data. Data collection was stopped when data saturation was achieved. Data analysis was performed by content analysis based on Graneheim and Lundman's approach. Results: As a result of the analysis of the collected data a main theme emerged labeled as "Seeking constructive education" with three categories including "Neglected requisite education," "Greedy search for useful education" and "Dynamic independence in care." Conclusions: In this study, information seeking by family caregivers of patients with PVS was constructive. Family caregivers insistently sought needed information from various sources. Ultimately, they found these insistent efforts beneficial and fruitful, because their efforts made them independent in providing care for their patients. 

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Impact of social media interventions and tools among informal caregivers of critically ill patients after patient admission to the intensive care unit: A scoping review

Background: The use of social media in healthcare continues to evolve. The purpose of this scoping review was to summarize existing research on the impact of social media interventions and tools among informal caregivers of critically ill patients after patient admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). Methods: This review followed established scoping review methods, including an extensive a priori-defined search strategy implemented in the MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and the Cochrane CENTRAL Register of Controlled Trials databases to July 10, 2020. Primary research studies reporting on the use of social media by informal caregivers for critically ill patients were included. Results: We identified 400 unique citations and thirty-one studies met the inclusion criteria. Nine were interventional trials–four randomized controlled trials (RCTs)–and a majority (n = 14) were conducted (i.e., data collected) between 2013 to 2015. Communication platforms (e.g., Text Messaging, Web Camera) were the most commonly used social media tool (n = 17), followed by social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram) (n = 6), and content communities (e.g., YouTube, SlideShare) (n = 5). Nine studies' primary objective was caregiver satisfaction, followed by self-care (n = 6), and health literacy (n = 5). Nearly every study reported an outcome on usage feasibility (e.g., user attitudes, preferences, demographics) (n = 30), and twenty-three studies reported an outcome related to patient and caregiver satisfaction. Among the studies that assessed statistical significance (n = 18), 12 reported statistically significant positive effects of social media use. Overall, 16 of the 31 studies reported positive conclusions (e.g., increased knowledge, satisfaction, involvement) regarding the use of social media among informal caregivers for critically ill patients. Conclusions: Social media has potential benefits for caregivers of the critically ill. More robust and clinically relevant studies are required to identify effective social media strategies used among caregivers for the critically ill.

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Family Intensive Care Unit Syndrome: An Integrative Review

Background: Hospitalization in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) brings about psychological and physical symptoms in patients' family members. Family Intensive Care Unit Syndrome (FICUS) is a term used to explain the psychological symptoms of the family of a patient in response to the patient's admission to the ICU. The purpose of this study was to define FICUS along with its symptoms and predictors. Materials and Methods: The Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, and SID databases were searched for literature published in 2005-2018 with the keywords "FICUS," "intensive care unit," "family," "caregivers," "anxiety," "depression," and "post-traumatic stress disorder" in their title and abstract. The strategy for conducting an integrative review provided by Whittemore and Knafl (2005) was used in this study. Results: Twenty articles were included in the final data analysis. Following the patient's admission to the ICU, family members experience multiple psychological symptoms such as FICUS. The most commonly reported symptoms were anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complicated grief, sleep disorder, stress, and fatigue. The low education level, having a critically ill spouse, adequate support, financial stability, preference for decision making, understanding of the disease process, anxiety, depression, or previous acute stress were predictors of FICUS. Conclusions: On the basis of the results, families also experience physical symptoms, so the FICUS is not limited to the occurrence of psychological symptoms. This study found that there is no universal definition for the term "FICUS" in the research literature. Thus, further research is needed to explore FICUS in the health field.

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Experiences with making difficult decisions of the family caregivers of patients on prolonged mechanical ventilation: a qualitative study

Background: Family caregivers of patients on prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV) may encounter challenges concerning medical decision-making besides witnessing patient suffering. Palliative care (PC) should be a good support for both patients and caregivers; however, for PMV families, PC is not always a choice through long companion time. This qualitative study clarifies family caregivers' burden of assisting patients on PMV and evaluates the need for PC information and support.; Methods: Interviews were caregivers of patients on ventilator support for more than 60 days in five hospitals of the Taipei City Hospital System. Based on phenomenology, this study was conducted by using a semistructured questionnaire comprising three questions: (I) what was the most crucial moment of deciding to intubate? (II) how would you describe the quality of life of your ventilator-dependent family member? (III) what type of assistance do you expect from the PC team for your ventilator-dependent family member?; Results: Twenty-one caregivers of patients on PMV in five hospitals of the Taipei City Hospital System agreed to participate in face-to-face interviews. The identified themes, including stressful decision-making, companion pain/discomfort, and unwillingness to accept PC, elucidated the difficulties experienced by caregivers when providing care.; Conclusions: Understanding family caregivers' experiences can enable physicians to improve communication with them, encourage the PC team to support them during surrogate decision-making for patients on PMV during critical moments, and enhance the overall PC service.

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An evaluation study of caregiver perceptions of the Ontario's Health Links program

Introduction In 2012, the Ontario government launched Health Links (HL), which was designed to integrate care for patients with multimorbidity and complex needs who are high users of health services. This study evaluated perceptions of family and friend caregivers of patients enrolled in the HL program. Research questions included: What are (a) characteristics of caregivers of patients enrolled in HL (b) caregivers' perceptions of the program in relation to HL's guiding principles (patient and family-centred care, accessibility, coordination of services, and continuity of care and care provider) and (c) caregivers' perceptions of the impact of HL on themselves and their care recipient? Methods This study involved a survey and qualitative, semi-structured interviews. HL guiding principles (patient and family-centered care, accessibility, coordination of services, and continuity) guided the analysis. Results Twenty-seven surveys and 16 qualitative interviews were completed. Caregivers reported high levels of strain [Modified Caregiver Strain Index (MCSI) 15.5 (SD 7.03)], mild anxiety [Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD 7), 9.6 (SD 6.64)] and depression [Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D 10), 11.9 (SD 8.72)]. Regarding the guiding principles, most caregivers had a copy of the HL patient's care plan, although some caregivers noted that their needs were not included in the plan, nor were they asked for input. Caregivers found the program's home and phone visits accessible. Despite minimum wait times for community-based services, other access barriers persisted, (i.e., out-of-pocket costs). HL provided well-coordinated patient services, although some perceived that there was poor team communication. Caregiver perceptions varied on the quality of care provided. Provider continuity provided caregiver relief and patient support: A lack of continuity was related to changes in care coordinators and weekend staff and attrition. Conclusions Caregivers of HL patients appreciated patient- and family-centred, accessible, consistent, coordinated and team-based approaches in care. Providers and decision-makers are urged to ensure that programs aimed at high system users address these core concepts while addressing caregivers' needs.

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Resuming Normal Life as a Family Caregiver During Drip-Like Recovery of Older Persons With Cognitive Impairment Recovering From Hip Surgery: A Grounded Theory

Purpose: This study was undertaken to develop a theoretical framework explaining family caregiving processes for older persons with cognitive impairment recovering from hip fracture surgery. Design and Methods: In this grounded theory study, data were collected in audio-recorded face-to-face interviews with 21 family caregivers. Among these caregivers, 14 cared for hip-fractured persons with cognitive impairment, and seven cared for those without cognitive impairment. Caregivers were interviewed five times after patients’ discharge: at 1 week and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Data were analyzed by constant comparative analysis. Findings: The core category explaining the family caregiving process for hip-fractured persons with cognitive impairment was “resuming normal life during drip-like recovery.” This category captures the slowness of the recovery process, as slow as dripping water. During the early postoperative period, caregivers attempted to gain control of the postoperative situation, using various maintenance and improvement strategies to deal with the chaos in individuals and the family and to protect hip-fractured persons with cognitive impairment from further harm. The goal of recovery was to get back to their original life. Conclusions: Family caregivers of hip-fractured older persons with cognitive impairment needed to deal with more complex chaotic situations, exerted more efforts to administer safety measures, and required more time to achieve a stable life pattern. Clinical Relevance: Since postoperative recovery was perceived as extremely slow, family caregivers of hip-fractured older persons with cognitive impairment should be patient regarding recovery and be informed before hospital discharge of different strategies to resume normal life during postoperative recovery. 

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Quality of life among caregivers of people with end-stage kidney disease managed with dialysis or comprehensive conservative care

Background: To measure health-related and care-related quality of life among informal caregivers of older people with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), and to determine the association between caregiver quality of life and care recipient's treatment type. Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted. Three renal units in the UK and Australia were included. Informal caregivers of people aged ≥75 years with ESKD managed with dialysis or comprehensive conservative non-dialytic care (estimated glomerular filtration (eGFR) ≤10 mL/min/1.73m2) participated. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was assessed using Short-Form six dimensions (SF-6D, 0-1 scale) and care-related quality of life was assessed using the Carer Experience Scale (CES, 0-100 scale). Linear regression assessed associations between care-recipient treatment type, caregiver characteristics and the SF-6D utility index and CES scores. Results: Of 63 caregivers, 49 (78%) were from Australia, 26 (41%) cared for an older person managed with dialysis, and 37 (59%) cared for an older person managed with comprehensive conservative care. Overall, 73% were females, and the median age of the entire cohort was 76 years [IQR 68-81]. When adjusted for caregiver sociodemographic characteristics, caregivers reported significantly worse carer experience (CES score 15.73, 95% CI 5.78 to 25.68) for those managing an older person on dialysis compared with conservative care. However, no significant difference observed for carer HRQoL (SF-6D utility index - 0.08, 95% CI - 0.18 to 0.01) for those managing an older person on dialysis compared with conservative care. Conclusions: Our data suggest informal caregivers of older people on dialysis have significantly worse care-related quality of life (and therefore greater need for support) than those managed with comprehensive conservative care. It is important to consider the impact on caregivers' quality of life when considering treatment choices for their care recipients. 

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Effect of an innovative model of complexity care on family caregiver experience Qualitative study in family practice

Objective To investigate the experiences of family caregivers who participated in an innovative model of interprofessional team-based care specifically designed for elderly patients with complex care needs. Design Qualitative study. Setting Large academic family practice in Toronto, Ont. Participants Family caregivers of elderly patients who had attended the IMPACT (Interprofessional Model of Practice for Aging and Complex Treatments) clinic (N=13). Methods Individual semistructured interviews, which were conducted faceto-face, audiorecorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the constant comparative method. Main findings Family caregivers who attended the IMPACT clinic believed it enhanced caregiver experience and capacity. Caregivers experienced increased validation and engagement with the treatment team. Feelings of isolation were reduced, resulting in increased confidence and greater feelings of empowerment in their caregiver role. Conclusion White the needs and value of caregivers are increasingly acknowledged, health care teams continue to struggle with how to relate to and engage with family caregivers-how best to support them and work with them in the context of their family members' care. Interprofessional teams who adopt the IMPACT model-providing synchronous, real-time interventions that include the caregiver-can facilitate increased caregiver capacity, confidence, and empowerment.

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Patients, caregivers and health‐care professionals’ experience with an interdisciplinary intervention for people with multimorbidity in primary care: A qualitative study

Background Multimorbidity challenges the health‐care system and requires innovative approaches. In 2015, a 4‐month patient‐centred interdisciplinary pragmatic intervention was implemented in primary care with the aim of supporting self‐management for patients with multimorbidity.Objective To explore the perceptions and experiences of health‐care professionals, patients and their caregivers with a 4‐month patient‐centred interdisciplinary pragmatic intervention in primary care.Design A descriptive, qualitative study using semi‐structured interviews was conducted. Setting and participants A purposive sample of 30 participants was recruited from seven family medicine groups including patients, caregivers and health‐care professionals (HCPs). Interviews were analysed using Thorne's interpretive description approach. Results Findings were grouped into the benefits and challenges of participating in the intervention. The programme allowed patients to adopt realistic and adapted objectives; to customize interventions to the patient's reality; and to help patients gain confidence, improve their knowledge, skills and motivation to manage their condition. Interprofessional collaboration eased the exchange of information via team meetings and electronic medical records. Challenges were related to collaboration, communication, coordination of work and integration of newly relocated HCPs mainly due to part‐time assignments and staff turnover. HCPs part‐time schedules limited their availability and hindered patients’ follow‐up. Discussion and conclusion This intervention was useful and rewarding from the HCPs, patients and caregivers’ perspective. However, to ensure the success of this complex interdisciplinary intervention, implementers and managers should anticipate organizational barriers such as availability and time management of relocated HCPs.

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The influence of swallowing impairments as an independent risk factor for burden among caregivers of aging parents: A cross-sectional study

Informal caregivers can experience high levels of burden, negatively impacting both the caregiver and care recipient. The presence of dysphagia (swallowing impairments) in care recipients is suggested to contribute to increased caregiver burden. The purpose of this study was to describe the type and severity of caregiver burden experienced by adults caring for community-dwelling older parents reporting symptoms of dysphagia. Using surveys from the National Health and Aging Trends Study and the National Study of Caregiving, data from 895 adults providing care for an aging parent were analyzed. Binary logistic regression analyses revealed that swallowing difficulties reported by a parent is a significant independent predictor of increased physical and emotional burden in their caregivers. Forty percent or more of these caregivers reported moderate to severe physical and/or emotional burden. Suggestions are provided to identify dysphagia early on and to provide supports for caregivers.

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Support needs and health-related quality of life of family caregivers of patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation and admission to a specialised weaning centre: A qualitative longitudinal interview study

Objectives: Family caregivers of patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation may experience physical and psychological morbidity associated with a protracted intensive care unit experience. Our aim was to explore potentially modifiable support needs and care processes of importance to family caregivers of patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation and transition from the intensive care unit to a specialised weaning centre. Research methodology/design: A longitudinal qualitative descriptive interview study. Data was analysed using directed content analysis. Setting: A 6-bed specialised weaning centre in Toronto, Canada. Findings: Eighteen family caregivers completed interviews at weaning centre admission (100%), and at two-weeks (40%) and three-months after discharge (22%) contributing 29 interviews. Caregivers were primarily women (61%) and spouses (50%). Caregivers perceived inadequate informational, emotional, training, and appraisal support by health care providers limiting understanding of prolonged ventilation, participation in care and decision-making, and readiness for weaning centre transition. Participants reported long-term physical and psychological health changes including alterations to sleep, energy, nutrition and body weight. Conclusions: Deficits in informational, emotional, training, and appraisal support of family caregivers of prolonged mechanical ventilation patients may increase caregiver burden and contribute to poor health outcomes. Strategies for providing support and maintaining family caregiver health-related quality of life are needed. 

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Caring safely at home

This video-based resource is designed to help people look after someone safely at home.

This resource will help you care for people in any situation, although this resource may be particularly useful if you are supporting someone during the COVID-19 crisis.

Each section has a set of videos designed to give you and the person you care for practical and relevant information to support you day to day.

What will the videos cover?

  • how to help manage certain conditions
  • providing everyday support for any person you’re caring for.

There is no set order you need to go through these topics, and some may not apply to your specific situation. Learn at your own pace and choose whichever is relevant to you.

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Experiences and support needs of informal caregivers of people with multimorbidity: a scoping literature review

Objective: Describe and synthesise existing published research on the experiences and support needs of informal caregivers of people with multimorbidity. Design: Scoping literature review. Primary database and secondary searches for qualitative and/or quantitative English-language research with an explicit focus on informal carers of people with multimorbidity (no date restrictions). Quality appraisal of included papers. Thematic analysis to identify key themes in the findings of included papers. Results: Thirty-four papers (reporting on 27 studies) were eligible for inclusion, the majority of which were rated good quality, and almost half of which were published from 2015 onwards. The review highlights common difficulties for informal carers of people with multiple chronic illnesses, including practical challenges related to managing multiple health care teams, appointments, medications and side effects, and psychosocial challenges including high levels of psychological symptomatology and reduced social connectedness. Current gaps in the literature include very few studies of interventions which may help support this caregiver group. Conclusion: Interest in this research area is burgeoning. Future work might fruitfully examine the potential benefits of audio-recorded health care consultations, and digitally delivered psychosocial interventions such as online peer support forums, for supporting and enhancing the caring activities and wellbeing of this caregiver group. 

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Transition from child to adult health services: A qualitative study of the views and experiences of families of young adults with intellectual disabilities

Aims and objectives To explore the experiences of the families of young adults with intellectual disabilities at the point of transition from child to adult health services. Background The population of people with intellectual disabilities is changing rapidly, with young people with increasingly complex needs surviving into adulthood and requiring transition from child to adult health services. Design An interpretative qualitative design. Methods Semi-structured interviews were held with ten family carers of young adults with intellectual disabilities and complex care needs, who were in the process of or had recently completed a transition from child to adult health services in Scotland. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. The COREQ checklist was used. Results Transition emerged as a highly emotional and challenging period for family carers. Their experiences were captured in five main themes: “a deep sense of loss,” “an overwhelming process,” “parents making transitions happen,” “a shock to the adult healthcare system” and “the unbearable pressure.” Nurses were often seen as instrumental to counteracting some of these challenges. Conclusions There is an urgent need to respond to the challenges experienced by carers at the point of transition and beyond, by ensuring early and coordinated planning, effective information sharing and communication and clear transition processes and guidelines. A person-centred and family-centred approach is required to minimise negative impact on the health and well-being of the young adult with intellectual disabilities and their carers. Relevance to clinical practice Registered nurses have a key role in providing information and support, along with coordinating care at the time of transition from child to adult health services for young adults with complex intellectual disabilities. It is vital that their input is person-centred and responds effectively to the expert knowledge of family carers, while at the same time ensuring their needs for information and support are also addressed.

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An Italian pilot study of a psycho-social intervention to support family caregivers' engagement in taking care of patients with complex care needs: The Engage-in-Caring project

Background: The raising of disability and chronic illness burden among European population is calling for a new paradigm of care, focused on primary health care interventions. Engage-In-Caring is a novel multicomponent intervention clearly dedicated to improve family caregiver engagement in the care of patients with complex care needs, by supporting them to develop a stronger consciousness of their role, needs and skills. Method: Engage-In-Caring intervention's efficacy and feasibility have been evaluated through a single arm pre-post observational pilot study settled in Rome. A qualitative phase, consisting of literature analysis of caregivers' unmet needs and a final revision from an experts' group, led to the structuration of the intervention, following the Caregiver Health Engagement Model (CHE-Model). Afterwards, a quantitative phase allowed understanding the feasibility of the intervention through Kruskal-Wallis test on a sample of 47 caregivers. Results: Results showed a reduction of the physical burden (Chi Squared = 6,483; p =.01) perceived by the caregivers and increase of the health literacy (Chi Squared = 3,560; p =.059) after the intervention. Conclusions: Feasibility tests on caregivers of patients with complex care needs are promising: this pilot study suggests a first effectiveness evidence, particularly concerning aspects related to burden perception and improvements in health literacy. Randomised controlled trials on larger samples are needed.

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Remembering Sleep: Sleep Deprivation and Symptom Management at Home

Carter focuses on sleep deprivation and symptom management at home. Family caregivers provide increasingly complex care at home to family members and friends with cancer. Care that was once provided in the hospital by skilled, highly educated, and often advanced certified oncology nurses is now being provided in the home by family caregivers who are most often not in possession of these skill sets. With the advancement of therapies and delivery methods such as oral therapies and outpatient infusions, cancer care has moved out of the hospital and into the community. A unique contribution of nursing science to the understanding of human experiences is that we holistically evaluate biopsychosocial contributors to those experiences.

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Enhancing & Mobilizing the POtential for Wellness & Emotional Resilience (EMPOWER) among Surrogate Decision-Makers of ICU Patients: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Background: Critical illness increases the risk for poor mental health outcomes among both patients and their informal caregivers, especially their surrogate decision-makers. Surrogates who must make life-and-death medical decisions on behalf of incapacitated patients may experience additional distress. EMPOWER (Enhancing & Mobilizing the POtential for Wellness & Emotional Resilience) is a novel cognitive-behavioral, acceptance-based intervention delivered in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting to surrogate decision-makers designed to improve both patients' quality of life and death and dying as well as surrogates' mental health. Methods: Clinician stakeholder and surrogate participant feedback (n = 15), as well as results from an open trial (n = 10), will be used to refine the intervention, which will then be evaluated through a multisite randomized controlled trial (RCT) (n = 60) to examine clinical superiority to usual care. Feasibility, tolerability, and acceptability of the intervention will be evaluated through self-report assessments. Hierarchical linear modeling will be used to adjust for clustering within interventionists to determine the effect of EMPOWER on surrogate differences in the primary outcome, peritraumatic stress. Secondary outcomes will include symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, prolonged grief disorder, and experiential avoidance. Exploratory outcomes will include symptoms of anxiety, depression, and decision regret, all measured at 1 and 3 months from post-intervention assessment. Linear regression models will examine the effects of assignment to EMPOWER versus the enhanced usual care group on patient quality of life or quality of death and intensity of care the patient received during the indexed ICU stay assessed at the time of the post-intervention assessment. Participant exit interviews will be conducted at the 3-month assessment time point and will be analyzed using qualitative thematic data analysis methods. Discussion: The EMPOWER study is unique in its application of evidence-based psychotherapy targeting peritraumatic stress to improve patient and caregiver outcomes in the setting of critical illness. The experimental intervention will be strengthened through the input of a variety of ICU stakeholders, including behavioral health clinicians, physicians, bereaved informal caregivers, and open trial participants. Results of the RCT will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and serve as preliminary data for a larger, multisite RCT grant application. Trial registration:, NCT03276559. Retrospectively registered on 8 September 2017.

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Years of caregiving for chronically ill and disabled family members is not associated with telomere length in the Philippines

Background Caring for chronically disabled family members is a stressful experience. In turn, psychosocial stress is linked to premature aging. Telomere length (TL) is a plastic genetic trait that is a biomarker of aging, and a possible mechanism linking psychosocial stress and accelerated aging. Methods TL was measured using qPCR method from blood samples in 1233 Filipino adults from Cebu, Philippines. Caregiving was measured as chronicity of care, or the sum total number of years an individual was the primary caregiver for any household member with a chronic illness or disability. Linear regression models were used to test for associations between chronicity of care and TL. Interaction terms were used to test whether or not the association between chronicity of care and TL differed by sex, age, and relationship to the caregiver. Specific statistical designs were publicly pre-registered before analysis began. Results Chronicity of care was not associated with TL. Neither did we find any evidence for caregiving varying in its effect on TL by caregiver sex, age, or relationship to the chronically ill/disabled. Conclusions We found no evidence of an association between chronicity of care and TL. This result coupled with a recent study of a similarly sized cohort suggests that previous significant results linking caregiving and TL may be due to very particular types of caregiving populations or are possibly artifacts of small sample sizes. 

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Patient and carer experience of blended diet via gastrostomy: a qualitative study

Background: Home enteral feeding is becoming increasingly prevalent within the UK. The use of commercial prescription formula is considered best practice; however, increasingly, patients are choosing to use blended diet via gastrostomy. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting both physical and social benefits, although there are concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of this method of feeding. The present study explores the experiences of patients who are currently using or have used this method of feeding in the past. Methods: Patients currently using or having previously used blended diet via gastrostomy were identified. Patients and their carers, where applicable, were invited to participate in a semi‐structured interview. The data were transcribed and themes were identified. Results: Thematic analysis of the data collected showed that patients had an overall positive experience of blended diet with few or no identified disadvantages. Participants reported improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as general wellbeing, in addition to the social benefits of their family member being included in family mealtimes. Reference was made to the lack of support for this method of feeding and the desire for blended diet to be offered as an alternative to commercial enteral feed. Conclusions: This research highlights the benefits of blended diet via gastrostomy as an alternative to commercial formula. More research is needed to develop evidence‐based guidelines for patients and the healthcare professionals supporting them.

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A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study of a Manualized Intervention for Caregivers of Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury in Inpatient Rehabilitation

Objective Investigate effectiveness of a 5-session manualized intervention for addressing needs of caregivers of persons in acute traumatic brain injury (TBI) rehabilitation. Design Prospective, pilot randomized controlled trial. Setting Inpatient brain injury rehabilitation unit, level 1 trauma center. Participants Patients (N=93) with moderate-to-severe TBI and their family members were enrolled in the study with 42 randomized to the treatment group, 51 to the control group. Intervention Five-session manualized caregiver intervention with educational, stress and anxiety self-management, coping, and emotional support components. Main Outcome Measures Family Needs Questionnaire-Revised, knowledge assessment, Zarit Family Burden Scale, and Brief Symptom Inventory-18 were collected at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 3-month follow-up. Results Treatment group caregivers showed an increase in met needs for emotional, instrumental, and professional support, and brain injury knowledge from baseline to posttreatment, whereas controls did not. Between-group differences were significant for only emotional support needs. Treatment effects were not sustained at 3-month follow-up. Conclusions Caregivers of persons undergoing acute TBI rehabilitation may benefit from interventions that target their unique needs. Caregivers may require additional and longer-term supports to sustain treatment benefits.

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"I'm just trying to cope for both of us": Challenges and supports of family caregivers in participant-directed programs

Recently, national attention has focused on the needs of family caregivers providing complex chronic care, noting the necessity to better understand the scope of challenges they encounter. Although a robust body of literature exists about the scope of family caregiving, little is known specifically about the experiences and perspectives of family caregivers who support participant directed (PD) participants, particularly across the caregiving trajectory. Therefore, the aim of this qualitative descriptive study was to describe what family caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, aging, or chronic health conditions identify as the challenges they experience as complex, and their perceptions of the effectiveness and gaps in family support resources in PD. Semi-structured interviews were audio-recorded with a purposive sample of caregivers. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using conventional content analysis. Fifty-four caregivers of individuals with a range of disabilities participated (age 34-78, M 59.9 ± 8.8; male 19%; spouse 17%, parent 61%). Six categories emerged from the analysis: contextualizing complexity, complexity in transitions, coping with complexity: advocacy & isolation, supportive support, unsupportive support, and systems challenges. Caregivers emphasized the interplay between unpredictability, transitions, and complexity and the interaction between the person receiving support, the caregiver's own situation, and the environment. Findings highlight the need, and provide a guide, for family assessment and for tailoring interventions matched to the profiles and self-identified challenges of families living with disability. Social workers can learn what families see as complex and what support broker behaviors families find helpful, and which not.

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Caring for Patients With a Tracheostomy at Home: A Descriptive, Cross-sectional Study to Evaluate Health Care Practices and Caregiver Burden

In numerous countries, lay (family) caregivers are the primary providers of care for community-dwelling patients with a tracheostomy.; Purpose: The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine health care practices and the burden on family caregivers for patients with a tracheostomy living at home.; Methods: The research population included 50 caregivers (average age 55.60 ± 1.39 years; 25 [50%] female) who provided care to 50 patients (average age 63.50 ± 1.72 years; 35 [70%] male) who were discharged from the otorhinolaryngology clinic of an education and research hospital in Turkey. Patient and caregiver characteristic data and tracheostomy care practices were collected via face-to-face interviews between caregivers and researchers using paper-and-pencil questionnaires. The 18-item Zarit Caregiver Burden Interview also was completed; responses to statements are rated on a scale of 0-4, where 0 = never, 1 = rarely, 2 = sometimes, 3 = often, and 4 = almost always. Total scale scores range from 0 to 88; higher scores indicate greater burden. Data were transferred into a statistical analysis program.; Results: The mean score for the Zarit Caregiver Burden Scale was 42.44 ± 1.93, inferring caregivers were moderately burdened. Caregiver burden scores were significantly higher among female caregivers, caregivers without health insurance, caregivers requiring help, caregivers with chronic illness, more daily care time (hours), and duration of total care (months). Patient burden scores were significantly higher among persons requiring provision of daily nebulization and oxygen therapy, external cannula cleaning, and daily patient care.; Conclusion: This study illuminates the burdens faced by lay/family caregivers of patients with a tracheostomy and identifies for community health clinicians the challenges, care requirements at home, and burden of family caregivers that must be addressed.

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Psychological Sequelae in Family Caregivers of Critically-Ill Intensive Care Unit Patients: A Systematic Review

Rationale: Family members of critically-ill patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) often become caregivers and they are at risk to develop adverse psychological outcomes. There is a need to understand the psychological impact of critical illness on family caregivers.; Objectives: The aim of this systematic review is to document the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in family caregivers of critically-ill patients and identify potential risk factors for psychological outcomes to inform clinical and future research recommendations.; Methods: A literature search for psychological outcomes for family caregivers of critically-ill patients was conducted. A total of 1,148 studies from PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, SCOPUS and Medline were identified.; Results: Forty studies met inclusion criteria and were included in the review. The prevalence of psychological outcomes in family caregivers ranged from 4% to 94% for depression, 2% to 80% for anxiety, and 3% to 62% for PTSD. Caregiver depression, anxiety, and PTSD decreased in most studies that assessed longitudinal outcomes. Common risk factors identified for adverse psychological outcomes included younger caregiver age, caregiver relationship to the patient, lower socioeconomic status, and female sex.; Conclusions: The prevalence of depression, anxiety, and PTSD varies greatly across studies of family caregivers of critically-ill patients. This finding highlights the need for more systematic investigations of psychological outcomes and the implementation of clinical interventions to prevent or reduce depression, anxiety, and PTSD in family caregivers of critically-ill patients.

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Post-traumatic stress symptoms in family caregivers of intensive care unit patients: A longitudinal study

Objectives To describe the prevalence and trajectory of family caregivers' post-traumatic stress symptoms during the first year after a patient's admission to the intensive care unit and identify associations between family caregivers' background characteristics, hope and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Research methodology/designs Family caregivers of intensive care unit patients (n = 211) completed questionnaires at patient admission to the intensive care unit and thereafter at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Mixed-model analyses were performed. Setting Four intensive care units in a university hospital in Norway. Main outcome measures Impact of Event Scale—Revised and Herth Hope Index. Results On admission, 54% of family caregivers reported high post-traumatic stress symptom levels, which decreased during the first six months after patient discharge. Lower levels of hope, being younger, having more comorbidities and being on sick leave were associated with higher post-traumatic stress symptom levels. Being the parent of the patient was associated with decreased post-traumatic stress symptom levels. Conclusions Family caregivers of intensive care unit patients report high levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Higher levels of hope were associated with fewer post-traumatic stress symptoms.

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Helping families and carers to support a person with a stoma and dementia

The articles discusses nurses of Great Britain's National Health Service's (NHS's) assistance to caregivers and families supporting dementia patients who had stoma surgery, including in regard to the use of distraction for people unwilling to engage in stoma care. An overview of hospitals' identification of dementia patients is provided.

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"Neither a wife nor a widow": an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experiences of female family caregivers in disorders of consciousness

Disorders of consciousness (DoC) disrupt close relationships. This study investigated the experience of a DoC in the family. Four main themes were identified from semi-structured interviews with nine females and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA): (1) Loss without a name, (2) Relationship without a title, (3) Symbiotic relating and (4) Frozen futures. Participants' accounts showed complex losses and relationship transformations that were challenging to cope with. Participants embodied the person and experienced reductions in rehabilitation and social visits as personally abandoning and led to strong advocacy with professionals. The uncertainty created by the DoC meant participants lived in the present moment and struggled to make plans for their future. Psychological support to demonstrate a sensitivity and validation of this unique complex loss, a framework for naming the loss, provision of education about the condition and enhancing coping with a chronic situation are needed.

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“I see myself as part of the team” – family caregivers’ contribution to safety in advanced home care

Background: The use of medical technology and the various contributing and interdepending human factors in home care have implications for patient safety. Although family caregivers are often involved in the provision of advanced home care, there is little research on their contribution to safety. The study aims to explore family caregivers in Home Mechanical Ventilation (HMV) safety experiences and how safety is perceived by them in this context. Furthermore, it seeks to understand how family caregivers contribute to the patients’ and their own safety in HMV and what kind of support they expect from their health care team. Methods: An explorative, qualitative study was applied using elements from grounded theory methodology. Data were collected through individual interviews with 15 family caregivers to patients receiving HMV in two regions in Germany. The audiotaped interviews were then subject to thematic analysis. Results: The findings shows that family caregivers contribute to safety in HMV by trying to foster mutual information sharing about the patient and his/her situation, coordinating informally health care services and undertaking compensation of shortcomings in HMV. Conclusion: Consequently, family caregivers take on considerable responsibility for patient safety in advanced home care by being actively and constantly committed to safety work. Nurses working in this setting should be clinically and technically skilled and focus on building partnership relations with family caregivers. This especially encompasses negotiation about their role in care and patient safety. Support and education should be offered if needed. Only skilled nurses, who can provide safe care and who can handle critical situations should be appointed to HMV. They should also serve as professional care coordinators and provide educational interventions to strengthen family caregivers’ competence.

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Informal care management after traumatic brain injury: perspectives on informal carer workload and capacity

Purpose: Much of the support required to live in the community post-traumatic brain injury (TBI) is provided by informal carers. Understanding the nature of caregiving work is important to better support informal carers. This study explored the work being performed by informal carers, and factors impacting on their capacity to manage the workload.; Method: Participants comprised 21 dyads each consisting of an adult with moderate to severe TBI and a nominated carer. Thematic analysis was done on semi-structured interviews with injured participants and carers during the 12-month period post-discharge from hospital.; Results: Results revealed two main themes and eight subcategories: (1) The nature of informal care: describing informal care management work, (personal assistant work; care provider work; family support work; and emotional self-regulation work), and (2) Mediating factors that impacted people's capacity to manage workload (carer intrinsic factors; injured person characteristics; family circumstances; and changes over time.) Conclusion: Rehabilitation providers supporting people following TBI need to focus on broad family contexts; understand the nature of work being undertaken, and carer capacity to carry out that work; and be aware of the unique and changing circumstances of families to better support informal carers. Implications for rehabilitation Rehabilitation services need to focus on broad family contexts rather than focus on the injured individual in isolation. Understanding the nature of the work being undertaken by informal carers, and their capacity to carry out that work is important when considering supports. Rehabilitation professionals need to consider and respond to the impact that changing circumstances have on the capacity of informal care networks to manage care workload.

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“Stuck in a loop of fear”: a phenomenological exploration of carers’ experiences supporting a spouse with acquired brain injury

Purpose: Family caregivers are important to facilitating the rehabilitation of individuals with brain injury. However, research shows spousal carers often reporting poorer health and well-being with psychosocial challenges including increased marital dissatisfaction. This study explores the accounts of participants caring for a spouse with brain injury. Materials and methods: This study used semi-structured interviewing and interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: One theme, “Living in and beyond the loop of fear”, with two subheadings is reported. Participants’ attempts to manage their fears prominently defined their early caregiving. Fears were aggravated by the vulnerability of their spouse’s health which partially owed to brain injury sometimes having no symptoms prior to its onset. Consequently, participants anxiously strove to prevent further harm to their spouse’s health due to what they perceived as the continued “hidden” threat of brain injury. Therefore, participants became hypervigilant, leaving themselves vulnerable to burnout. Over time, some participants modified care practices and managed fears using beliefs accepting their limits to protect their spouses’ health. Conclusions: Findings suggest that beliefs conducive to acceptance helped carers to develop more sustainable, less over-protective, care. Interventions to help carers develop similar beliefs could be provided in therapeutic settings. Recommendations for future research are made. Implications for Rehabilitation: Caring for a long-term partner with acquired brain injury has considerable challenges which can threaten an individual’s health and well-being. Our research reports on carers’ experiences of anxiety which they managed through hypervigilant and overprotective practices which put them at risk of burnout. Consequently, we recommend the promotion of care beliefs that reframe caregiving: recognising the carer’s limitations to safeguard a spouse, whilst accepting the vulnerability of the spouse’s health. We propose that promoting such principles in therapeutic settings may better equip carers emotionally to provide sustainable care, something which could benefit the carer and spouse’s rehabilitation alike.

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Systematic Review of Caregiver and Dyad Interventions After Adult Traumatic Brain Injury

Objective To describe and synthesize the literature on adult traumatic brain injury (TBI) family caregiver and dyad intervention. TBI is a common injury that has a significant long-term impact, and is sometimes even characterized as a chronic condition. Informal (ie, unpaid) family caregivers of adults with TBI experience high rates of burnout, depression, fatigue, anxiety, lower subjective well-being, and poorer levels of physical health compared to noncaregivers. This study addresses the critical gap in the understanding of interventions designed to address the impact of TBI on adult patients and their family caregivers. Data Sources PubMed and MEDLINE. Study Selection Studies selected for review had to be written in English and be quasi-experimental or experimental in design, report on TBI caregivers, survivors with heavy involvement of caregivers, or caregiver dyads, involve moderate and severe TBI, and describe an intervention implemented during some portion of the TBI care continuum. Data Extraction The search identified 2171 articles, of which 14 met our criteria for inclusion. Of the identified studies, 10 were randomized clinical trials and 4 were nonrandomized quasi-experimental studies. A secondary search to describe studies that included individuals with other forms of acquired brain injury in addition to TBI resulted in 852 additional titles, of which 5 met our inclusion criteria. Data Synthesis Interventions that targeted the caregiver primarily were more likely to provide benefit than those that targeted caregiver/survivor dyad or the survivor only. Many of the studies were limited by poor fidelity, low sample sizes, and high risk for bias based on randomization techniques. Conclusions Future studies of TBI caregivers should enroll a more generalizable number of participants and ensure adequate fidelity to properly compare interventions.

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Home Alone Revisited: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Care

The AARP Home Alone study in 2012 was the first national look at how families, neighbors, and friends are managing medical/nursing tasks—that is, the complex care associated with administering multiple medications, changing dressings, handling medical equipment, and providing many other kinds of help that were formerly offered by trained professionals.  (See Seven years later, this Home Alone Revisited study sought a deeper understanding of what family caregivers who perform medical/nursing tasks experience. Employing an oversampling of multicultural groups, it took a closer look at specific difficult tasks, such as managing incontinence, pain, and special diets. It also offered greater attention to resources and outcomes as well as multicultural, gender, and generational experiences. A nationally representative, population-based, online survey of 2,089 family caregivers provided the basis for our analyses. An organizing framework, qualitative findings, and multivariate analyses provided further insights into the stories these family caregivers told us. Their voices led to our recommendations, found in these pages, for professionals, health care organizations, policy makers, and private-sector stakeholders.

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Fulfilling the psychological and information need of the family members of critically ill patients using interactive mobile technology: A randomised controlled trial

Background Intensive care nurses may have an important role in empowering families by providing psychological support and fulfilling the family's pivotal need for information. Aim To determine whether ‘education of families by tab’ about the patient’s condition was more associated with improved anxiety, stress, and depression levels than the ‘education of families by routine’. Research design A randomized control trial of 74 main family caregivers (intervention: 39; control: 35). Setting An adult intensive care unit. Main outcome measures Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, and Communication and Physical Comfort Scale. Results Although information need satisfaction was not significantly different between intervention and control groups, the former reported significantly better depression score on Depression Anxiety Stress Scale comparing to the control group (p<0.01;η2=0.09) with a medium effect size. Reduction of anxiety in the intervention group were clinically significant. Conclusion The results suggest that use of ‘education of family by tab’ is promising for intensive care nurses to provide psychological support for family members. More studies are needed to investigate this aspect of family care for better psychological support and information need satisfaction that contributes to the evidence-based practice of intensive care nursing.

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Stakeholder Meeting: Integrated Knowledge Translation Approach to Address the Caregiver Support Gap

Family caregivers are an integral and increasingly overburdened part of the health care system. There is a gap between what research evidence shows is beneficial to caregivers and what is actually provided. Using an integrated knowledge translation approach, a stakeholder meeting was held among researchers, family caregivers, caregiver associations, clinicians, health care administrators, and policy makers. The objectives of the meeting were to review current research evidence and conduct multi-stakeholder dialogue on the potential gaps, facilitators, and barriers to the provision of caregiver supports. A two-day meeting was attended by 123 individuals. Three target populations of family caregivers were identified for discussion: caregivers of seniors with dementia, caregivers in end-of-life care, and caregivers of frail seniors with complex health needs. The results of this meeting can and are being used to inform the development of implementation research endeavours and policies targeted at providing evidence-informed caregiver supports.

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Managing Medicines for Patients Dying at Home: A Review of Family Caregivers' Experiences

Context. Increased life expectancy, technical advances in treatment and symptom control, and the extension of palliative care in community settings not only lengthen life but also make it possible for many patients to be cared for, and to die, at home. Moreover, death increasingly occurs in late old age and after a prolonged period of comorbidity and/or frailty. This has far-reaching consequences for the way that professional services are resourced and organized and for the informal carers who are often responsible for providing the greater part of patient care, including management of complex medication regimes. Objectives. To explore the literature focused on family caregivers' (FCGs) experiences of medication management for patients being cared for and dying at home. Methods. This literature review takes a critical interpretive synthesis approach to the review of 15 identified articles. Results. Findings show that FCGs can struggle to manage medications for someone who is dying at home, yet there is an expectation that they will take on these roles and are often judged by professional standards. Five key themes identified particular issues around administration, organizational skills, empowerment, relationships, and support. Conclusion. As increasing demands are placed on FCGs, there remains limited acknowledgment or understanding of the challenges they face, how they cope, or could be best supported. Alongside training, FCGs need access to 24 hours of support and medication reviews to rationalize unnecessary medications. Furthermore, the ethical challenges arising from administering medicines at the end of life also need to be acknowledged and discussed.

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Families in the intensive care unit : a guide to understanding, engaging, and supporting at the bedside

This text is one of the first comprehensive resources on understanding and working with families in the intensive care unit. The text provides a conceptual overview of the Family ICU Syndrome, a constellation of physical morbidity, psychopathology, cognitive deficits, and conflict. Outlining its mechanisms, the book presents a guide to combating the syndrome with an interdisciplinary team. The text represents the full array of the interdisciplinary team by also spotlighting administrative considerations for health care management and approaches to training different members of the health care team. Family voices are featured prominently in the text as well. The book also addresses the complete trajectory of needs of care, including survivorship and end-of-life care. Written by experts in the field, Families in the Intensive Care Unit: A Guide to Understanding, Engaging and Supporting at the Bedside is a state-of-the-art reference for all clinicians who work with families in the ICU.

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Development and Initial Validation of the Caregiver Perceptions About Communication With Clinical Team Members (CAPACITY) Measure

Despite the important role that family caregivers play managing the care of persons with complex health needs, little is known about how caregivers perceive themselves to be recognized and valued by health care professionals. Our objective was to develop and validate a novel measure, the CAregiver Perceptions About Commun Ication with Clinical Team members (CAPACITY) instrument. Questions focus on perceived quality of communication with the health care team and the extent to which caregivers believe that the health care team considers their capacity and preferences in decision making. A confirmatory factor analysis supported a two-factor solution addressing communication and capacity. Internal consistency reliability was .90 for the communication domain and .93 for the capacity domain. Correlations between these two subscales and individual difference measures provided evidence of convergent and discriminant validity. The CAPACITY instrument may be a useful performance measure that quantifies the extent to which caregivers' experience person- and family-centered health care.

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Carer Experience Supporting Someone With Dementia and Cancer: A Narrative Approach

In this article, we examine the challenges of informal carers supporting someone with dementia and cancer within the United Kingdom. Interviews were conducted with seven informal carers using a narrative approach to examine the construction of their experiences. Our findings demonstrate how informal carers navigate a path through complex cancer treatments and support their relative. A cancer diagnosis often requires multiple treatment visits to an oncology center, and this can be challenging for carers. They find that they need to coordinate and manage both health professionals and their relative in terms of getting access to appropriate services and support. This process can be particularly challenging in the presence of a cognitive impairment that often demands effective communication with different agencies. Carers frequently experienced multiple challenges including dealing with the stigma that is characteristic of the dementia experience and the added complexity of negotiating this within a cancer care context.

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Internet Use and Technology-Related Attitudes of Veterans and Informal Caregivers of Veterans

Background: Healthcare systems are interested in technology-enhanced interventions to improve patient access and outcomes. However, there is uncertainty about feasibility and acceptability for groups who may benefit but are at risk for disparities in technology use. Thus, we sought to describe characteristics of Internet use and technology-related attitudes for two such groups: (1) Veterans with multi-morbidity and high acute care utilization and (2) informal caregivers of Veterans with substantial care needs at home.; Materials and Methods: We used survey data from two ongoing trials, for 423 Veteran and 169 caregiver participants, respectively. Questions examined Internet use in the past year, willingness to communicate via videoconferencing, and comfort with new technology devices.; Results: Most participants used Internet in the past year (81% of Veterans, 82% of caregivers); the majority of users (83% of Veterans, 92% of caregivers) accessed Internet at least a few times a week, and used a private laptop or computer (81% of Veterans, 89% of caregivers). Most were willing to use videoconferencing via private devices (77-83%). A majority of participants were comfortable attempting to use new devices with in-person assistance (80% of Veterans, 85% of caregivers), whereas lower proportions were comfortable "on your own" (58-59% for Veterans and caregivers). Internet use was associated with comfort with new technology devices (odds ratio 2.76, 95% confidence interval 1.70-4.53).; Conclusions: Findings suggest that technology-enhanced healthcare interventions are feasible and acceptable for Veterans with multi-morbidity and high healthcare utilization, and informal caregivers of Veterans. In-person assistance may be important for those with no recent Internet use.

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Mental health and reactions to caregiving among next of kin of older people (65+) with multi-morbidity discharged home after hospitalization

Background: Older people with multi-morbidity are major users of healthcare and are often discharged from hospital with ongoing care needs. This care is frequently provided by informal caregivers and the time immediately after discharge is challenging for caregivers with new and/or additional tasks, resulting in anxiety and stress.; Aim: This study aimed to describe mental health, with particular reference to anxiety and depression and reactions to caregiving, and to investigate any associations between the two, in next of kin of older people with multi-morbidity after hospitalisation. It also aimed to explore the association between the demographic characteristics of the study group and mental health and reactions to caregiving.; Methods: This was a cross-sectional questionnaire study using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Caregiver Reaction Assessment. The study group consisted of 345 next of kin of older people (65+) with multi-morbidity discharged home from 13 medical wards in Sweden. Data were analysed using descriptive and analytical statistics. To identify whether reactions to caregiving and next of kin characteristics were associated with anxiety and depression, a univariate logistic regression analysis was performed.; Results: More than one quarter of respondents showed severe anxiety and nearly one in 10 had severe depressive symptoms. The frequencies of anxiety and depression increased significantly with increased negative reactions to caregiving and decreased significantly with positive reactions to caregiving. Regarding caregiving reactions, the scores were highest for the positive domain Caregiver esteem, followed by the negative domain Impact on health. Women scored significantly higher than men on Impact on health and spouses scored highest for Impact on schedule and Caregiver esteem.; Conclusions: Nurses and other healthcare professionals may need to provide additional support to informal caregivers before and after discharging older people with significant care needs from hospital. This might include person-centred information, education and training.

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Care Recipient Multimorbidity and Health Impacts on Informal Caregivers: A Systematic Review

Background and Objectives: Caregiving outcomes have often been reported in terms of care recipients of single disease, rather than multiple health conditions. A systematic review was conducted to outline caregiving health outcomes and its association with care recipient multimorbidity for informal caregivers of older adults.; Research Design and Methods: A search strategy was applied in six databases and grey literature. Inclusion criteria were primary observational studies on informal caregiving for care recipients aged 60 years and above, in the English language. Informal caregivers were those not formally hired and multimorbidity referred to presence of at least two health conditions. From a total of 2,101 titles, 230 abstracts were screened, and 19 articles were included. Quality assessment was conducted with application of the Newcastle-Ottawa-Scale.; Results: Health-related and caregiving-related outcomes have been assessed for informal caregivers of older adults with multimorbidity. Caregiver subjective burden was most commonly evaluated and often reported to be low to moderate. In association with care recipient multimorbidity, caregiver burden, quality of life, and perceived difficulty in assisting the older adults were examined in 14 of the studies with mixed results. Studies were heterogeneous, with nonuniform definitions of informal caregivers and multimorbidity as well as measurement tools.; Discussion and Implications: This narrative review found that caring for older adults with multimorbidity impacts caregivers, although overall evidence is not conclusive. Despite caregiving-related outcomes being most commonly assessed among the caregivers, particularly subjective burden, findings suggest that it is worthwhile to examine other outcomes to enrich the evidence base.

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Managing multiple chronic conditions in the community: a Canadian qualitative study of the experiences of older adults, family caregivers and healthcare providers

Background: The prevalence of multiple chronic conditions (MCC) among older persons is increasing worldwide and is associated with poor health status and high rates of healthcare utilization and costs. Current health and social services are not addressing the complex needs of this group or their family caregivers. A better understanding of the experience of MCC from multiple perspectives is needed to improve the approach to care for this vulnerable group. However, the experience of MCC has not been explored with a broad sample of community-living older adults, family caregivers and healthcare providers. The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of managing MCC in the community from the perspectives of older adults with MCC, family caregivers and healthcare providers working in a variety of settings.; Methods: Using Thorne's interpretive description approach, semi-structured interviews (n = 130) were conducted in two Canadian provinces with 41 community-living older adults (aged 65 years and older) with three or more chronic conditions, 47 family caregivers (aged 18 years and older), and 42 healthcare providers working in various community settings. Healthcare providers represented various disciplines and settings. Interview transcripts were analyzed using Thorne's interpretive description approach.; Results: Participants described the experience of managing MCC as: (a) overwhelming, draining and complicated, (b) organizing pills and appointments, (c) being split into pieces, (d) doing what the doctor says, (e) relying on family and friends, and (f) having difficulty getting outside help. These themes resonated with the emotional impact of MCC for all three groups of participants and the heavy reliance on family caregivers to support care in the home.; Conclusions: The experience of managing MCC in the community was one of high complexity, where there was a large gap between the needs of older adults and caregivers and the ability of health and social care systems to meet those needs. Healthcare for MCC was experienced as piecemeal and fragmented with little focus on the person and family as a whole. These findings provide a foundation for the design of care processes to more optimally address the needs-service gap that is integral to the experience of managing MCC.;

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Discussion Paper 6: Disability and Family Carer Policy - Challenges and Responses

A working definition of ‘disability’ is crucial to any research, policy development or service provision in the field. There are many definitions of disability (Iezzoni & Freedman, 2008), some directly contradicting others. These differences originate from the different theoretical viewpoints which have been and are still being used to articulate what ‘disability’ is. These ‘competing’ models – though such competition is not explicitly stated in many cases – contribute to the confusion which often accompanies policy work and service provision in the disability-specific sector and those sectors closely connected – such as family caring.

Recent developments and discussions within the disability and family caring sectors in Ireland only highlight the challenges of obtaining a general consensus on the conceptualisation of disability.

The purpose of this paper, as with all papers in this series, is to ask questions with the aim of stimulating debate and critical thinking within the sector. This is particularly true as regards questions that may be uncomfortable for some readers.

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Association of impairments of older persons with caregiver burden among family caregivers: Findings from rural South India

Aim: In India, owing to cultural norms and a lack of formal long-term care facilities, responsibility for care of the older person falls primarily on the family. Based on the stress process model, we assessed the association of type and number of impairments of older persons (∼primary stressors) with caregiver burden among their family caregivers in rural South India.; Methods: All impaired older persons (aged ≥60, with impairment in activities of daily living (ADL) or cognition or vision or hearing) residing in 8 villages in Bangalore district, Karnataka, India, and their primary informal caregivers were interviewed. Caregiver burden was measured using the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI; higher score indicating greater perceived burden). Linear regression models, adjusting for background characteristics of older persons and caregivers, assessed the association of type of impairment (physical [Yes/No], cognitive [Yes/No], vision [Yes/No] and hearing [Yes/No]) and number (1 or 2 or 3 or 4) of older person impairments with caregiver burden.; Results: A total of 140 caregivers, caring for 149 older persons, were interviewed. The mean (standard deviation) ZBI score was 21.2 (12.9). Of the various older person impairments, ZBI score was associated only with physical impairment (β=6.6; 95% CI: 2.1-11.1). Relative to caregivers of older person with one impairment, those caring for an older person with all 4 impairments had significantly higher ZBI score (β=13.9; CI: 2.5-25.4).; Conclusion: Caregivers of older persons with multiple impairments, especially physical impairment, are vulnerable.; Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Teaching Caregivers to Administer Eye Drops, Transdermal Patches, and Suppositories

This article is the third in a series, Supporting Family Caregivers: No Longer Home Alone, published in collaboration with the AARP Public Policy Institute. Results of focus groups conducted as part of the AARP Public Policy Institute's No Longer Home Alone video project supported evidence that family caregivers aren't being given the information they need to manage the complex care regimens of their family members. This series of articles and accompanying videos aims to help nurses provide caregivers with the tools they need to manage their family member's medications. Each article explains the principles nurses should consider and reinforce with caregivers and is accompanied by a video for the caregiver to watch. The third video can be accessed at 

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Medication Management for People with Dementia

This article is the fourth in a series, Supporting Family Caregivers: No Longer Home Alone, published in collaboration with the AARP Public Policy Institute. Results of focus groups conducted as part of the AARP Public Policy Institute's No Longer Home Alone video project supported evidence that family caregivers aren't being given the information they need to manage the complex care regimens of their family members. This series of articles and accompanying videos aims to help nurses provide caregivers with the tools they need to manage their family member's medications. Each article explains the principles nurses should consider and reinforce with caregivers and is accompanied by a video for the caregiver to watch. The fourth video can be accessed at .

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Managing Complex Medication Regimens

This article is the first in a series, Supporting Family Caregivers: No Longer Home Alone, published in collaboration with the AARP Public Policy Institute. Results of focus groups conducted as part of the AARP Public Policy Institute's No Longer Home Alone video project supported evidence that family caregivers aren't being given the information they need to manage the complex care regimens of their family members. This series of articles and accompanying videos aims to help nurses provide caregivers with the tools they need to manage their family member's medications. Each article explains the principles nurses should consider and reinforce with caregivers and is accompanied by a video for the caregiver to watch. The first video can be accessed at

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A qualitative study of factors that influence active family involvement with patient care in the ICU: Survey of critical care nurses

Objective: Family caregiver involvement may improve patient and family outcomes in the intensive care unit. This study describes critical care nurses' approaches to involving family caregivers in direct patient care.; Research Methodology& Design: This is a qualitative content analysis of text captured through an electronic survey.; Setting: A convenience sample of 374 critical care nurses in the United States who were subscribers to one of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses social media sites or electronic newsletters.; Main Outcome Measure: Critical care nurses' responses to five open-ended questions about their approaches to family involvement in direct patient care.; Findings: Nurse, patient and family caregiver factors intersected in the context of the professional practice environment and the available resources for family care. Two main themes were identified: "Involving family caregivers in patient care in the intensive care unit requires careful assessment" and "There are barriers and facilitators to caregiver involvement in patient care in the intensive care unit."; Conclusion: Patient care demands, the professional practice environment and a lack of resources for families hindered nursing family caregiver involvement. Greater attention to these barriers as they relate to family caregiver involvement and clinical outcomes should be a priority in future research.; Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Older people from white-British and Asian-Indian backgrounds and their expectations for support from their children

The importance of ties between older people and their children has been widely documented as a fundamental component in the provision and receipt of support. While the reference to such support is usually made in a benign manner, it is overly simplistic to assume that support provided by family members will always and necessarily lead to positive outcomes for older people. A person's perception of the adequacy or quality of support is inevitably influenced by his or her expectation of the type, frequency and source of support preferred or required. Most existing British research on the family support of older people has concentrated on those from the white‐British majority with little cross‐group comparisons. This article reports on in‐depth qualitative research with 17 and 21 older people from white‐British and Asian‐Indian backgrounds respectively. It demonstrates how gender, ethnicity, migration history and a range of other factors interweave in complex manners to affect individuals' expectations for support from their adult children. The findings reveal commonalities and differences within and between groups and demonstrate that the association between expectations of support and resultant sense of well‐being is complicated and is often conditional. Stereotypes within and across groups need to be examined given the observation that while familial norms may be played out differently in different cultural contexts, individuals make sense of and rationalise their expectations for support to take into account the dynamics of changing structures and attitudes.

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The keys to life: improving quality of life for people with learning disabilities

The same as you?’ (2000) was the original 10-year programme designed to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities in Scotland. It was highly successful in shifting the balance of care to support more people to live in the community. This new 10-year strategy sets out a vision for improved partnership working to deliver better outcomes for people with learning disabilities, and their families and carers. It has more than 50 recommendations, most of which are aimed at health. The strategy also covers commissioning of public services; independent living; shifting the culture and keeping safe; breaking stereotypes; the needs of people with profound and multiple disabilities; criminal justice; and complex care. It includes good practice examples and case studies. Appendices include a glossary and weblinks to key organisations.

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Talking about care: two sides to the story

Despite its familiarity, the realities of care are both complex and contested. This book offers a unique approach to scrutinising the co-existence of both care and abuse in relationships. It demonstrates ways of increasing critical reflexivity when working with people involved in difficult care relationships. The book emphasises that when talking about care, we need to care about talk. Discourse analysis is introduced as a method of investigating relationships, policy and literature in informal care. Analytic tools are considered alongside case studies to illustrate how both carer and caree construct their relationship and account for difficulties with each other. The book addresses key questions, including: What can we learn by muddying the false polarities between `care/abuse' and `carer/caree'? How do carers and carees use life histories to explain troubled relationships? What can discourse analysis add to how we make sense of individual carer/caree accounts? How can health and social care practitioners [...]

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Family caregiving and congestive heart failure. Review and analysis

BACKGROUND: There is increasing evidence that discharge planning and post-discharge support for CHF patients can contribute greatly to the medical management of heart failure (CHF) in the community and that the quality of the CHF patient's close personal relationships can influence outcome in CHF. However, there has been little research on the impact of CHF on the family or the role of the family in the management of the condition. In this paper, we provide a review and analysis of studies that have explicitly investigated these issues in the informal carers of CHF patients.

RESULTS OF THE REVIEW: Sixteen papers were identified that examined the role and/or impact of informal caregiving for CHF patients. Our main findings were: demands specific to CHF caregiving were identified, e.g., monitoring complex medical and self-care regimen, disturbed sleep and frequent hospitalisation of patients. Relatively high levels of emotional distress were identified in CHF caregivers. Few studies explicitly investigated the role of informal carers in the management of CHF. Studies were limited in number, scope and quality.

CONCLUSION: Caring for a family member with CHF can affect the well-being of those responsible for care, which may have consequences for the CHF patient's health. Further studies are needed to clarify these issues and to examine the role of informal caregivers in the management of CHF in the community.

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Enhancing the experience of carers in the chemotherapy outpatient setting: an exploratory randomised controlled trial to test impact, acceptability and feasibility of a complex intervention co-designed by carers and staff

Purpose: Supporting someone through chemotherapy can be emotionally and physically demanding. However, research has yet to establish the type of support carers require or the best way to provide this. This study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a complex intervention for carers that was co-designed by staff and carers of patients starting chemotherapy.

Methods: Forty-seven carers were recruited, randomised between the intervention (n = 24) and control (n = 23) groups. A questionnaire was completed pre- and post-intervention measuring knowledge of chemotherapy and its side effects, experience of care, satisfaction with outpatient services, coping and emotional wellbeing. The intervention process was evaluated by carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in focus groups.

Results: Recruitment to the study was unproblematic and attrition from it was low, suggesting the intervention and study processes were acceptable to patients and carers. Carers in receipt of the ‘Take Care’ intervention reported statistically significantly better understanding of symptoms and side effects and their information needs being more frequently met than carers in the control. Confidence in coping improved between baseline and follow-up for the intervention group and declined for the control although differences were insufficient to achieve statistical significance. There was no significant difference between the two groups’ emotional wellbeing. HCP and carer focus groups confirmed the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention.

Conclusions: The ‘Take Care’ intervention proved acceptable to carers and HCPs and demonstrates considerable promise and utility in practice. Study findings support the conduct of a fully powered RCT to determine the intervention’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

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Personalisation for older people: supported housing

Lifelong couple Brian and Olive live in specialist supported accommodation. Brian has been Olive’s carer since she developed dementia. The housing complex where they live is managed as a community in which each individual is valued for the contribution they can make. The manager explains how important it is for carers as well as the person with dementia to maintain their individual identity and role as partner. The value of having a flexible, responsive individual care plan is also emphasised in the film. Richard, whose mother has dementia, explains how important it was for his mum and dad to be able to stay living together, even when his mum’s needs increased. The film concludes by stating that having well trained and selected staff is vital for achieving personalisation.

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Health care experiences of people with dementia and their caregivers: a meta-ethnographic analysis of qualitative studies

BACKGROUND: Understanding the health care experience of people with dementia and their caregivers is becoming increasingly important given the growing number of affected individuals. We conducted a systematic review of qualitative studies that examined aspects of the health care experience of people with dementia and their caregivers to better understand ways to improve care for this population.

METHODS: We searched the electronic databases MEDLINE, Embase, PsychINFO and CINAHL to identify relevant articles. We extracted key study characteristics and methods from the included studies. We also extracted direct quotes from the primary studies, along with the interpretations provided by authors of the studies. We used meta-ethnography to synthesize the extracted information into an overall framework. We evaluated the quality of the primary studies using the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) checklist.

RESULTS: In total, 46 studies met our inclusion criteria; these involved 1866 people with dementia and their caregivers. We identified 5 major themes: seeking a diagnosis; accessing supports and services; addressing information needs; disease management; and communication and attitudes of health care providers. We conceptualized the health care experience as progressing through phases of seeking understanding and information, identifying the problem, role transitions following diagnosis and living with change.

INTERPRETATION: The health care experience of people with dementia and their caregivers is a complex and dynamic process, which could be improved for many people. Understanding these experiences provides insight into potential gaps in existing health services. Modifying existing services or implementing new models of care to address these gaps may lead to improved outcomes for people with dementia and their caregivers.

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An exploration of help-seeking behaviour in older people with unmet needs

Background. Despite decades of research showing high rates of unmet need in older people, there currently is little understanding of why these needs remain unmet. This study was performed as part of a larger feasibility study of a multidisciplinary needs assessment tool in primary care.

Objective. The aim of the present study was to explore patients' and carers' help-seeking behaviour and perceived barriers to meeting unmet needs.

Method. Four general practices were selected purposively in inner city and suburban London. A random sample of 1 in 20 people aged 75 years and over registered with each practice was selected for a multidisciplinary needs assessment using the ‘Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly’ (CANE) schedule and unmet needs identified by patients and their informal carers. For each unmet need, a further semi-structured interview was used to explore the help-seeking behaviour and perceived barriers to meeting their needs. Responses were recorded verbatim contemporaneously and a thematic analysis performed on perceived barriers following completion of all interviews.

Results. A total of 55/84 (65.5%) of patients and 15/17 (88%) of carers completed the initial needs assessment. For 104 unmet needs identified by 31 patients and 11 carers, a further interview was completed on the barriers to meeting that need. Help had been sought for only 25/104 (24%) of unmet needs and it had been offered in only 19/104 (18%). In those not seeking help, withdrawal, resignation and low expectations were dominant themes. In those that had sought help, there were issues of perceived failure of service delivery and rationing, with themes of resignation and withdrawal again emerging in those declining help offered.

Conclusion. The majority of older people and their carers do not appear to seek help for their unmet needs for a range of complex reasons, often involving issues of withdrawal, resignation and low expectations. This complexity has implications for the commissioning of services for older people.

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'Listen to what I'm saying': person centred care and the single assessment process

Person centred care means listening to people to find out what is most important to them and without making assumptions. Care is holistic, and centres on the whole person: who they are, their life before, and how they currently feel. The emphasis is on what the person can, rather than cannot do. This video shows health and social care professionals working directly with individuals and their carers. There are no actors, and no prepared scripts. The film shows what a difference a person centred approach makes to individuals with many/complex needs. It links the Single Assessment Process (SAP), as the person centred health and social care framework, with other Department of Health policies e.g. long term conditions with its emphasis on case management. It outlines key principles of person centred care that are evolving, including holistic assessment, personalised care plans, sharing information, continuity and coordination, and self care/self management. A feature of the film is to hear the views of the individuals and carers themselves in 3 Case Studies with a Social Worker, Community Matron and a Community Mental Health Nurse. 

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The recognition of and response to dementia in the community: lessons for professional development

Adult learning approaches require professionals to identify their learning needs. Learning about dementia syndromes is a complex task because of the insidious onset and variable course of the disease processes, the inexorability of cognitive and functional loss, and the emotional impact of neurodegenerative disorders on those experiencing them and on their family and professional carers. This report describes the ways in which learning tasks were understood and articulated by 774 community-based professionals from different disciplines, working in nominal groups in 24 settings across the United Kingdom, and explores how these groups set about identifying their learning needs. These groups focused on being insufficiently skilled to carry out educational functions, on solving problems of limited resources and inflexible systems, and on carers rather than on people with dementia. The groups’ solution hinged on multidisciplinary learning being the best route to achieving system change, but such an approach to learning was dealt with uncritically. Three themes received scant attention: the impact of practitioners’ own emotional responses to dementia on their clinical or practical skills; the educational potential of voluntary organizations; and the value of learning from the person with dementia, as much as from their carers. Professional development should therefore widen the debate about recognition of dementia to improvement of timely responses. It should concentrate on developing capacities not only around diagnosis, but also around communication and support.

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The coping methods of patients with Parkinson's disease their carers and the associations between health-related quality of life and depression

The methods of coping and their relationship to disease severity, cognitive function, depression and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) were examined in 79 Parkinson's disease (PD) patients and their carers. The coping methods of the PD patients were not associated with disease severity, cognitive function, or depression. In general the majority of correlations were weak. However, patients who used avoidance and cognitive coping methods reported improved HRQoL. Impaired cognitive function, poorer HRQoL and increased disease severity were associated with depression in patients. In carers, avoidance coping was associated with depression and cognitive impairment in the patient being cared for. These findings demonstrate the complex relationship in PD between impairment, quality of life, depression, cognitive function and the coping styles adopted by patients and carers. The study also highlights the difficulties in measuring these interactions with quantitative outcome measures.

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Transition planning and the needs of young people and their carers: the alumni project

Melanie Smart is a research associate at Sunfield School, Worcestershire, and a trainee clinical psychologist. In this article, she reports the results of a small-scale survey which looked at the views of 17 parents whose children with severe and/or complex learning difficulties had made the transition from a residential special school to an adult placement. Pa rents were asked their retrospective views on the transition planning process; their own involvement; and how the adult placement met the needs of their children.

Melanie Smart's findings indicate that the majority of parents were very much involved in the planning process, although they reported struggling to get consistency of approach and basic information. The young people themselves were found to be marginalised in the planning process, with very few being involved in any decision making. Most parents were happy with the eventual placement, but those who had concerns were still pushing for basic services and care. Of those who had suffered placement breakdowns, the major factor was lack of consistency of approach and failure to use prior information about the child.

This survey shows that parents and their learning disabled children experience difficulties in the transition process. There seems to be a distinct lack of person-centred planning, particularly with this user group, by both child and adult services. Parents are vital to this type of planning approach, particularly when the young people themselves cannot voice their needs or advocate their own rights to quality service provision. Melanie Smart argues that parents need access to better quality information and reassurance that their children will receive the services they deserve as young adults. The various agencies, she asserts, need to work together to ensure that the transition process is effective.

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Adult social care: summary of final report

Adult social care refers to the responsibilities of local social services authorities towards adults who need extra support. The legal framework for the provision of adult social care services dates back to 1948, and consists of a complex and confusing patchwork of legislation. A project to reform legal framework of adult social care law in order to address inconsistencies was announced in June 2008. This document summarises the main recommendations from the final report. Coverage includes: the structure of the reform; statutory principles; assessments; eligibility; carers' assessments and eligibility; provision of services; adult protection; ordinary residence and portability.

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Bridging troubled waters: family caregivers, transitions and long term care

Families are the bedrock of long-term care, but policymakers have traditionally considered them “informal” caregivers, as they are not part of the formal paid caregiving workforce. As chronic and long-term care systems have become more complex and as more demanding tasks have been shifted to families, this view is no longer sustainable. The care transition process offers a critical opportunity to treat family caregivers as important care partners. Enhancing their involvement, training, and support will contribute to reducing unnecessary rehospitalizations and improving patient outcomes. The contributions and experiences of family caregivers should be considered in gathering information to shape policies and practice; training health care professionals; developing programs; and reforming financing.

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Supported cognitive-behavioural self-help versus treatment-as-usual for depressed informal carers of stroke survivors (CEDArS): study protocol for a feasibility randomized controlled trial

Background: Increased life expectancy has resulted in a greater provision of informal care within the community for patients with chronic physical health conditions. Informal carers are at greater risk of poor mental health, with one in three informal carers of stroke survivors experiencing depression. However, currently no psychological treatments tailored to the unique needs of depressed informal carers of stroke survivors exist. Furthermore, informal carers of stroke survivors experience a number of barriers to attending traditional face-to-face psychological services, such as lack of time and the demands of the caring role. The increased flexibility associated with supported cognitive behavioral therapy self-help (CBTsh), such as the ability for support to be provided by telephone, email, or face-to-face, alongside shorter support sessions, may help overcome such barriers to access. CBTsh, tailored to depressed informal carers of stroke survivors may represent an effective and acceptable solution.

Methods/Design: This study is a Phase II (feasibility) randomized controlled trial (RCT) following guidance in the MRC Complex Interventions Research Methods Framework. We will randomize a sample of depressed informal carers of stroke survivors to receive CBT self-help supported by mental health paraprofessionals, or treatment-as-usual. Consistent with the objectives of assessing the feasibility of trial design and procedures for a potential larger scale trial we will measure the following outcomes: a) feasibility of patient recruitment (recruitment and refusal rates); (b) feasibility and acceptability of data collection procedures; (c) levels of attrition; (d) likely intervention effect size; (e) variability in number, length and frequency of support sessions estimated to bring about recovery; and (f) acceptability of the intervention. Additionally, we will collect data on the diagnosis of depression, symptoms of depression and anxiety, functional impairment, carer burden, quality of life, and stroke survivor mobility skill, self-care and functional ability, measured at four and six months post-randomization.

Discussion: This study will provide important information for the feasibility and design of a Phase III (effectiveness) trial in the future. If the intervention is identified to be feasible, effective, and acceptable, a written CBTsh intervention for informal carers of stroke survivors, supported by mental health paraprofessionals, could represent a cost-effective model of care.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN63590486.

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The Oxford Friends and Family Empowerment (OFAFE) service: support and education for those affected by friends or family with personality disorder

The Oxford Friends and Family Empowerment (OFAFE) service is a carer support service that originated in a collaboration between the Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service and the national mental health charity Rethink. OFAFE provides support and education for adults supporting an individual with a personality disorder. This paper describes the background and operation of the OFAFE service, along with the early stages of the development of a similar service for young carers, the Young Friends and Family Empowerment (YFAFE) service.

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Changes in attributions as a consequence of training for challenging and complex behaviour for carers of people with learning disabilities: a systematic review

Aim  This paper reviews the evidence for changes in carers’ attributions regarding the behaviour of people with intellectual disabilities as a consequence of carer training in challenging and complex behaviour.

Method  Papers were included in the review if they reported outcomes for carer training on the behaviour of people with intellectual disabilities and used a measure of carer attribution of the behaviour of people with intellectual disabilities. The characteristics of the scales used and the content and length of training are considered as possible factors affecting changes in attribution.

Results  Eleven papers were reviewed, most studies using behavioural curricula for their training, and none explicitly set out to change attributions. Eight of the 11 papers reviewed reported changes in attribution although core characteristics of training did not distinguish those papers that reported such changes and those that did not.

Conclusions  Changes in beliefs and attributions occur even though these are not identified as a focus within the training provided. The present authors suggest that the formulation processes involved in behavioural training may play a key part in changing attributions as a consequence of this training. The present authors discuss the potential for more focussed intervention designed to change attributions and for better alignment of measures to specific attribution change expected as a result of specific training approaches.

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The influence of social support on caregiver coping

Investigations into the act of proving care to a dementing family member typically approach the phenomenon from a stress/burden paradigm. Many studies have sought to highlight the relationship between of a range of dementia care factors (such as illness duration, patient symptoms/characteristics, service provision, etc.) and the experience of caregiver stress. Caregiving a spouse with dementing illness is complex and multidimensional (Gubrium, 1995) it is therefore not surprising that the vast majority of stressor-based approaches, though very revealing, have been largely equivocal in their findings. The relationship between the social support of family and friends and caregiver coping is no exception and therefore remains essentially unclear particularly in terms of its contribution in ameliorating stress (Thompson et al, 1993). Caregiver studies do however consistently highlight the pathogenic qualities of coping with an experience in which 'families are faced with often overwhelming and uncontrollable stress than can take a toll on their emotional health and well-being' (Zarit et al, 1998; Bourgeois et al, 1996). This article, emanating from a PhD study into caregiver coping (Upton, 2001), illuminates the study of caregiving from a different perspective. It highlights and describes how phenomenological exploration deepens our understanding of how and why spouse caregivers cope and uses the influence of social support as an exemplar of the value and need for such exploration both for its own sake and also to inform service providers. The results revealed a universal phenomenon of psycho-physical distancing by family and friends affecting all forty-six spouse caregivers included in this study. The implications of these finding are discussed along with what constituted social support for these carers. Other phenomenological insights are revealed, not least how the individual caregiver's relationship to time, space and their own identity shaped their caregiving experiences.

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Integrating people with dementia and their carers into service design

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the method of using a participatory action research (PAR) approach and offer some insight into the processes of integrated working with service users and carers. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill, 2013 (The Scottish Government, 2013) is focused on integrated and partnership working within the systems of health and social care. The author begins with a person-centred approach and explore the value of placing service user engagement for successful integrated practice. Through these reflections on PAR, the author offers some new lessons about what integration means to practitioners at the front line of service delivery.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper offers insights from a practitioner-research project which the author conducted within the author ' s own practice. It is a reflection on the process of using PAR with five people with dementia and their carers in a research project on the use of music to increase wellbeing for both the person with dementia and their carer. PAR helps to gain service user views but supports service users and providers to work in an integrated way.

Findings – This paper offers insights from a practitioner-research project which the author conducted within the author ' s own practice. It is a reflection on the process of using PAR with five people with dementia and their carers in a research project on the use of music to increase wellbeing for both the person with dementia and their carer. PAR helps to gain service user views but supports service users and providers to work in an integrated way.

Originality/value – A person-centred approach to service user participation in the research process has valuable insights for the integration of service users in the design and delivery of health and social care. The insights offered here highlight the complex processes which make-up effective engagement with service users and carers. It offers concrete details on the challenges which practitioners may face when they work to integrate service users and carers into the planning process. It also highlights the benefits of shared problem-solving and control. Practitioners already play an invaluable role in providing integrated care. This paper serves a reminder of much of what we already know and do. It also asks us to reconsider the focus of integration as a person-centred process.

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Negotiating lay and professional roles in the care of children with complex health care needs

BACKGROUND: Children with complex health care needs are now being cared for at home as a result of medical advances and government policies emphasizing community-based care. The parents of these children are involved in providing care of a highly technical and intensive nature that in the past would have been the domain of professionals (particularly nurses).

AIMS OF THE PAPER: To assess how the transfer of responsibility from professionals to parents was negotiated, the tensions and contradictions that can ensue, and the implications for professional nursing roles and relationships with parents.

DESIGN: Using a Grounded Theory methodology, in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 mothers, 10 fathers and 44 professionals to gain insight into the experience of caring for children and supporting families in the community.

FINDINGS: From the parents' perspective, their initial assumption of responsibility for the care of their child was not subject to negotiation with professionals. Prior to discharge, parents' feelings of obligations, their strong desire for their child to come home, and the absence of alternatives to parental care in the community, were the key motivating factors in their acceptance of responsibility for care-giving from professionals. The professionals participating in the study had concerns over whether this group of parents was given a choice in accepting responsibility and the degree of choice they could exercise in the face of professional power. However, it was following the initial discharge, as parents gained experience in caring for their child and in interacting with professionals, that role negotiation appeared to occur.

CONCLUSION: This study supports other research that has found that professionals' expectations of parental involvement in the care of sick children role can act as a barrier to negotiation of roles. In this study, parental choice was also constrained initially by parents' feelings of obligation and by the lack of community services. Nurses are ideally placed to play the central role not only in ensuring that role negotiation and discussion actually occurs in practice, but also by asserting the need for appropriate community support services for families. Being on home territory, and in possession of expertise in care-giving and in managing encounters with professionals, provided parents with a sense of control with which to enter negotiations with professionals. It is important that changes in the balance of power does not lead to the development of parent-professional relationships that are characterized by conflict rather than partnership.

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Assessing the effect of a complex psychosocial intervention: a methodological note on determining measurement intervals

Aim Guidelines describing how to carry out a randomised controlled trial (RCT) provide no advice concerning when to measure an intervention effect. Possibly as a result, most papers give no rationales for the time frames chosen for data collection. This paper discusses four general strategies to identify when to collect data. Furthermore, an additional individual strategy concerning the current German young carers project is presented.

Background The first German young carers project is being implemented and evaluated in a pilot study’s RCT. Organisational difficulties as well as problems accessing the field led to a delay in the research and ended with a change to the overall timeframe for data assessment. This process resulted in a discussion by the research team about whether the shorter timeframe would lead to biased data.

Discussion The authors discuss how they reviewed the literature and decided how to determine the best point to conduct follow ups with their study participants.

Conclusion The authors conclude that the standard three-month intervals used in RCTs are not necessarily applicable to psychosocial interventions and researchers should determine more appropriate intervals where possible.

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Accessing mental health services for older people in rural South Australia

Mental healthcare for older people is primarily delivered in the community with informal carers, usually family providing much of this. Older people often require input from a range of services across sectors. In Australia, the different funding and governance structures of these services makes for a complex landscape for older people, their families and mental health workers to navigate. As many people now care into later life, the consequences of not getting the required support include the potential for increased carer burden and reduced capacity to fulfil caring tasks. To help address this, partnerships between carers and service providers are recommended. We were interested in exploring rural carers' experiences of accessing care from a range of services for older people with mental health problems with the view to identify what was currently working, as well as what could be changed to improve service access, coordination of care and positive experience of care.

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Good practice in European integration: Lessons from the AIDA Project

Introduction: Interest in the integration of health and social care services has grown in recent years amongst all Governments in Europe in light of the increasing numbers of older people and those affected by chronic illnesses. This poster offers a review of the “Album of 10 Good Practices of integration at European level” carried out within the Advancing Integration for a Dignified Ageing (AIDA)- Project ( This was funded by EU Progress Program with the purpose of highlighting common aspects of effectiveness. Methods: The AIDA Project Consortium developed a criteria for selection of good practices on the basis of most relevant conceptual frameworks on integrated health and social care for older people. 28 initiatives were selected by an Advisory Board (AB) composed by five international experts in the field. The provider/ coordinator of each selected initiative (or a lead academic with an interest in the project) has provided an overview of the project, the legal and social context in which it was set, enablers and barriers, and evaluation of impact. The case-studies were then analysed to highlight success factors and impact on users, service providers and overall health and social care systems. Results:description of the case-studies

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Caring as worrying: the experience of spousal carers

Background.  With the emerging focus on home-based care, there is an increasing demand on spouses to look after their chronically ill partners at home. The theoretical aspects of caring have been much discussed in the literature, but the pragmatic aspects have received less attention. Carer stress has been explored, but little has been written about the meaning of caring to informal carers.

Aim.  The aim of this paper is to report one of the major themes that emerged from a study conducted between 1998 and 1999 to explicate the meaning of caring from the perspective of spousal carers for people with multiple sclerosis in order to shed light on and understand the challenges and demands these carers encountered.

Methodology.  An interpretive phenomenological approach was used to describe spousal carers’ experiences of caring for their partner. Ten spousal carers of people with multiple sclerosis participated. Data were collected through unstructured in-depth interviews and analysed by the method of hermeneutic analysis.

Findings.  This paper presents one of the major themes identified: ‘caring as worrying’. While the meaning of caring that emerged from this theme supports many of the philosophical understandings of caring as discussed in the literature, worrying as a care responsibility provides a further insight. Caring as worrying describes caring as a complex emotional relationship of responsibility in these participants. They worried about their partners, their relationships with their partners and their future. They also worried about their own health, institutional care, and lack of government support.

Conclusion.  Spousal carers’ worries have significant implications for health care professionals. The findings provide insight into the concerns and worries the carers of people with multiple sclerosis face when caring for their chronically ill partners at home.

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Unintended consequences: caregivers may be a barrier to the aging becoming tech savvy

"Caregivers are so overwhelmed by the demands of managing basic needs that they tend to only think of technology as tools to save time or provide safety," said Bill Novelli, founder of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative and Georgetown McDonough distinguished professor of the practice. "We need to eliminate the disconnect between the caregivers' ability to incorporate enriching technology into their care routines and their role in providing basic care for their loved ones." In addition to time constraints placed on the caregiver, the caregiver's perception of what defines successful aging focuses on the health of the adult for which they are caring. As a result, caregivers are viewing technology for aging well too narrowly and products aimed at caregivers primarily fall into the category of health and safety monitoring - which give caregivers comfort and peace of mind. 

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Communities as co-producers in integrated care

Integrated care has become too much a professionals' concept, in research and theory development, as well as in practice, especially in high-income countries. The current debate on integrated care is dominated by norms and values of professionals, while most of the care is provided by non-professionals. The paradigms of integrated care for people with complex needs need to be reconsidered. It is argued that non-professional care and care by local communities need to be incorporated as a resource and a co-producer of care. It seems fair to assume that the community as such can take a more prominent role in organising and delivering health and long-term care. This implies redefining professional and non-professional responsibilities and boundaries. The boundary between public and private space is losing its significance, as is the distinction between formal and non-formal care. It also requires renegotiating and transforming organisational boundaries. This has consequences for legislation, funding and professional qualifications, as well as for management and governance. It challenges current professional identities as well as identities of service users, their informal carers and citizens. It may also require new types of funding, including non-monetary currencies, time-sharing and social impact bonds. The challenge is that big, that it needs to be addressed at its smallest scale: the citizen in his social network and local community, being co-producer of really integrated care. 

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The invisible contract: shifting care from the hospital to the home

The ageing population and associated burgeoning health care costs have resulted in a shift of care from institutional settings to home and communitybased care. As one example, rehabilitation-in-thehome (RITH) programs are becoming increasingly prevalent. These programs either substitute or supplement in-hospital treatment by providing multidisciplinary rehabilitation and support services in the client?s own home. This paper investigates the impact of RITH programs on informal carers. Semi-structured interviews carried out with caregivers and staff revealed a complex and contradictory interpretation of informal caring. Analysis of carers? interviews revealed: an assumption by themselves and others (including RITH staff) that they would provide care; the intimate, arduous and relentless work of caring; lack of consultation about discharge; lack of recognition and reimbursement; and low levels of program support for them as carers. Carers are integral to the successful rehabilitation of the client, but they occupy a marginal status within the program. An invisible contract consigns to them substantial care-work that was previously provided by the hospital. Informal carers in RITH programs can be seen as disenfranchised care contractors. This has implications for policy makers, program managers and researchers.

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The craft of care: family care of relatives with advanced dementia

Family caregiving is attracting more attention from policy makers and service providers, but managing a chronic condition in the home is a very complex activity that usually remains invisible to health care professionals. The study's purpose was to identify strategies family caregivers used in the home to care for their relatives who have dementia. The author collected data from interviews with 18 caregivers and two health care professionals, and from participant observation in caregivers' support groups and homes. The author used constant comparison analysis and describes the Craft of Care, a category that emerged during qualitative analysis. Caregivers craft care by creating ruses in care, a language to communicate, and spaces and devices for caregiving. They sustain the humanity of the patient in the midst of a condition that tends to destroy it.

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Do older patients and their family caregivers agree about the quality of chronic illness care?

Objective: Family caregivers often accompany patients to medical visits; however, it is unclear whether caregivers rate the quality of patients' care similarly to patients. This study aimed to (1) quantify the level of agreement between patients' and caregivers' reports on the quality of patients' care and (2) determine how the level of agreement varies by caregiver and patient characteristics.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis. Participants: Multimorbid older (aged 65 and above) adults and their family caregivers (n = 247).

Methods: Quality of care was rated separately by patients and their caregivers using the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (PACIC) instrument. The level of agreement was examined using a weighted kappa statistic (Kw).

Results: Agreement of caregivers' and patients' PACIC scores was low (Kw = 0.15). Patients taking ten or more medications per day showed less agreement with their caregivers about the quality of care than patients taking five or fewer medications (Kw = 0.03 and 0.34, respectively, P < 0.05). Caregivers who reported greater difficulty assisting patients with health care tasks had less agreement with patients about the quality of care being provided when compared with caregivers who reported no difficulty (Kw = −0.05 and 0.31, respectively, P < .05). Patient–caregiver dyads had greater agreement on objective questions than on subjective questions (Kw = 0.25 and 0.15, respectively, P > 0.05).

Conclusion: Patient–caregiver dyads following a more complex treatment plan (i.e. taking many medications) or having more difficulty following a treatment plan (i.e. having difficulty with health care tasks) had less agreement. Future qualitative research is needed to elucidate the underlying reasons patients and caregivers rate the quality of care differently.

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Stereotypes about caregiving and lessons from the Swedish panorama of care

This article analyzes the panorama of care provision in Sweden from the informal carers' perspective. We consider informal care, publicly financed services, for-profit agencies and voluntary organizations, using a survey conducted in 2009. Most cared-for persons with minor needs living in a separate household are helped also by others, but only a tenth use public services or other providers. About half of cared-for persons with major needs living in a separate household receive care also from other informal carers as well as public services. Only 1 in 10 of them relied on no one else beyond the carer interviewed. Among intra household carers—a minority of all persons cared for—it was common that the carer was alone in his/her commitment, without any contributions from public services or others. For the large majority of informal carers it is not a solitary undertaking as the commitment is often shared with family members and others and/or public services. The results suggest that ideal types about complementarity and substitution may understate the complex interplay between informal care and the public services (and potential other providers). The findings may suggest a need for more empirical research about ‘Care Cultures’ and expose simplistic representations of welfare societies; informal care plays a major—and increasing—role also in Sweden, a country with extensive public services.

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Between worlds: the experiences and needs of former family carers

While the financial, physical and psycho-social burden for caregivers is recorded, less is known about the post-caring experience. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore the experiences and needs of Irish former family carers in the post-caring/care transitions period. Former family carers were defined as family members who provided physical and/or social care to a family member with an illness or disability in the home for at least 6 months prior to nursing home/hospice placement or death. A total of 40 family carers were recruited from members of or known to voluntary care groups/associations in Ireland. Fourteen participants took part in a focus group discussion and 26 participated in one-to-one, semi-structured interviews, all of which were undertaken in 2010. The focus group discussion focused on gaining a broad understanding of the participants' post-caring experiences and the emergent themes formed the basis for the development of a semi-structured interview guide. Data from the focus group were analysed inductively using Creswell's qualitative analysis framework, while template analysis was the method of analysis for the 26 individual interviews. For the participants in this study, post-caring was a transition that comprised three, interrelated, non-linear, iterative themes that were represented as ‘loss of the caring world’, ‘living in loss’ and ‘moving on’ and symbolised as being ‘between worlds’. Transition was a complex interplay of emotions overlaid with economic and social concerns that had implications for their sense of health and well-being. This exploratory study begins to address the dearth of data on post-caring/care experiences, but further research is needed to inform support interventions to enable former family carers to ‘move on’.

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The redefinition of the familialist home care model in France: the complex formalization of care through cash payment

This article investigates the impact of policy measures on the organisation of home-based care for older people in France, by examining the balance between formal and informal care and the redefinition of the initial familialist model. It focuses on the specific cash for care scheme (the Allocation personnalisée d’autonomie – Personalised allowance for autonomy) which is at the core of the French home-based care policy. The author argues that in a redefined context of ‘welfare mix’, the French public strategy for supporting home-based care in France is articulated around two major objectives, which can appear contradictory. It aims to formalise a professional care sector, with respect to the employment policy while allowing the development of new forms of informal care, which cannot be considered to be formal employment. The data collection is two-fold. Firstly, a detailed analysis was made of different policy documents and public reports, together with a systematic review of existing studies. Secondly, statistical analysis on home-based care resources were collected, which was not easy, as home-care services for older people in France are part of a larger sector of activity, ‘personal services’ (services à la personne). The article exposes three main findings. First, it highlights the complexity of the formalisation process related to the introduction of the French care allowance and demonstrates that formalisation, which facilitates the recognition of care as work, does not necessarily mean professionalisation. Second, it outlines the diversity of the resources available: heterogeneous professional care, semi-formal forms of care work with the possibility to employ a relative and informal family care. Finally, the analysis outlines the importance of the regulation of cash payments on the reshaping of formal and informal care and comments on its impact on the redefinition of informal caring activities.

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Development of a position document for home care - wound care

Introduction and description of care: The management of non-healing wounds in Europe has gone through a dramatic shift in the location of service delivery from hospital towards home care settings. As a consequence more wounds with complex pathological pictures due to untreated patient co-morbidities are treated at home. There are no guidelines available covering the subject of home-care wound-management from a clinical perspective as well as no recommendations of minimal requirement of providing best care and supporting the empowerment of informal carers and patients with non-healing wounds in the home-care setting. Methods and aim: Based on literature reviews in combination with expert opinions from across sectors and areas of expertise a document was elaborated to give an overview of the main current approaches to the organisation of wound care within home-care settings, to identify possible barriers, challenges and opportunities for providing modern, cost-efficient, interdisciplinary wound care. The document has been developed in an intersectoral collaboration across European countries and organisations between the Tissue Viability Society (UK), Initiative Chronische Wunden (Germany), HomeCare Europe and EWMA. Thus, the focus is interdisciplinary and not tied to a specific health care system. Conclusion and discussion: Describing recommendations and raising a debate of how to manage non-healing wounds at home is of crucial importance for healthcare professionals, - providers, companies and policy makers as there is a tendency in home care of going towards employment of non-registered nurses. The document underlines the importance, scope, and level of the appropriate skills and gives recommendations for the interdisciplinary set-up required for wound care in the home-care setting.

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Comparing and contrasting the role of family carers and nurses in the domestic health care of frail older people

Care in the community has been constructed on the basis of professional support for carers who, as a result of community care policy that has released highly dependent people from residential care and long-stay wards, are carrying out a wide range of tasks, including complex health care activities. The present paper examines the health care activities currently undertaken by family carers and the way in which they work with, and are supported by, professional nurses in the home. It compares and contrasts the approaches of both groups to care-giving for this client group. The authors conclude by making some suggestions for improving the way in which family carers and nurses work together in the home.

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The use of non-invasive ventilation at end of life in patients with motor neurone disease: A qualitatitve exploration of family carer and health professional experiences

Background: Non-invasive ventilation improves quality and quantity of life in patients with motor neurone disease who have respiratory failure. Use of non-invasive ventilation may, however, result in complex clinical issues for end-of-life care, with concerns as to whether and how it should be withdrawn.

Aim: This study aimed to describe carer and health professional experiences of end-of-life care of motor neurone disease patients using non-invasive ventilation.

Design/participants: This article reports data from qualitative interviews with family carers and professionals following the death of patients with motor neurone disease who were using non-invasive ventilation in the final phase of the disease.

Results: Ten of the 20 patients initiated on non-invasive ventilation were using it in the end-of-life phase of their disease, with 5 using it for 24 h/day. Interviews were carried out with nine family carers and 15 professionals. Nine recurring themes were identified in the data. Both carers and health-care professionals perceived that the terminal phase of motor neurone disease was unexpectedly rapid and that this often led to unplanned interactions with the emergency services. Carers of patients who used non-invasive ventilation perceived non-invasive ventilation as aiding patient comfort and anxiety at the end of life.

Conclusions: The use of non-invasive ventilation was described as beneficial and was not perceived by carers or most professionals to have adversely impacted patient’s end-of-life experience. This study highlights variation in patient wishes regarding usage towards the end of life, uncertainty regarding appropriate management among professionals and the importance of disseminating end-of-life wishes.

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Labor market work and home care's unpaid caregivers : a systematic review of labor force participation rates, predictors of labor market withdrawal, and hours of work

As people continue to age and receive complex health care services at home, concern has arisen about the availability of family caregivers and their ability to combine employment with caregiving. This article evaluates the international research on unpaid caregivers and their labour market choices, highlighting three conclusions: first, caregivers in general are equally as likely to be in the labour force as non-caregivers; second, caregivers are more likely to work fewer hours in the labour market than non-caregivers, particularly if their caring commitments are heavy; and finally, only those heavily involved in caregiving are significantly more likely to withdraw from the labour market than non-caregivers. Policy recommendations are targeting greater access to formal care for 'intensive' caregivers and developing workplace policies for employed caregivers.

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Tools to measure quality of life and carer burden in informal carers of heart failure patients: A narrative review

Background: Heart failure is a complex cardiac syndrome prevalent in an older population. Caring for heart failure patients through the disease trajectory presents physical and emotional challenges for informal carers. Carers have to deal with clinically unstable patients, the responsibility of managing and titrating medication according to symptoms and frequent admissions to acute care. These challenges compound the demands on caregivers’ physical and psychosocial well-being. Alongside the negative impact of being a carer, positive aspects have also been demonstrated; carers describe feelings of shared responsibility of caring with professional carers and the reward of supporting a loved one, which creates a new role in their relationship.

Aim: This review explores the dimensions that impact caregiver burden and quality of life in carers of patients with heart failure and highlights both the negative and positive aspects of being an informal carer for heart failure patients.

Design: This review followed the processes recommended for a narrative review. Studies identified were selected systematically following the PRISMA guidelines.

Data sources: Searches were conducted using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and keywords of the following search engines: MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Embase, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA), PsycINFO and Cochrane for literature published until January 2012.

Results: Quality assessment of the studies was conducted using quality indicators, and the studies included in this review were categorised as fair or good according to the criteria. Of the 1008 studies initially identified, 16 studies met the inclusion criteria. A thematic synthesis was undertaken, and the following themes were identified

  • Perceived carer control;

  • Mental and emotional well-being;

  • Types and impact of caregiving tasks;

  • Impact of patients’ physical condition;

  • Impact of age/gender/demographic factors;

  • Positive aspects of caregiving.

Conclusions: This review highlights evidence that informal carers supporting patients with heart failure face many challenges impacting their physical and mental well-being. The studies described provide an insight into the individual dimensions that make a carer particularly vulnerable, namely, younger carers, female carers and carers with existing physical and emotional health issues. Additionally, there are external influences that increase risk of burden, including New York Heart Association Score status of the patient, if the patient has had recurrent emergency admissions or has recently been discharged home and the level of social support available to the carer. A further finding from conducting this review is that there are still limited measures of the positive aspects of caregiving.

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Mental capacity and deprivation of liberty: a consultation paper

This consultation paper considers how the law should regulate deprivations of liberty involving people who lack capacity to consent to their care and treatment arrangements. Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to personal liberty and provides that no-one should be deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary fashion.

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Listening to the voices of young carers using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and a strengths-based perspective

The 2011 census suggested that 244,000 young people in England and Wales under 19 provide unpaid care for someone with an illness or disability (Office for National Statistics, 2013). Young carers are not a homogeneous population; they represent children and young people from a variety of backgrounds with diverse experiences. Young carers are described as a 'hidden population' (H.M Government, 2010) hence the prevalence of young carers may be larger than data sources reveal. Previous research has identified negative aspects of caregiving and the impact on education, social, emotional, physical health and wellbeing. Young carers seem to be a vulnerable group and marginalised population, yet there is little reference to young carers in educational psychology literature. This research sought to listen to the voices of this hidden population from a strengths-based perspective to consider if this adds to our understanding of their resilience. The research adopted an inductive constructionist approach using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Six participants aged between 11 and 13 years were recruited from a large rural Young Carers Project to attend three separate interviews. Participants were caring for a parent with a mental illness. Findings illustrated these young carers had very individual and complex lives, full of tensions, yet they found ways of managing and adapting to their situations. Implications for raising the profile of individuals with complex lives are discussed and consideration given to a sensitive, individualised and flexible response.

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Huntington disease: families' experiences of healthcare services

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of the perceptions of family caregivers regarding the availability and adequacy of health and social care services for their family member with Huntington disease, and to compare findings from these reports in United Kingdom and United States of America samples.

Background.  Huntington disease is an inherited neurodegenerative condition. Family members often take responsibility for care of relatives with long-term conditions. Studies have demonstrated there are both positive and negative outcomes for carers.

Methods.  During 2006 and 2007, respondents from the United Kingdom (n = 108) and the United States (n = 119) who were caring for a relative affected with Huntington disease completed the Community Health Care Services Scale to identify areas of concern and the extent to which specific issues bothered carers. Data were analysed using statistical tests including chi-square, t-tests and factor analysis. Results were compared between carers in the two cohorts.

Results.  Three main factors were derived: ‘community resources’, ‘individualized care’ and ‘knowledge of Huntington disease’. Carers had concerns about the knowledge of healthcare professionals providing care and thought that there were insufficient services to support them and the affected person. There were different challenges for carers when the affected person had a long-term neurodegenerative condition because these carers were also likely to have responsibilities for earning and caring for children.

Conclusion.  Comprehensive facilities and resources are needed to support families affected by long-term complex conditions. Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the health needs of carers as well as those of the affected person.

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The Government response to the consultation on revised statutory guidance to implement the Strategy for Adults with Autism in England

1. This document is a summary of the responses received during the consultation on revised statutory guidance to implement the Strategy for Adults with Autism in England. It highlights the key themes and common issues from the consultation responses and sets out the Government’s response that has shaped the statutory guidance. 2 Autism is a lifelong condition that influences how people interpret the world and interact with others. It is estimated that more than 500,000 people in England are on the autism spectrum, which includes people with high functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. Autism is something that people and their families live with permanently so gaining the right support at the right time can make a significant difference to people’s lives. 3. The statutory guidance updates the original guidance, taking into account progress made since 2010 and changes in line with recent legislation such as the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014

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The challenges associated with providing community care for people with complex heeds in rural areas: a qualitative investigation

The aim of the present study was to explore the experiences of recipients and providers of community care in rural areas in Northern Ireland. Additionally, the authors sought to examine the impact of location, housing and environmental factors on the delivery of community care to older people with complex needs. Individual, semistructured interviews were held with service users (n = 17) and family carers (n = 14). Individual and focus group interviews were conducted with care assistants, health and social care professionals, and senior managers from a large health and social care trust and health and social services board in Northern Ireland. The importance of enabling older people to remain in their own homes and communities was emphasised by all participants. The main challenges associated with care provision in rural areas included: difficulties recruiting care assistants; lack of choice of care assistants; isolation; travel and distance between clients and their care assistants; and poor housing conditions. There was a general consensus among participants that the effectiveness of rural community care was perceived to be reliant upon the goodwill of the community. Additionally, changing demographic trends and the predicted shortfall in the number of formal and informal carers were considered key issues for service planners. A number of creative strategies could be used to address many of the limitations associated with rural isolation. These should involve capitalising on available community networks. However, planners should also acknowledge that additional resources are required to maintain older people in rural communities.

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Understanding the carers' experience: Examples from a Ghanaian context

Informal carers play a key role in mental health care. This article draws on the work of Goffman to analyse the experiences of carers in Ghana. The findings illustrate the complex nature of caring and the need to develop social work practice that acknowledges the social context of carers' reality.

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"Carers behind bars": the hidden world of caring in English prisons

Taking as its starting point the establishment of the Standing Commission on Carers in 2007 and the launch of the National Strategy for Carers in 2008, this article explores who carers are and how demographic changes are likely to impact on carer numbers. It deduces that the need for care is likely to rise significantly in the near future and as such carer numbers will grow. It argues that future policy must take this, and the importance of carers themselves being supported, into account. The article's main focus is on a carer community that has remained largely hidden, that is, imprisoned people who are caring for other prisoners. The extent and nature of the rapidly increasing prison community is discussed with particular attention being drawn to prisoners' health. The high prevalence of poor health in prison is attributed to a complex combination of circumstances. Research (particularly co-author Julia Tabreham's PhD study 'Prisoners' Experience of Healthcare in England) is used to demonstrate that prisone [...]

Caring about carers: only half the picture

This article examines the government's strategy for carers and considers its significance for people in informal caring relationships. It argues that although it contains important and innovative measures, the strategy does not address adequately the complex nature of caring relationships nor does it take account of the perspectives of people who receive care. There is a danger, therefore, that the strategy will be divisive. However, the recognition that caring is a widespread activity is welcomed.

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Spatial Perspectives on Voluntarism in Learning Disability Services in Ireland

Voluntarism has moved to the centre of most western neo-liberal governments' focus in terms of welfare delivery. At the same time, very little of the social policy literature has identified specific historical, cultural and political contexts of place in shaping the particular form of voluntarism and the scale at which it takes place in a country. In order to address policy-related issues of the voluntary sector, a geographical perspective focusing on these local contexts can be very useful in unpacking how the sector can exist across regional and local scales. This article explores the rise of voluntarism in adult learning disability services in Ireland. Ireland experienced the ‘community turn’ much earlier than most Western states, in that the state advocated a ‘hands-off’ approach in learning disability services from the outset. It uses data from 40 interviews with local health agencies, voluntary organisations and informal carers. It critically examines the complex geographical factors that have contributed to the particular form of voluntarism that has evolved, thus demonstrating that understanding levels of voluntary activity requires attention to local circumstances.

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Supportive practice with carers of people with substance misuse problems

While there is increased recognition of the role of family carers in supporting adults with social care needs, some groups of carers are overlooked or hidden from professional view. Carers of people with substance misuse problems may be among this group since they are at risk of feeling guilty and stigmatised; targeting and eligibility criteria may concentrate professionals’ activities on people with high levels of need for practical support and there may be complex family dynamics where the role of carer does not fit traditional models. This article draws on a study of carers’ workers (professionals whose role entailed a specific remit to work with carers, such as carers support workers) and family carers undertaken in four areas of England. A total of 86 interviews were conducted (late 2011–2012), of which, just over a quarter (26%) involved some discussion of substance misuse. The findings were analysed thematically. The findings from the study were later reported to a focus group of practitioners and carers with experience of drug-and-alcohol support for validation in 2014. Key themes in relation to social work practice with carers of people with alcohol and other drug problems were those of insecure funding of voluntary sector carer services; balancing generic support for family carers and specific support for certain groups of carers; and feelings among carers that the drug-and-alcohol problems experienced by the person they were supporting contributed to them feeling excluded from general carers’ support. The article concludes that drug and alcohol social workers should be alert to the implications of the Care Act 2014 and its provision for carers, and that carers’ workers should be confident in being able to refer carers to appropriate support in either general or specific settings or raise this as an unmet need if such provision is not adequate locally. Social work trainers and educators should ensure they are working within evidence-based interventions to enhance professional capacity and capability.

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The experience of shame in older psychiatric patients: a preliminary enquiry

Shame is a complex set of attitudes, feelings and behaviours that tend to motivate hiding and, if provoked, can lead to conflict with others. It is also related to the exercise of power within the relationship of care and therefore may be a relevant factor if older adults are forced to accept increased dependency. There are no systematic enquiries into shame processes and older psychiatric patients. The experience of trait and situational shame and psychopathology was explored with 50 older psychiatric patients, using a range of questionnaire measures. As predicted, trait shame correlated significantly with anxiety and depression scores. There was preliminary evidence to suggest that being in need of others may be shame-provoking for some patients and may have a bearing on why some patients fear dependency, conceal symptoms and have conflicted relationships with carers.

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Caregiving burden, stress, and health effects among family caregivers of adult cancer patients

Unlike professional caregivers such as physicians and nurses, informal caregivers, typically family members or friends, provide care to individuals with a variety of conditions including advanced age, dementia, and cancer. This experience is commonly perceived as a chronic stressor, and caregivers often experience negative psychological, behavioural, and physiological effects on their daily lives and health. In this report, the authors describe the experience of a 53-year-old woman who is the sole caregiver for her husband, who has acute myelogenous leukaemia and was undergoing allogenic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. During this intense and unpredictable course, the caregiver's burden is complex and complicated by multiple competing priorities. Because caregivers are often faced with multiple concurrent stressful events and extended, unrelenting stress, they may experience negative health effects, mediated in part by immune and autonomic dysregulation. Physicians and their interdisciplinary teams are presented daily with individuals providing such care and have opportunity to intervene. This report describes a case that exemplifies caregiving burden and discusses the importance of identifying caregivers at risk of negative health outcomes and intervening to attenuate the stress associated with the caregiving experience.

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Understanding the barriers to identifying carers of people with advanced illness in primary care: triangulating three data sources

Background: Approximately 10% of the UK population have an unpaid caring role for a family member or friend. Many of these carers make a significant contribution to supporting patients at the end of life. Carers can experience poor physical and psychosocial wellbeing, yet they remain largely unsupported by health and social care services. Despite initiatives for general practices to identify carers and their needs, many remain unidentified. Neither are carers self-identifying and requesting support. This study set out to explore the barriers to, and consider strategies for, identifying carers in primary care.

Methods: We integrated findings from three data sources – a review of the caregiving literature; a workshop with researchers who have undertaken research with those caring at the end of life, and focus groups with carers and health professionals.

Results: Three categories of barrier emerged. 1) Taking on the care of another person is often a gradual process, carers did not immediately identify with being a ‘carer’ – preferring to think of themselves in relational terms to the patient e.g. spouse, sibling, son or daughter. Often it was health and social care professionals who encouraged carers to consider themselves as an unpaid carer. 2) As the cared-for person’s condition deteriorated, the caring role often became all-encompassing so that carers were managing competing demands, and felt unable to look after their own needs as well as those of the cared-for person. 3) There was ambiguity about the legitimacy of carer needs and about the role of the primary health care team in supporting carers, from both the perspective of the carers and the health professionals. GPs were thought to be reactive rather than proactive which discouraged carers from asking for help.

Conclusions: The needs of carers have to be legitimised to ensure primary care staff are proactive in their approach and carers are empowered to utilise the support available. Strategies to identify carers have to be sensitive to the complex dynamics of a caring relationship as well as the primary care context. Identification is a key factor in improving support for carers themselves and to enable them to support the patient.

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Statutory guidance for Local Authorities and NHS organisations to support implementation of the Adult Autism Strategy

The purpose of this guidance is to secure the implementation of the Adult Autism Strategy “Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives: The Strategy for Adults with Autism in England” 2010 as updated by Think Autism (2014) by giving guidance to Local Authorities, NHS Foundation Trusts and NHS bodies. The guidance focuses on the areas which section 2 of the Autism Act 20097 requires to be addressed, in each case identifying what Local Authorities, Foundation Trusts and NHS bodies are already under a duty to do under legislation, what they are expected to do under other existing guidance, and what they should do under this guidance. Local Authorities, NHS bodies and Foundation Trusts should already be doing much of what is expected of them in complying with this guidance as they should have followed the 2010 statutory guidance (which this guidance builds on and replaces). 

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The relative importance of factors affecting the choice of bathing devices

There is only a small evidence base to draw upon when choosing assistive devices. Evaluations such as those funded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency,* Department of Health, United Kingdom, generate data from which evidence-based guidelines can be compiled, but it is often difficult to determine the relative importance of the various factors involved.

To explore the relative importance of the factors related to the choice of bathing devices, the Delphi technique was employed. Thirty respondents were recruited following a formal evaluation of bath cushions and agreed to participate in the study (5 users, 10 informal carers and 15 professional care assistants), with 14 completing the process.

Three rounds were conducted, in which the respondents were asked to review a list of factors to consider when choosing bathing devices, to indicate the most important, to rank them and to comment on the results.

The safety of the user was reported to be the primary concern. The factors that eased the care assistant's task were regarded as less important, but several respondents remarked on the interrelationships between the factors. The ranking of the factors may jeopardise a comprehensive consideration of all the needs assessed, especially with people who have complex requirements. The limitations of the Delphi technique in such situations are discussed.

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'It's a huge maze, the system, it's a terrible maze': dementia carers' constructions of navigating health and social care services

Dementia is a challenging, progressive set of conditions which present a large care burden to informal, familial carers. A complex array of health and social care services are needed to support people living with dementia. Drawing on the interlinked 'Duties to Care' and 'Dementia Talking' projects, in this article we focus on British carers' talk about health and social care services. We explore data from a mixed-method questionnaire (n = 185), four focus groups and eleven interviews with informal carers of people living with dementia using thematic discourse analysis. Three themes are discussed: (1) services as a 'maze'; (2) services as overly limited - 'beyond our remit'; and (3) the battle and fighting discourse deployed by these carers. Our analysis highlights that carers find navigating systemic issues in dementia care time-consuming, unpredictable and often more difficult than the caring work they undertake.

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Networks of informal caring: a mixed-methods approach

Care for older people is a complex phenomenon, and is an area of pressing policy concern. Bringing together literature on care from social gerontology and economics, we report the findings of a mixed-methods project exploring networks of informal caring. Using quantitative data from the British Household Panel Survey (official survey of British households), together with qualitative interviews with older people and informal carers, we describe differences in formal care networks, and the factors and decision-making processes that have contributed to the formation of the networks. A network approach to care permits both quantitative and qualitative study, and the approach can be used to explore many important questions.

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Appropriate disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia: identifying the key behaviours of 'best practice'

Background: Despite growing evidence that many people with dementia want to know their diagnosis, there is wide variation in attitudes of professionals towards disclosure. The disclosure of the diagnosis of dementia is increasingly recognised as being a process rather than a one-off behaviour. However, the different behaviours that contribute to this process have not been comprehensively defined. No intervention studies to improve diagnostic disclosure in dementia have been reported to date. As part of a larger study to develop an intervention to promote appropriate disclosure, we sought to identify important disclosure behaviours and explore whether supplementing a literature review with other methods would result in the identification of new behaviours.

Methods: To identify a comprehensive list of behaviours in disclosure we conducted a literature review, interviewed people with dementia and informal carers, and used a consensus process involving health and social care professionals. Content analysis of the full list of behaviours was carried out.

Results: Interviews were conducted with four people with dementia and six informal carers. Eight health and social care professionals took part in the consensus panel. From the interviews, consensus panel and literature review 220 behaviours were elicited, with 109 behaviours over-lapping. The interviews and consensus panel elicited 27 behaviours supplementary to the review. Those from the interviews appeared to be self-evident but highlighted deficiencies in current practice and from the panel focused largely on balancing the needs of people with dementia and family members. Behaviours were grouped into eight categories: preparing for disclosure; integrating family members; exploring the patient's perspective; disclosing the diagnosis; responding to patient reactions; focusing on quality of life and well-being; planning for the future; and communicating effectively.

Conclusion: This exercise has highlighted the complexity of the process of disclosing a diagnosis of dementia in an appropriate manner. It confirms that many of the behaviours identified in the literature (often based on professional opinion rather than empirical evidence) also resonate with people with dementia and informal carers. The presence of contradictory behaviours emphasises the need to tailor the process of disclosure to individual patients and carers. Our combined methods may be relevant to other efforts to identify and define complex clinical practices for further study.

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Young adult carers: a literature review informing the re-conceptualisation of young adult caregiving in Australia

The experiences of young adult carers (YACs) have been vastly under-researched, particularly within Australian caregiving literature. This article explores the existence, extent and nature of informal young adult caregiving in Australia, defining YACs as individuals aged between 18 and 25 years who provide unpaid care or support to family members living with chronic illness or disability. The aim of this article is to provide a foundation for the re-conceptualisation of YACs as a distinct carer cohort who, without suitable recognition and specifically targeted support, may experience significantly reduced future life opportunities. The traditional, narrative-based review will first redefine YACs in accordance with overseas literary definitions and will then explore the complex nature and extent of young adult caregiving in Australia. Explanations as to why young adults are increasingly undertaking these informal caregiving roles and how YACs differentiate from their non-carer peers will then follow. Finally, three prominent paradigms, namely the clinical, social capital and carers' rights' perspectives, will be presented to establish a greater understanding of the implications, contextual experiences and unmet civil rights of YACs in Australia.

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Protecting vulnerable adults: good practice guidance and procedures

Adult abuse can occur in many different settings and situations. It is usually a very complex area of work. Therefore employees need to be aware of situations which may put a vulnerable adult at risk. This has highlighted the need for guidelines and procedures for Social Work Services, Police, Health Services, and independent providers. This multi-disciplinary approach is designed to address the abuse of vulnerable adults in community, hospital and institutional settings, with the focus on both informal and formal carers. These procedures require any responsible person to act with regard to any information which comes to their attention giving reasonable grounds to suspect that a vulnerable adult has been abused. In all instances these procedures and key steps will be followed by all agencies, units and establishments. These procedures and practice guidelines refer to cases where abuse has occurred and specific action is required to ensure the protection of the vulnerable person.

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Facilitating support groups for siblings of children with neurodevelopmental disorders using audio-conferencing: a longitudinal feasibility study

Background: Siblings of children with chronic illness and disabilities are at increased risk of negative psychological effects. Support groups enable them to access psycho-education and social support. Barriers to this can include the distance they have to travel to meet face-to-face. Audio-conferencing, whereby three or more people can connect by telephone in different locations, is an efficient means of groups meeting and warrants exploration in this healthcare context. This study explored the feasibility of audio-conferencing as a method of facilitating sibling support groups

Methods: A longitudinal design was adopted. Participants were six siblings (aged eight to thirteen years) and parents of children with complex neurodevelopmental disorders attending the Centre for Interventional Paediatric Psychopharmacology (CIPP). Four of the eight one-hour weekly sessions were held face-to-face and the other four using audio-conferencing. Pre- and post-intervention questionnaires and interviews were completed and three to six month follow-up interviews were carried out. The sessions were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematic analysis was undertaken.

Results: Audio-conferencing as a form of telemedicine was acceptable to all six participants and was effective in facilitating sibling support groups. Audio-conferencing can overcome geographical barriers to children being able to receive group therapeutic healthcare interventions such as social support and psycho-education. Psychopathology ratings increased post-intervention in some participants. Siblings reported that communication between siblings and their family members increased and siblings’ social network widened.

Conclusions: Audio-conferencing is an acceptable, feasible and effective method of facilitating sibling support groups. Siblings’ clear accounts of neuropsychiatric symptoms render them reliable informants. Systematic assessment of siblings’ needs and strengthened links between Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, school counsellors and young carers groups are warranted.

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Service framework for learning disability

This Service framework for learning disabilities is one of a set of Service Frameworks which sets out standards for health and social care to be used by service users and carers, to help them understand the standard of care they can expect to receive in Northern Ireland. The Service Framework for Learning Disability aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people with a learning disability and their carers and families by promoting social inclusion, reducing inequalities in health and social wellbeing and improving the quality of health and social care services. The Framework sets standards in relation to: Safeguarding and Communication and Involvement in the Planning and Delivery of Services; Children and Young People; Entering Adulthood; Inclusion in Community Life; Meeting General Physical and Mental Health Needs; Meeting Complex Physical and Mental Health Needs; At Home in The Community; Ageing Well; and Palliative and End of Life Care. 

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Role recognition and changes to self-identity in family caregivers of people with advanced cancer: a qualitative study

Purpose: Family caregivers of people with advanced cancer can provide extensive support to the patient. However, the role is not well defined and their experiences are poorly understood. This study aimed to explore how caregivers view their role and the impact of their caregiving.

Methods: A symbolic interactionist framework guided the in-depth individual interviews and grounded theory methodology was used to analyse the data. A total of 17 interviews were conducted: 13 with active caregivers and 4 with bereaved caregivers.

Results: Three dominant codes are presented. Caregivers lacked role recognition, as they struggled to recognise their role existed, even though they took on extensive and challenging tasks. Caregivers reported substantial loss or changes to their self-identity: with some caregivers reporting not being able to stop thinking about caregiving and others having difficulty answering questions about themselves. Caregivers also demonstrated difficulty in taking a break: active caregivers did not consider taking a break, whereas bereaved caregivers retrospectively admitted needing a break but reported an inability to take one.

Conclusions: Caregiving is complex and extensive. People who care for those with advanced cancer are in need of intervention to provide support and assistance to them in their role. However, this needs to be structured with consideration for how caregivers view their role.

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Implementing and evaluating the first german young-carers project: intentions, pitfalls and the need for piloting complex interventions

The aim of the study was to develop, implement and evaluate a concept for the first support program for young carers and their families in Germany. This paper intends to critically review the implementation of that study and describe the problems experienced by the research team, including: the complexity of the intervention itself, the difficulty of finding host organizations, the lack of infrastructure, different values and beliefs about the project aims held between the host organization and the research team, shortage of time, identifying and recruiting families among the hidden population of young carers. These initial problems led to the re-constructuring of the original research design. In order to evaluate factors that influenced these difficulties, the original research intentions, emerging problems and their consequences will be presented.;

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Skills social care workers need to support personalisation

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider what implications the government's policy of personalisation has for social care workers in terms of the skills that they need to achieve more personalised support for people using services and family carers.

Design/methodology/approach – A total of 86 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a purposeful sample of social care commissioners, family carers, representatives of voluntary organisations and carers’ workers based in four contrasting localities in England.

Findings – Participants highlighted the need for social care workers to have more specialist knowledge both about different complex health conditions and about services in their locality. The need to offer tailored support to carers that took account of the time they had been caring and the particular issues that they faced in terms of the health problems that the person for whom they cared was emphasised. The relational aspects of care are important.

Research limitations/implications – This was an exploratory study and may need to be replicated before generalisations could be made.

Originality/value – Existing published research on personalisation rarely discusses its implications for the social care workforce in terms of their skills. There is also still only a limited literature looking at personalisation from the perspective of family carers and those working with family carers

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Piece of my mind

Commissioning mental health is a complex area and expertise is varied. This article explains 'Values based' commissioning, which aims to put users' views at the heart of reshaping services. Values based commissioning aims to take a fresh look at what kind of services should be commissioned and why, with service users and carers working jointly with commissioners to lead commissioning decisions.

Estimating the costs of informal care for people with Alzheimer's disease: methodological and practical challenges

In Alzheimer's disease and related disorders estimates of informal care costs have been neglected and when included in cost of illness studies, valuations have been highly variable. This illustrates the need to standardise the methodology not only for valuing formal, but also informal care costs. Methods used for valuing informal care are identified, together with theoretical and practical challenges in measurement. In particular the measurement of time and it's associated satisfaction or utility is complex and valuations of time need to consider aspects of the caregiving experience which influence the marginal valuation of the time spent caring. Argues that more empirical work is required to elicit information on both the positive and negative satisfaction associated with caregiving and to incorporate this into valuations of the costs related to informal care.

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The New Caring

Increasing longevity and the growing proportion of the aged in the population in most countries have served to focus on the question of how governments and older people can finance living, health, and care options in retirement. Prudent management of income and assets is an increasingly complex and important aspect of aging as assets and expectations of self-financing increase. Although many informal caregivers act as asset managers and/or substitute decision-makers for older people, little attention has been paid to this increasingly important aspect of care. This paper summaries key findings of a broad research program exploring family involvement in the management of older people's assets and the practices that constitute good practice as well as financial mismanagement and abuse. It identifies multi-level and multi-strategy responses needed to address the issues raised by the research and outlines an innovative community demonstration project aimed at improving financial management practices in relation to older people's assets.

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Rethinking Intervention Strategies in Stroke Family Caregiving

Stroke is a condition that affects both patients and family members who provide care and support. Because stroke is an unexpected traumatic event that suddenly forces family members into a caregiving role, caregivers often experience an overwhelming sense of burden, depression, and isolation; a decline in physical and mental health; and reduced quality of life. Caregiver health is inextricably linked to a stroke survivor's physical, cognitive, and psychological recovery. Evidence suggests that informational interventions alone are not as effective in meeting the complex needs of stroke caregivers as interventions that combine information with other support services. This article discusses issues related to stroke caregiving and proposes comprehensive strategies designed to meet the poststroke recovery needs of both patients and caregivers. Suggested strategies include a comprehensive assessment specific to caregiver needs, skills, and resources and case management services designed to provide continuity of care across the stroke-recovery trajectory.

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Illness careers and continuity of care in mental health services: a qualitative study of service users and carers

Continuity of care is considered by patients and clinicians as an essential feature of good quality care in long-term disorders, yet there is general agreement that it is a complex concept and the lack of clarity in its conceptualisation and operationalisation has been linked to a deficit of user involvement. In this paper we utilise the concept of the ‘patient career’ to frame patient accounts of their experiences of the mental health care system. We aimed to capture the experiences and views of users and carers focusing on the meanings associated with particular (dis)continuities and transitional episodes that occurred over their illness career. As part of a large longitudinal study of continuity of care in mental health a sub-sample of 31 users was selected together with 14 of their carers. Qualitative interviews framed around the service user's illness career explored general experiences of relationship with services, care, continuity and transition from both user and carer perspectives. Five key themes emerged: relational (dis)continuity; depersonalised transitions; invisibility and crisis; communicative gaps and social vulnerability. One of the important findings was the fragility of continuity and its relationship to levels of satisfaction. Supportive, long-term relationships could be quickly undermined by a range of factors and satisfaction levels were often closely related to moments of transition where these relationships were vulnerable. Examples of continuity and well managed transitions highlighted the importance of professionals personalising transitions and situating them in the context of the daily life of service users. Further research is required to identify how best to negotiate these key points of transition in the future.

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Caring for carers of people with stroke: developing a complex intervention following the Medical Research Council framework

Objective: To develop an intervention, using the first three phases of the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for complex interventions, to facilitate coping skills in new carers of stroke patients.

Methods: In the preclinical (theoretical) phase, a theoretically based framework for a small group course for carers of people with stroke was developed. The intervention was grounded in a cognitive behavioural model and included carers' needs identified from a literature review. Phase I (modelling phase) comprised a qualitative study involving one-to-one semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of informal carers of people with stroke. Following this, the intervention was modified. In phase II (exploratory phase), the modified intervention was delivered by a clinical psychologist and stroke nurse practitioner to five carers. Following postcourse interviews the course was further refined and delivered to seven new carers who subsequently completed a satisfaction questionnaire.

Results: Carers' needs identified from the literature included information provision; managing emotions; social support; health maintenance; and practical problem solving. Consultation with existing carers confirmed these as important issues with a strong emphasis on finding niches of control in life, becoming an expert carer, and dealing with emotional upheaval. Participants reported feeling more optimistic and empowered subsequent to the course.

Conclusions: The MRC framework provided a useful methodology for the development of a complex intervention. The course aimed to assist carers to regain control over aspects of their lives and manage their emotions. It was feasible to run and acceptable to carers; however a randomized controlled trial (RCT) is required to evaluate its effectiveness.

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Managing the body work of home care

Body work is a key element of home healthcare. Recent restructuring of health and social care services means the home is increasingly a key site of long-term care. While there is a growing literature on the social dynamics between care recipients and their family caregivers, less is known about the formal work dynamic between paid care workers and care recipients and family caregivers. Drawing on interview data from an Ontario-based study of long-term home care, we explore how body work is negotiated through the embodied practices of care in the home and through care relationships associated with home care. In particular we focus on how the practices of intimate body care (such as bathing, toileting, and catheter management) show the diverse dynamics of care work through which caregivers, care recipients and homespace are constituted. We argue that the practices of care are shaped by a complex interweaving of regulatory mechanisms associated with home care along with the physical and affective dimensions of intimate body work. In turn this suggests the need for new ways of understanding body work in contemporary landscapes of care.

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Nurses' experience of delivering a supportive intervention for family members of patients with lung cancer

Families contribute to maintaining the well-being of people with cancer through providing emotional and practical support, frequently at significant cost to their own well-being, and often with little help from healthcare professionals. This paper describes nurses' experience of providing an innovative service to support the families of people with lung cancer. A process of group reflection by the three nurses involved in delivering the intervention has produced an autoethnographic account of taking part in this study. Three main themes relating to the nature and process of delivering the intervention were identified: ‘meeting diverse need’, ‘differing models of delivery’ and ‘dilemma and emotion’. Supporting family members of patients with lung cancer can be immensely rewarding for nurses and potentially bring significant benefit. However, this kind of work can also be demanding in terms of time and emotional cost. These findings demonstrate the value of incorporating process evaluation in feasibility studies for articulating, refining and developing complex interventions. Determining the applicability and utility of the intervention for other practice settings requires further evaluation.

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The pressures felt by informal carers of people with dementia

Caring for people with dementia is complex and demanding, and informal carers carry out much of the care. In this article, Madeline Armstrong outlines the different types of dementia and discusses the psychological approaches to care. Informal carers experience many stressors when caring for people with dementia and Admiral nurses play an important role in supporting carers.

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Carer assessment : continuing tensions and dilemmas for social care practice

Since the early 1990s, UK social care policy has committed to supporting carers. Legislation (England and Wales) over this time period has recognised the importance of separate carer assessments that take into account an individual's ability and willingness to care. This paper considers carer assessment from the perspective of social care practitioners. It reports on qualitative data from a carer research programme that spans over 20 years (1993 to present) and includes 383 in-depth interviews with social care practitioners across England and Wales. Offering unique longitudinal insights, we identify some persistent tensions associated with the translation of UK carer assessment policy into social care practice. We explore practitioners' long-standing ambivalence towards carer assessment and their reluctance to evidence carer need via a separate assessment process. Deficits relating to the conduct of carer assessment are identified. For example, the reliance on structured, problem-focused assessment protocols that restrict discussions to the personal care aspects of caring and fail to capture the complex, diverse lives that carers lead. Carer assessments do not reflect the reciprocal nature of many caring relationships, as a one-way direction of care is assumed. They do not take into account the broader support network of individuals who may be involved in helping someone with complex care needs. Carer willingness to care continues to be taken for granted and planning for the future is a significant gap in carer assessment practice. The proposed changes to the social care systems across England and Wales provide a timely opportunity to review the process and conduct of carer assessment. Policy guidance needs to clarify the links between service user and carer assessments and the way these align within broader assessment and care management frameworks. Assessment tools that encourage a narrative approach to carer assessment and capture the affective aspects of care-giving could benefit future practice.

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'Sustaining Place' - a grounded theory of how informal carers of people with dementia manage alterations to relationships within their social worlds

Aims and objectives: This paper presents a theory explaining the processes used by informal carers of people with dementia to mange alterations to their, and people with dementias' relationships with and places within their social worlds.

Background: Informal carers provide the majority of care to people with dementia. A great deal of international informal dementia care research is available, much of which elucidates the content, impacts and consequences of the informal caring role and the coping mechanisms that carers use. However, the socially situated experiences and processes integral to informal caring in dementia have not yet been robustly accounted for.

Design: A classic grounded theory approach was used as it is designed for research enquiries that aim to generate theory illustrating social patterns of action used to address an identified problem.

Methods: Thirty interviews were conducted with 31 participants between 2006–2008. The theory was conceptualised from the data using the concurrent methods of theoretical sampling, constant comparative analysis, memo writing and theoretical sensitivity.

Results: Informal carers' main concern was identified as ‘Living on the fringes’, which was stimulated by dementia-related stigma and living a different life. The theory of ‘Sustaining Place’ explains the social pattern of actions employed by informal carers to manage this problem on behalf of themselves and the person with dementia.

Conclusions: The theory of ‘Sustaining Place’ identifies an imperative for nurses, other formal carers and society to engage in actions to support and enable social connectedness, social inclusion and citizenship for informal carers and people with dementia.

Relevance to clinical practice: ‘Sustaining Place’ facilitates enhanced understanding of the complex and socially situated nature of informal dementia care through its portrayal of informal carers as social agents and can be used to guide nurses to better support those who live with dementia.

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Using simulations and experiential learning approaches to train carers of seniors

To tackle the problem of training the careers of senior citizens numerous educational options may be attempted. However, the emerging complex puzzle of the diversity of training needs for the aforementioned trainee group, consisting of a mixture of formal and informal careers, calls for a careful and perhaps more radical than the usually attempted approach. To this extent, this paper describes elements of the innovative efforts followed upon the training design of the DISCOVER EU project. Specifically, simulations of virtual patients in Second Life are exploited in conjunction with educational components and objects in semantically extended e-learning environments, in an attempt to make more realistic everyday training cases and diverse topic, content rich approaches. The whole endeavor is presented in view of the existing limitations to elderly careers' training and is soon to lend itself to a rigorous pilot phase in Greece. Planned evaluation sessions are envisaged to certify successes, to inform for any required improvements but also to identify pitfalls.

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Patient and carer perceptions of case management for long-term conditions

Nurse-led case management programmes have become increasingly popular over the last 15 years. Countries such as the USA, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands have long running case management programmes in place for frail elderly people. The Department of Health in England has recently introduced a 'community matron' role to provide case management to patients with highly complex long-term conditions; a group that is predominantly comprised of elderly people. Department of Health policy documents do not define the day-to-day role of community matrons but instead describe the objectives and principles of case management for long-term conditions. The aim of this qualitative study was to describe case management from the perspective of patients and carers in order to develop a clearer understanding of how the model is being delivered for patients with long-term conditions. In-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 72 patients and 52 carers who had experience of case management. Five categories of case management tasks emerged from the data: clinical care, co-ordination of care, education, advocacy and psychosocial support. Psychosocial support was emphasised by both patients and carers, and was viewed as equally important to clinical care. Patient and carer perceptions of case management appear to contrast with descriptions contained in Department of Health guidance, suggesting an 'implementation surplus' in relation to the policy. This particularly appears to be the case for psychosocial support activities, which are not described in official policy documents. The provision of significant psychosocial support by community matrons also appears to differentiate the model from most other case management programmes for frail elderly people described in the literature. The findings emphasise the importance of seeking patient and carer input when designing new case management programmes.

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Adult social care: a consultation paper

This consultation paper reviews the law relating to adult social care in England and Wales. Current law has been identified as complex and outdated and these proposals aim to establishing a simple, consistent, transparent and modern framework. The paper is in 14 parts. Part 2 considers the approach to the reform of adult social care law. Parts 3 to 10 are concerned with how social services decide on what services to provide. Areas discussed include: community care assessments; carers' assessments; eligibility for services; Section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948 and Section 2(1) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; ordinary residence; scope of adult care services; delivery of services. Parts 11 to 13 looks at more general issues in social care law such as joint working; safeguarding adults at risk; and strategic planning. The provisional proposals are set out in Part 14. The consultation period ends on 1 July 2010.

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Evaluation of informal carers of persons with dementia

Caring for an older adult with dementia at home, is a complex process that creates chronic stress, affecting to a greater or lesser degree the physical and mental health of caregivers, so the evaluation of objective and subjective burden, as well as stressors and ways to tackle them, should not be absent in the Occupational Therapy evaluation, not to mention the family member-caregiver dyad. The preliminary results of the stage of reality immersion, have allowed constituting a sample which initiates the collection of data through in depth interviews and life histories.

Explaining the use and non-use of community-based long-term care services by caregivers of persons with dementia

The purpose of this paper is to synthesize and critically evaluate the current literature that explains the use and non-use of formal community-based long-term care services by caregivers of persons with dementia. There are four issues related to formal community service use by caregivers: reluctance to initiate formal services; under-utilization of available services; delayed utilization of services; and inappropriate utilization of services. Despite substantial research efforts to understand these issues, the reasons for low rates of community service use by this population remains unclear. Common methodological problems and limitations in the underlying theoretical assumptions in the literature, as they relate to caregivers of persons with dementia, have limited the usefulness of the current research for informing practice and policy. A conflict-theory model of decision-making is proposed as an alternative theoretical framework for understanding the particularity and complexity of the decision-making process leading up to the initiation of formal service use. Utilization of formal services is a result of a complex and subjective decision-making process that is unrelated to objective circumstances. The proposed conflict theory model of decision-making can inform policy and practice regarding the development of appropriate, timely and individualized interventions to facilitate the use of formal services by caregivers of persons with dementia.

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Statement on policy and practice for adults with a learning disability

All Wales People First has been actively involved in preparing this Statement on Policy and Practice for Adults with a Learning Disability. This has been a welcome opportunity for people with learning disabilities to get directly involved in policy making. We were able to give our very valuable viewpoint which reflects the desires, hopes, dreams, wants and needs of people with learning disabilities. Our involvement has come about through our membership of the Learning Disability Implementation Advisory Group that was set up by the Welsh Assembly Government following its response to the Fulfilling the Promises report. Many different groups, including parents, carers, and health, social services and education professionals, have been involved in producing this statement. It is a vision for everyone involved with learning disability. The Statement on Policy and Practice will help to make it more possible for people with learning disabilities to become included in community living and have more opportunities to develop our own lifestyles. We want to build bridges between us and the world out there and we see this as a two way process. We want people to understand us better and value us. We can make a valuable contribution to the community and we can help people in the community to recognise us as valued citizens. Making these links, would make the community safer for all

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The clinical and cost effectiveness of a Breathlessness Intervention Service for patients with advanced non-malignant disease and their informal carers: mixed findings of a mixed method randomised controlled trial

Background: Breathlessness is the most common and intrusive symptom of advanced non-malignant respiratory and cardiac conditions. The Breathlessness Intervention Service (BIS) is a multi-disciplinary complex intervention, theoretically underpinned by a palliative care approach, utilising evidence-based non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions to support patients with advanced disease in managing their breathlessness. Having published the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of BIS for patients with advanced cancer and their carers, we sought to establish its effectiveness, and cost effectiveness, in advanced non-malignant conditions.

Methods: This was a single-centre Phase III fast-track single-blind mixed method RCT of BIS versus standard care for breathless patients with non-malignant conditions and their carers. Randomisation was to one of two groups (randomly permuted blocks). Eighty-seven patients referred to BIS were randomised (intervention arm n = 44; control arm n = 43 received BIS after four-week wait); 79 (91 %) completed to key outcome measurement. The primary outcome measure was 0–10 numeric rating scale for patient distress due to breathlessness at four weeks. Secondary outcome measures were Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Client Service Receipt Inventory, EQ-5D and topic-guided interviews.

Results: Qualitative analyses showed the positive impact of BIS on patients with non-malignant conditions and their carers; quantitative analyses showed a non-significant greater reduction in the primary outcome (‘distress due to breathlessness’), when compared to standard care, of –0.24 (95 % CI: –1.30, 0.82). BIS resulted in extra mean costs of £799, reducing to £100 when outliers were excluded; neither difference was statistically significant. The quantitative findings contrasted with those previously reported for patients with cancer and their carers, which showed BIS to be both clinically and cost effective. For patients with non-malignant conditions there was a notable trend of improvement over both trial arms to the key measurement point; participants may have experienced a therapeutic effect from the research interviews, diluting the intervention’s impact.

Conclusions: BIS had a statistically non-significant effect for patients with non-malignant conditions, and slightly increased service costs, but had a qualitatively positive impact consistent with findings for advanced cancer. Trials of palliative care interventions should consider multiple, mixed method, primary outcomes and ensure that protocols limit potential contaminating therapeutic effects in study designs.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN04119516 (December 2008); NCT00678405 (May 2008)

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The quality of life of female informal caregivers: from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean Sea

We analyse the impact of the provision of care on the health and quality of life (QoL) of adult female informal caregivers using a representative sample drawn from the survey of health, ageing and retirement in Europe (SHARE). We match each informal caregiver with a non-carer using propensity score matching and test whether matched individuals differ on self-assessed health and a functional indicator of QoL and whether this relationship differs across European regions. We find a North–South gradient both for self-assessed health and QoL, and our results show that the provision of caregiving to close relatives in Europe impacts on the caregivers’ QoL and health in a way that depends on their geographical location, the degree of formal care and specific cultural and social factors of the area. We find that informal caregiving is a complex phenomenon which may bring both psychological rewards and distress to providers of care and this complexity, along with the geographical gradient highlight the importance of ensuring that policies match the needs of individual carers in their own geographical areas and cultural contexts.

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Good support for people with complex needs: what does it look like and where is the evidence?

The growing population of people with complex needs who require social care makes it important to find out what is the best way to support them. We looked at this question, interrogating the available research evidence, and also talking to the people directly concerned about what they want from social care. Our findings come from a large-scale literature search of all the current UK research evidence on this subject. We also listened to people with complex needs, their carers, and members of specialist organisations about what works best.

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Exploring factors that influence informal caregiving in medication management for home hospice patients

Objective: To explore factors that influence how informal caregivers manage medications as part of caring for hospice patients.

Methods: Semistructured, open-ended interviews were conducted with 23 informal caregivers and 22 hospice providers from 4 hospice programs in the Chicago metropolitan areas. Qualitative analysis was conducted consistent with the grounded theory approach.

Results: In general, informal caregivers and hospice providers identified similar key factors that facilitated or impeded caregivers' process in managing medications. Caregivers' life experience and self-confidence were considered assets that facilitated medication management. Limitations impeding the process included caregivers' negative emotional states, cognitive and physical impairments, low literacy, other competing responsibilities, as well as patients' negative emotional states and complex medication needs. Furthermore, the social context of medication management emerged as a salient theme: caregivers' good interpersonal relations with patients facilitated medication management, whereas poor communication/relations among caregivers within a support network impeded the process. While both study groups discussed the positive attributes of good caregiver–patient relations and support from multiple caregivers, hospice providers were cautious about the potential adverse influence of close relations with patients on caregivers' decision making about medications and discussed poor communication/relations among informal and privately hired caregivers that often resulted from family conflicts and/or a lack of long-standing leadership.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest additional intervention points, beyond knowledge and skill building, that could be addressed to support caregivers in executing medication responsibilities at home for hospice patients.

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Minding the money: a growing responsibility for informal carers

Managing the assets of older people is a common and potentially complex task of informal care with legal, financial, cultural, political and family dimensions. Older people are increasingly recognised as having significant assets, but the family, the state, service providers and the market have competing interests in their use. Increased policy interest in self-provision and user-charges for services underline the importance of asset management in protecting the current and future health, care and accommodation choices of older people. Although ‘minding the money’ has generally been included as an informal care-giving task, there is limited recognition of either its growing importance and complexity or of care-givers' involvement. The focus of both policy and practice have been primarily on substitute decision-making and abuse. This paper reports an Australian national survey and semi-structured interviews that have explored the prevalence of non-professional involvement in asset management. The findings reveal the nature and extent of involvement, the tasks that informal carers take on, the management processes that they use, and that ‘minding the money’ is a common informal care task and mostly undertaken in the private sphere using some risky practices. Assisting informal care-givers with asset management and protecting older people from financial risks and abuse require various strategic policy and practice responses that extend beyond substitute decision-making legislation. Policies and programmes are required: to increase the awareness of the tasks, tensions and practices surrounding asset management; to improve the financial literacy of older people, their informal care-givers and service providers; to ensure access to information, advice and support services; and to develop better accountability practices.

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Anatomy of an Illness: Control from a caregiver’s perspective

Caregivers of loved ones with chronic illnesses experience an uncontrollable challenge with potentially negative behavioral and medical consequences. Extensive research has demonstrated immune and endocrine regulation can be significantly disrupted by negative behavioral factors based on both animal models and human studies. However, fewer studies have focused on how psychosocial interventions might reverse the negative consequences of stressors such as caregiving. The distress of caring for individuals with cancer has only recently begun to receive attention. These interventions addressing caregiver distress are rare overall and caregivers of patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT) have received even less attention. HSCT caregivers report feelings of loss of control. Animal studies suggest that control over aversive events can mitigate the negative consequences of stressors. Caregivers of allogeneic HSCT patients for blood cancers must be available 24/7 for three months or longer following stem cell infusion to closely monitor the recipients’ health and well-being. Does establishing a greater sense of control have positive impacts on caregivers? A randomized control trial of a cognitive behavioral stress management intervention for allogeneic HSCT caregivers is briefly described. A model of caregiver mental health which may potentially impact the patient’s quality of life is proposed. These relationships exist in a complex system that includes genetic influences, sex, social environment, and prior experience. This system fits well within recent formulations of a “complexity science” approach to health and well-being.

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Informal care, health and mortality

Informal care provision is an activity in which individuals are increasingly likely to become involved across their life course, and particularly in later life, as a result of demographic changes such as increasing longevity and changes in co-residential living arrangements in later life. Academic research so far has highlighted the adverse impact of informal care provision on the financial position of the carer, however, the evidence on the impact of informal care provision on the carer's physical, mental and emotional health, and on their mortality, presents a more complex picture. This paper reviews research from the UK and beyond on the provision of informal care and its subsequent impact on health and mortality outcomes. Two key findings emerge from this review paper. Firstly, the cross-sectional analysis of data shows mixed associations between informal care provision and poor health outcomes for the carer. Such research highlights the importance of the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the carer and the person cared for, and of the specific characteristics and nature of the care provided (e.g. duration, level). Secondly, longitudinal analysis, which typically benefits from a longer timeframe to follow up the impact of caring, shows that although informal care provision is not per se associated with adverse health and mortality outcomes, nevertheless particular types and durations of caring have shown negative outcomes.

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The family caregivers journey in end-of-life care: Recognizing and identifying with the role of carer

The process of dying in the 21(st) Century is often protracted. An aging population and increasing long-term conditions have resulted in a need for increased palliative and end-of-life care. Formal healthcare services are unable to fully provide the level of support required at the end of life. Increasingly therefore, family caregivers are being relied upon to provide often complex interactions and support to people who are dying. More is now understood about the activities they engage in and their potential support needs, yet, the carer role is an elusive concept that many carers in palliative and end-of-life care settings do not recognize or identify with. This situation has implications for the interactions they may share with health and social care professionals. Drawing on current literature; policy, and a qualitative study of the perceptions of family caregivers in a palliative care setting, this paper will seek to consider the role of family caregivers in palliative care settings and to explore the ways in which health and social care practitioners can assist them in undertaking this role.

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Family caregivers: A shadow workforce in the geriatric health care system?

Based on two years of fieldwork, conducted between March 2003 and March 2005 in the health care industry of the northeastern United States, this study shows that the work of family caregivers of elders goes far beyond previously recognized care in the home to acknowledge care inside health care facilities and in conjunction with community services. It reveals that family caregivers — untrained, undersupported, and unseen — constitute a “shadow workforce,” acting as geriatric case managers, medical record keepers, paramedics, and patient advocates to fill dangerous gaps in a system that is uncoordinated, fragmented, bureaucratic, and often depersonalized. Detailed examination of what family caregivers actually do in traversing multiple domains reveals the extent of their contribution to and the weaknesses in the present geriatric health care system. It suggests that the experiences of family caregivers must be central to the creation of new policies and a more coordinated system that uses the complex work of family caregivers by providing the training and support that they need.

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The complex nature of informal care in home-based heart failure management

Aim. This paper is a report of a study to examine the complexities of informal caregiving for people with chronic heart failure. Background. Little is known of the activities involved and underlying informal care. Heart failure is a common and burdensome condition in which carers play an important management role. Method. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 30 informal carers nominated by patients with mild-to-moderate heart failure (24 spouses, four children, one sibling and one neighbour). Interviews examined knowledge of heart failure, its effects, reported management practices and concerns, decision making and support. The data were collected in 2001. Findings. The management of heart failure was a shared and ongoing responsibility between the carer and patient. Carers’ clinical knowledge of the condition and management was often limited, but they developed extensive knowledge of its personal effects on the patient. Invisible care activities included monitoring signs of symptom exacerbation and energy boundaries against perceived current and future demands and priorities. Visible care activities included medication management, dressing, bathing and help-seeking. Carers responded to patients’ capacities, and adopted philosophies that sought to foster independence while facilitating as normal a life for the patient as was possible and safe. Conclusion.  Interventions for informal carers around effective chronic heart failure management should address both visible and invisible informal caring. Future research is needed to develop interventions with carers to improve quality of care, reduce costs and improve patient quality of life. More research is needed to explore the complexities of lay caregiving and to explore the invisible dimensions of informal care further.

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Addressing the needs of caregivers of cancer patients in general practice: a complex intervention

Background This study aimed to develop an innovation to assist general practitioners (GPs) in Australia to proactively address the needs of caregivers of people with cancer. Method Six GPs were video recorded each consulting six actor-patients in their respective practices. All cases depicted caregivers of people with cancer. The patients were instructed to complete a Needs Assessment Tool for Caregivers (NAT-C), before the consultation. Actor-patients were instructed to present the NAT-C to three of the six GPs they consulted, selected at random. Two assessors independently reviewed each consultation performance using the Leicester Assessment Package (LAP). The practitioners and actor-patients focused on the value of the NAT-C and how it could be deployed to best effect in a subsequent ‘stimulated recall session’. ResultsThirty-four consultations were successfully recorded. The mean duration of consultations was 13 min. 47 sec. (range 6 min. 3 sec. to 22 min. 51 sec.). GPs differed in core competencies as measured by the LAP (P0.001), range 37–92%. However, they demonstrated no significant differences in performance (LAP scores) analysed by scenario (P = 0.99). The ‘generalised estimating equation’ (GEE) model identified an improved LAP score in consultations in which the NAT-C was used (average of 3.3 points; 95% CI: –3.99, 10.6), after controlling for the different GPs and scenarios, but this improvement was not statistically significant (P = 0.37). The participants felt that the NAT-C was beneficial and suggested how it could be further refined. Conclusions If this innovation had been formally tested in a randomised trial without assessing its impact on the consultation there might have been significant difficulties with administering the intervention in practice.

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Effect of the Meeting Centres Support Program on informal carers of people with dementia: results from a multi-centre study

Because of the complex nature of the problems that carers of persons with dementia encounter, several comprehensive support programs for carers were developed in the past decade. One such program is the Meeting Centres Support Program (MCSP) that integrates different types of support for persons with dementia and their carers, which have proved to be effective in practice and/or research. Within the framework of a study into the national implementation of the MCSP, it was investigated whether the positive effects found in carers that participated in the first Amsterdam Meeting Centres, were also achieved in other regions of The Netherlands. A pre-test–post-test control group design with matched groups was applied. In total, 94 carers in the MCSP in eight meeting centres and 34 carers of dementia patients who frequented regular psychogeriatric day care (PDC) in three nursing homes were included in the study. During the study period 23 carers of the MCSP group and 21 carers of the PDC group dropped out. At baseline and after seven months indicators of burden (psychological and psychosomatic symptoms, feelings of burden and time between start of support and institutionalization of the persons with dementia) were measured, as well as potential determinants of burden (sense of competence, coping strategies, experienced support, loneliness and the emotional impact of behaviour problems). Though on a group level no effect was found, either in psychological and psychosomatic symptoms or in the determinants of burden, a subgroup of carers who felt lonely (n = 22) at baseline benefited significantly more from the MCSP than from PDC in terms of psychological and psychosomatic symptoms. A majority of MCSP carers (82.1%) experienced less burden and more professional support. After seven months significantly fewer persons with dementia in the MCSP (4%) were institutionalized as compared to the patients in PDC (29%). Patients in the MCSP participated for a longer period of time before institutionalization. Although the effect on sense of competence of carers that was found in the Amsterdam study was not found in this multi-centre study, the effect on burden and delayed institutionalization of the person with dementia were confirmed. The integrated MCSP also proved more effective than PDC in decreasing psychological and psychosomatic symptoms in lonely carers. Further dissemination of the MCSP is therefore recommended.

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Caregiver-coping in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia: a re-examination

Background: The caregiving experience has been extensively investigated in some chronic/severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. These studies have suggested that illness variables and situational/personal characteristics of caregivers have a significant influence on how caregivers cope with mental illness. However, other similar conditions, e. g. bipolar affective disorder (BPAD), have been relatively neglected in this regard. This study attempted to compare caregiver-coping in BPAD and schizophrenia and to explore the determinants of such coping.

Method: Illness variables and coping, burden, appraisal, perceived support, and neuroticism among caregivers were examined in 50 patients each of BPAD and schizophrenia and their caregivers.

Results: High levels of patient-dysfunction and caregiver-burden, low awareness of illness and low perceived control over patient’s behaviour were characteristic of both BPAD and schizophrenia, with no significant differences between the two groups on these parameters. Coping patterns were also quite alike, though caregivers of patients with schizophrenia were using some emotion-focused strategies significantly more often. Caregiver’s gender, patient-dysfunction and caregiver-neuroticism had a significant influence on coping patterns, but explained only a small proportion of the variance in use of different coping strategies.

Conclusions: Coping and other elements of the caregiving experience in BPAD are no different from schizophrenia. The relationship between caregiver-coping and its determinants appears to be a complex one. More methodologically sound and culturally relevant investigations are required to understand this intricate area, with the hope that a better understanding will help the cause of both patients and their caregivers.

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Evaluating the influence of implicit models of mental disorder on processes of shared decision making within community-based multi-disciplinary teams

This paper reports findings from a qualitative study concerning the influence of implicit models of mental disorder on shared decision making within community-based mental health teams. One-hundred participants representing five distinct multi-agency groups: psychiatrists, community psychiatric nurses, approved social workers, patients and informal carers operating within Leicestershire, England were interviewed using a standard case vignette describing a person whose behaviour suggests he may have schizophrenia. The results showed that each of the study's multi-agency groups implicitly supports a complex range of model dimensions regarding the nature of schizophrenia, the appropriateness of specific forms of treatment and care, and their respective rights and obligations towards each other. The influence of these implicit model patterns on processes of shared decision making are discussed through evaluating their contribution to our understanding of the power relationships existing between various practitioner groups (including informal carers), and between practitioners and patients during clinical encounters.

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What does phenomenology offer to the study of care-giving?

Care giving to a dementia sufferer is complex (Parsons, 1997) and inherently stressful (Baldwin et al 1989). It is suggested that the predominance of the care-giver stressor-burden research paradigm during the last 30 years has frequently been uni-dimensional, objectively oriented, generally equivocal, and unconvincing in its findings. Dillehay and Sandys (1990), suggest that preoccupation with such typically narrow approaches has delayed the much-needed development of a more accurate understanding of the lived experience (the phenomenology of care-giving). Researching the experience of care giving to a dementing relative requires a research strategy, which acknowledges the intricacies, complexities, subjectivity and humanness of that experience. That is the premise behind this paper. A multi-dimensional phenomenological PhD study is presented. The focus is on understanding care giving from the individual and collective perspectives of 46 spouse caregivers. The methodological implications (including influences of Husserl and Heidegger) are outlined before the phenomenological research findings are presented and discussed. Ethical approval was given by the Bassetlaw Hospital and Community NHS Trust Ethics Committee (now part of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust).

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Using meta-ethnography to understand the emotional impact of caring for people with increasing cognitive impairment

The majority of people with degenerative neurological conditions are cared for within their own families. Cognitive impairment can be a significant and increasing symptom of these conditions. In this article we report how a team of experienced researchers carried out a meta-ethnography of qualitative research articles focusing on the impact of caring for a loved one with cognitive impairment. We followed the seven-step process outlined by Noblit and Hare. Synthesized findings from 31 papers suggest emotional impact is complex and uncertain and varies from day to day. The benefit of using meta-ethnography is that the results represent a larger sample size and a reinterpretation of multiple studies can hold greater application for practice. The results of this study offer an opportunity for nurses to be aware of both the positive and negative sides of caring and being cared for. This knowledge can be used to discuss with patients and carers how best to prepare for decreasing cognition and still maintain a worthwhile quality of life.

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Professionals' views on the roles and needs of family carers of adults with cerebral palsy and complex communication needs in hospital

Background The aim of this study was to explore the views of hospital and disability service staff on the roles and needs of family carers of adults with cerebral palsy (CP) and complex communication needs (CCN) in hospital.

Method We conducted a focus group with six hospital and disability service staff, analysed the content themes of the group discussion, and verified the analysis with participants.

Results Participants highlighted the family carers’ expertise and roles in emotional and communication support, advocacy, and providing information. They acknowledged that there is a gap between the ideal of hospital staff being able to provide all necessary care to the patient with CP, and the reality of hospital staff relying upon family carers for their expertise and provision of patient care.

Conclusions Hospital and disability staff do not expect family carers to replace the nurse in caring for the patient with CP and CCN in hospital. Nevertheless, family carers provide valuable support in hospital. This includes support with communication, advocacy, protection, information exchange, direct care, and emotional support. Family carers with a high level of expertise in providing care may need support in adapting to the culture of care on the ward and in transferring their roles and expertise in direct care to hospital staff. In addition, they need emotional and practical support through the stressful experience of having a family member hospitalised.

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Exploring the experiences of partners who live with a chronic low back pain sufferer

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a condition that causes individuals considerable distress. It also presents a significant challenge to the health service and is often viewed by clinicians as frustrating to manage. The purpose of the present paper is to explore the experiences of individuals in the immediate social sphere of those suffering from CLBP and their role in care-giving for their partner. An approach was taken using two qualitative research methods to gather data: journals and focus groups. Findings from the journals and the focus groups revealed issues for partners of CLBP sufferers in relation to living with their partners’ pain, perceptions of healthcare and the dominance of illness over social contacts. Key themes revealed the complex emotions experienced by respondents, and underlined the need for their role as care givers and partners to be acknowledged by healthcare professionals. The data also highlighted respondents’ desire to have greater involvement in their partners’ healthcare, which includes provision of relevant information and involvement with therapeutic interventions. The findings emphasise the need for healthcare professionals to include and acknowledge partners and others in the immediate social sphere of patients in the management of chronic conditions.

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Service use barriers differentiating care-givers' service use patterns

This study describes what types of service use barriers older adults' informal care-givers perceive and examines how these barriers differentiate care-giver service use patterns. Analysing the 2004 National Long-Term Care Survey and Informal Care-giver Data Set (N=1908) in the United States of America, this study reports the prevalence of service barriers for each type of service as well as for overall service use. Service barriers are measured in terms of availability, awareness, affordability, staff quality, privacy violation, complex bureaucracy, language barriers, qualification of each programme and no thought of service. Andersen's health behaviour model guides determinants related to care-giver service use patterns. As a main outcome, care-giver service use patterns (light service users, selective in-home users, and multiple service users) are examined in relation to service use barriers when other predisposing, enabling and need variables are controlled. Of the ten service use barriers defined in this study, awareness and no thought of service are the most prevalent barriers. Care-givers reporting service barriers of availability, awareness and affordability are more likely to be light service users compared to multiple service users and selective in-home service users. These findings highlight the significance of enhancing awareness of care-giver supportive services as well as increasing availability and financial support for service use.

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From provider to enabler of care? reconfiguring local authority support for older people and carers in Leeds, 2008 to 2013

This article explores developments in the support available to older people and carers (i.e., caregivers) in the city of Leeds, United Kingdom, and examines provision changes during a period characterized by unprecedented resource constraint and new developments in national-local governance. Using documentary evidence, official statistics, and findings from recent studies led by the author, the effects of these changes on service planning and delivery and the approach taken by local actors to mitigate their impact are highlighted. The statistical data show a marked decline in some types of services for older people during a 5-year period during which the city council took steps to mobilize citizens and develop new services and system improvements. The analysis focuses on theories of social quality as a framework for analysis of the complex picture of change related to service provision. It concludes that although citizen involvement and consultations exerted a positive influence in delivering support to some older people and carers, research over a longer timescale is needed to show if these changes are adequate to protect older people and carers from the effects of ongoing budgetary constraints.

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Is NHS Direct meeting the needs of mental health callers?

Background: NHS Direct is a new service that offers 24-hour advice from trained nurses. The National Service Framework for Mental Health and the National Strategy for Carers both mention NHS Direct as an important source of support for people with mental health problems. Aims: This paper reports findings from an evaluation of the Department of Health's NHS Direct mental health initiative. This initiative was established to ensure that NHS Direct can meet the needs of callers with mental health problems by offering additional training to all staff and improving the database of mental health services. Method: The findings reported here are based on routine computer data provided by 12 out of 17 NHS Direct sites, 552 data forms completed by nurse advisers from the 17 sites, and 111 questionnaires administered over the telephone with callers to the 17 sites. Results: Mental health calls accounted for 3% of NHS Direct's workload, although these calls were often longer and more complex than other calls. The majority of callers to the service were in touch with other services for their mental health problems (59%), typically their GP. Most callers had 'moderate' mental health problems, as indicated by the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale. Generally callers were satisfied with the service they received, although satisfaction was lower in some areas than previous studies of NHS Direct. Conclusions: Improvements could be made in the mechanisms for referring callers on to other services, and training to increase nurse advisers' knowledge of mental health problems.

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Examining the trajectories of children providing care for adults in rural Kenya: Implications for service delivery

Research on caregiving children tends to be limited to children's caregiving experiences of parents with a specific disease or disability. This has led to a common perception that children's caregiving is a single, uniform and often long-term experience. Whilst this is most certainly the case for many children in economically more advanced countries, this may not hold true in rural Africa, where poverty and AIDS can have significant knock-on effects on entire families and communities. This paper seeks to develop a more complex understanding of children's caring experiences by asking children whom they have cared for over time and explore the different pathways that lead to their caregiving at different stages of their lives. The study reports on qualitative data collected from 48 caregiving children and 10 adults in the Bondo district of western Kenya in 2007. A multi-method approach was adapted, with historical profiles, Photovoice and draw-and-write essays complementing 34 individual interviews and 2 group discussions. A thematic network analysis revealed that children's caregiving was not confined to a single experience. Children were observed to provide care for a number of different family and community members for varying periods of time and intensities. Although their living arrangements and life circumstances often gave them little choice but to care, a social recognition of children's capacity to provide care for fragile adults, helped the children construct an identity, which both children and adults drew on to rationalise children's continued and multiple caring experiences. The study concludes that agencies and community members looking to support caregiving children need to consider their care trajectories — including whom they care for as well as the order, intensity, location and duration of their past and likely future caring responsibilities.

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Dying at home: A qualitative study of family carers’ views of support provided by GPs community staff

Background: Dying at home is the preference of many patients with life-limiting illness. This is often not achieved and a key factor is the availability of willing and able family carers.

Aim: To elicit family carers’ views about the community support that made death at home possible.

Design and setting: Qualitative study in East Devon, North Lancashire, and Cumbria.

Method: Participants were bereaved family carers who had provided care at the end of life for patients dying at home. Semi-structured interviews were conducted 6–24 months after the death.

Results: Fifty-nine bereaved family carers were interviewed (54% response rate; 69% female). Two-thirds of the patients died from cancer with median time of home care being 5 months and for non-cancer patients the median time for home care was 30 months. An overarching theme was of continuity of care that divided into personal, organisational, and informational continuity. Large numbers and changes in care staff diluted personal continuity and failure of the GPs to visit was viewed negatively. Family carers had low expectations of informational continuity, finding information often did not transfer between secondary and primary care and other care agencies. Organisational continuity when present provided comfort and reassurance, and a sense of control.

Conclusion: The requirement for continuity in delivering complex end-of-life care has long been acknowledged. Family carers in this study suggested that minimising the number of carers involved in care, increasing or ensuring personal continuity, and maximising the informational and organisational aspects of care could lead to a more positive experience.

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Disparate routes through support: Negotiating the sites, stages and support of informal dementia care

Worldwide people with dementia are usually cared for at home by informal carers who may themselves have poor health and/or live in social situations which intensify their needs. The scale of these needs continues to be underappreciated and they are exacerbated by the limited social, cultural and emotional resources that carers can draw upon. This paper looks at the disparities in support, and the complex negotiations made by carers, as they reconcile the everyday realities of informal care in the home. Appreciation of these issues is essential in understanding carers' coping strategies in an ageing population.

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The impact of stroke on the well-being of the patient's spouse: an exploratory study

Aims.  The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of stroke on the patient's spouse, paying particular attention to psychiatric morbidity and the strain of caring, and correlating these with the degree of disability of the patient. The impact of impairment of speech was also investigated.

Background.  The impact of a stroke is not limited to the person who suffers it but also to the family, with the patient's spouse being particularly vulnerable. The literature suggests that the consequences for the spouse can be physical, psychological, economic and social.

Methods.  A quantitative approach was employed to investigate 44 couples who volunteered to participate in the study. A small battery of validated instruments was used to describe the patient's degree of disability, and psychiatric morbidity and the strain of caregiving in the spouse. Pearson's Correlation and Mann–Whitney U-test were used in data analysis.

Results.  The spouses were found to have a greater degree of psychiatric morbidity than a reference group and a large proportion of them found caregiving to be stressful. Psychiatric morbidity and strain in the spouses were not directly proportional to the extent of the patient's disability. Spouses whose partners’ speech was affected by the stroke were more likely to experience strain than those who were unaffected in this way.

Conclusions.  This study contributes to our knowledge of the relationship between patients’ physical disability and the level of strain and psychiatric morbidity in spouses. The relationship is a complex one, in which it is not possible to predict with confidence which spouses will be most vulnerable.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Caring for a patient following a stroke is very stressful, particularly in cases where the patient's speech is affected and there is also likely to be a significant effect on the psychological well-being of the spouse. This information is relevant to all nurses caring for patients with stroke and the patients’ spouses.

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Navigating health and care: living independently with long term conditions: an ethnographic investigation: interim findings

An evaluation exploring the lives of older people living with multiple long term conditions, assessing how well the health and care system is meeting their needs. The evaluation heard the views of 36 patients, family members and carers in order to gain an insight into their experiences of living with and managing their long term conditions and the care they receive. The key findings of the evaluation include: people greatly value the care and support they receive from the NHS and the wider health and care sector, and in the main feel the care they receive is good; however, they often feel the system is not set up to cope with their multiple and complex needs; people with more than one long term condition struggle to coordinate them all and they can feel there is no support linking all of their conditions and focusing on them personally and holistically; they can feel that they are a burden within their home as well as within the health and care system, which can prevent them seeking the help and support they need; and too often, there is an absence of discussion about care and care needs, within the home and within the health care system. (Edited publisher abstract)

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How do informal caregivers of patients with cancer cope: A descriptive study of the coping strategies employed

Purpose: A trend exists towards moving from the hospital and caring for the patients with cancer at home, which has directed the burden of caring to the family. As a result the numbers of informal caregivers, who assumed the care of their loved ones, has increased rapidly. The aim of the study is to explore the ways that families use to cope with the stressors and hardships of caregiving and expand the knowledge about coping.

Methods: This is a descriptive research design, with the use of a convenience sample of 130 dyads. Consenting patients identified their primary family caregiver who was asked to participate in the study.

Key results: The majority of the caregivers employed emotionally focused ways of coping with the caregiving burden such as: “I was hoping for a miracle” (mean 2.19), “I was hoping that time would change things and simply waited” (mean 2.14) and “I found consolidation in my faith to God” (mean 2.05). Assertive ways of coping such as “I expressed my anger to the patient” (mean 0.78) and “I dared to do something risky” (mean 0.98) were less likely to be used by the caregivers.

Conclusions: Findings are consistent with those of previous research that informal caregivers experience substantial psychological morbidity in the form of depression in addition to caregiver burden when they assume the role of the informal caregiver. Caregivers employ various strategies in order to cope with the strains associated with the complex physical and emotional demands involved in caring.

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Committed to caring: carer experiences after a relative goes into nursing or residential care

This article presents the key findings from a collaborative study about the experiences and support needs of carers whose relatives are admitted into a nursing or residential care home. Drawing upon data from carers' qualitative accounts, it considers carers' post‐admission roles, responsibilities and profiles, and the contribution carers make to the continued care of their relative. Carers' post‐admission caring experiences are described in detail and differences between spouse carers and carers involved in looking after a parent are identified. A temporal model depicting the complex and dynamic nature of carers' postadmission experiences is presented. The implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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Who cares? Moral obligations in formal and informal care provision in the light of ICT-based home care

An aging population is often taken to require a profound reorganization of the prevailing health care system. In particular, a more cost-effective care system is warranted and ICT-based home care is often considered a promising alternative. Modern health care devices admit a transfer of patients with rather complex care needs from institutions to the home care setting. With care recipients set up with health monitoring technologies at home, spouses and children are likely to become involved in the caring process and informal caregivers may have to assist kin-persons with advanced care needs by means of sophisticated technology. This paper investigates some of the ethical implications of a near-future shift from institutional care to technology-assisted home care and the subsequent impact on the care recipient and formal- and informal care providers. 

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Caring for mum and dad: lesbian women negotiating family and navigating care

This article reports on findings from a qualitative study that explored the experiences of twenty-one gay men and lesbian women who care, or cared, for a person with dementia in England. The aim of the study was to explore how a person's gay or lesbian sexuality might impact upon their experience of providing care in this context. Analysis of the data identified a number of consistent themes—carers' experiences of the early signs and symptoms of dementia, of receiving the diagnosis, becoming a carer and their hopes and fears for the future in light of their care-giving experiences. The article reports on one theme that emerged from the wider study—the strategies lesbian carers used to negotiate the complex and contested category of the ‘family’ in the context of their care-giving experiences. The findings highlight the variety of ways in which families, of both biology and choice, were central to respondents' experiences of providing care for parents with dementia and of receiving support for themselves.

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Broadening horizons

The author argues that more people with learning disabilities and their carers would opt for individual budgets if they were given better support to make them work. Two short case studies are presented where parents explain how individual budgets have proved successful for their sons, each of who have complex learning disabilities.

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Integrated transitional care: patient, informal caregiver and health care provider perspectives on care transitions for older persons with hip fracture

Introduction: Complex older adults, such as those with hip fracture, frequently require care from multiple professionals across a variety of settings. Integrated care both between providers and across settings is important to ensure care quality and patient safety. The purpose of this study was to determine the core factors related to poorly integrated care when hip fracture patients transition between care settings.

Methods: A qualitative, focused ethnographic approach was used to guide data collection and analysis. Patients, their informal caregivers and health care providers were interviewed and observed at each care transition  A total of 45 individual interviews were conducted. Interview transcripts and field notes were coded and analysed to uncover emerging themes in the data.

Results:  Four factors related to poorly integrated transitional care were identified: confusion with communication about care, unclear roles and responsibilities, diluted personal ownership over care, and role strain due to system constraints. 

Conclusions: Our research supports a broader notion of collaborative practice that extends beyond specific care settings and includes an appropriate, informed role for patients and informal caregivers. This research can help guide system-level and setting-specific interventions designed to promote high-quality, patient-centred care during care transitions.

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Information needs of families when one member has a severe brain injury

Despite calls for health and social services to respond to the needs of informal carers, there is little evidence to guide practioners in the best way to provide support and/or information in situations of complex need such as brain injury. This study addressed such an intervention in a prospective descriptive study, using both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Eighty-nine patients who had been admitted to a regional neurorehabilitation unit for management of traumatic or haemorrhagic brain injuries were consecutively discharged to the community over a period of 12 months. Eighty-two of these people identified a carer who agreed to be interviewed at approximately six weeks after discharge regarding their concerns. The study identified that even soon after discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, carers wanted more information. In many cases the need for information was unrelated to either the severity of injury or level of functional deficit. In addition, requests for information were in many cases not sought spontaneously, but required prompting. Such findings have implications if interventions in this field are to have the optimum chance of succeeding in providing support and assistance.

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Informal and formal caregivers' involvement in nursing home care activities: impact of integrated care

Aims.  This paper reports a study to investigate the relationships between informal and formal care, changing relationships over time, impact of integrated care, and theoretical and methodological lessons that can be drawn from research on this topic.

Background.  The ratio of informal to formal care provided in nursing homes varies. In many countries the predominance of traditional, formal care is being challenged by the emergence of integrated care models in which formal and informal caregivers co-operate and co-ordinate their activities to deliver tailor-made care. This move towards integrated care is likely to result in changes in the degree and nature of involvement of formal and informal caregivers in care activities. However, very little research has investigated this. Previous research is restricted to one point in time, as opposed to focussing on the changing relationships between formal and informal caregivers over time.

Methods.  The quasi-experimental design encompassed a traditional care comparison setting and an experimental setting with an integrated care intervention. At three measurement points, one before the intervention in May/June 2000 and two at 6 and 14 months after the intervention, informal and formal caregivers recorded their care activities. Informal care relationships were determined by calculating contribution rates and informal/formal care ratios for 14 activities.

Results.  Integrated care did not bring about the expected major changes. There was a limited amount of substitution of formal care with informal care. There were limited changes in the extent of dual specialization, in which informal and formal caregivers perform separate activities. There was little supplementation of formal care with informal care. Furthermore, relationships changed over time, resulting in a complex pattern of linkages at the level of separate activities.

Conclusions.  Informal caregivers contribute to many activities. The impact of integrated care on the degree and nature of involvement, however, was moderate. A possible explanation is the contextual situation for nursing home care. These findings point to the need for further research into the (changing) relationship between formal and informal carers in residential care activities and the evolution of this relationship over time.

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Knowledge and information needs of informal caregivers in palliative care: a qualitative systematic review

Objectives: To review current understanding of the knowledge and information needs of informal caregivers in palliative settings. Data sources: Seven electronic databases were searched for the period January 1994–November 2006: Medline, CINAHL, PsychINFO, Embase, Ovid, Zetoc and Pubmed using a meta-search engine (Metalib®). Key journals and reference lists of selected papers were hand searched. Review methods: Included studies were peer-reviewed journal articles presenting original research. Given a variety of approaches to palliative care research, a validated systematic review methodology for assessing disparate evidence was used in order to assign scores to different aspects of each study (introduction and aims, method and data, sampling, data analysis, ethics and bias, findings/results, transferability/generalizability, implications and usefulness). Analysis was assisted by abstraction of the key details of each study into a table. Results: Thirty-four studies were included from eight different countries. The evidence was strongest in relation to pain management, where inadequacies in caregiver knowledge and the importance of education were emphasized. The significance of effective communication and information sharing between patient, caregiver and service provider was also emphasized. The evidence for other caregiver knowledge and information needs, for example in relation to welfare and social support, was weaker. There was limited literature on non-cancer conditions and the care-giving information needs of black and minority ethnic populations. Overall, the evidence base was predominantly descriptive and dominated by small-scale studies, limiting generalizability. Conclusions: As palliative care shifts into patients’ homes, a more rigorously researched evidence base devoted to understanding caregivers knowledge and information needs is required. Research design needs to move beyond the current focus on dyads to incorporate the complex, three-way interactions between patients, service providers and caregivers in end-of-life care settings.

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Evidence in policy and practice: what kinds of research designs?

Summary: Over-generalization of the ‘effectiveness hierarchy’, and echoes of past paradigm wars about methodology, persist in generating conflicting judgements about the value of different research designs for evidence-based practice. A range of ways in which the worth of research is actually judged, and might be judged, are elaborated. The article then focuses on specific examples of the use of research, considering the kinds of evidence which could usefully support practice with carers, and the evidence which has been used to justify policy (the National Service Framework) for older people. The article concludes by using ideas about complex adaptive systems to illustrate similarities between uses of evidence in policy and individual practice.

Findings: Fundamentally, considerations which affect our judgements about the worth of research relate to the values expressed in the process of conducting the research, and the likely usefulness of the results. Inboth policy and practice, a whole range of research evidence can be, and is, used to support values, identify and understand problems, inform negotiations, and suggest solutions, without necessarily determining action to be taken in particular cases.

Applications: The article is a contribution to the ongoing debate about evidence-based practice in social care. It aims to clarify concepts and realities and thus promote an approach to this issue which remains rigorous but is inclusive with regard to both methods and stake aholders.

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Supported housing for people with Down's syndrome

There has been limited research on the attitudes of family carers and the part they play in helping people with a learning disability choose accommodation. A postal questionnaire was sent to family carers of people with Down's Syndrome, to identify their attitudes to supported living, their experience of the application process, and the support they provided to residents. It was found that main family carers of people with Down's Syndrome in supported living were generally satisfied with the housing and support provided, particularly with respect to activities of daily living. There was less satisfaction with the help received with managing finance and employment. There had been a mean of 2 years delay between application and securing accommodation. The large number of people providing care at home who wished their family-member to move into supported living suggests that there is a large unmet need for this type of accommodation. Almost all family carers continued to provide support after participants moved into supported living, particularly with more complex tasks such as financial management, and with responding to crises and ill-health. This indicates that people with a learning disability in supported living who do not have active contact with their family may be vulnerable financially and less likely than others to receive help at times of crisis. The proportion of residents in supported living who experience such problems will increase as family carers die or otherwise become too infirm to continue to provide support.

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The experience of being a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke, 1 year after discharge from a rehabilitation clinic: A qualitative study

Background: Living in close emotional and physical proximity to a person who has suffered a stroke may alter almost every aspect of daily living and will inevitably impact family life. Age seems to be a factor in the experiences of stroke sufferers’ close relatives after the stroke.

Objectives: This study aimed to illuminate the experience of being a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke; 1 year after the stroke sufferer's discharge from a rehabilitation clinic.

Participants: Nine middle-aged close relatives of persons with a confirmed diagnosis of a first-time stroke were consecutively included in the study and interviewed.

Methods: The narrative interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a thematic content analysis. The study was part of a longitudinal study.

Results: Four themes emerged from the data, intertwined and in conflict with one another. A turning point was reached, and the inevitability of an altered future became self-evident, so much so that the middle-aged close relatives felt forced to accept and become reconciled to a changed way of living, even if feelings of grief from loss were still present. The middle-aged close relatives’ process of coming to awareness and recognition of their own needs was part of a complex interplay of emotions, in which they learned to leave feelings of shame and guilt behind. They experienced movement from self-denial to self-recognition in their search for their own well-being and the recovery of their strength for a functioning family life. Even if they experienced a greater sense of freedom, they still face living life within limits. A significant challenge appears to be the effects of the personality changes among the person with a stroke, and the resulting sense of being an outsider. Relatives struggled with health care providers for visibility and confirmation. Their experiences were ones of standing alone, outside a closing door to the rehabilitation. Their ability to work, the benefits of functioning home care, and support from their family helped them through these challenges.

Conclusion: This study highlights the middle-aged relatives’ realization that they will live an inevitability altered future. Individually, the stroke sufferer's relatives need support in their relationships within the family for emotional confirmation and to help them recognize and verbalize their needs without feeling guilt; gaining these supportive factors may help the relatives to recover their sense of well-being and give strength for a future, properly functioning family life.

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The experience of being a middle‐aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke – six months after discharge from a rehabilitation clinic

Being a close relative brings with it a large number of consequences, with the life situation changing over time. The aim of this study was to illuminate the experiences of being a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke 6 months after being discharged from a medical rehabilitation clinic. Narrative interviews were conducted with nine middle-aged close relatives and analysed using a content analysis with a latent approach. The analysis revealed that being close to someone who had suffered a stroke 6 months after discharge meant; a struggling for control and a renewal of family life in the shadow of suffering and hope. The middle-aged close relatives began to perceive the changed reality. They were struggling to take on something new, become reconciled and find a balance in their family life. Their ability to work, relief from caring concerns and having support and togetherness with others seemed to be essential for the close relatives in their efforts to manage their life situation and maintain their well-being. Having reached the ‘halfway point’ in their lives and still with half of their life in front of them created worries. They felt dejected about their changed relationships and roles, experience a sense of loss of shared child responsibilities, a negative impact on their marital relationships and sexual satisfaction. They felt trapped in a caring role and they worried about how to endure in the future. The middle-aged close relatives’ experiences were of being alone and neglected, in an arduous and complex life situation filled with loss and grief. The findings highlights that health professionals need to see and listen to the close relatives’ experiences of transition in order to provide appropriate support adjusted to their varying needs during a time of renewal.

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Carer burden in apathy and impulse control disorders in Parkinson's disease

Background: The neuropsychiatric complications of Parkinson's disease (PD), which include behaviour disturbances such as apathy and the impulse control disorders (ICDs), may have a significant effect on patients with PD and their carers. The contribution of these behaviour disorders to carer burden is less understood. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the relationship that apathy and ICDs have with carer burden.

Methods: Non-demented (n = 71) PD–carer dyads (spouse or adult child) participated in the study. The PD participants were divided into three behavioural groups: ICD (n = 21), apathy (n = 22) and controls (n = 28). The three groups were compared for level of burden in their carers by using the Zarit Burden Interview. The PD participants were rated for levels of apathy, impulsivity and motor and psychiatric symptoms. Using a multivariate analysis, we sought the PD-related predictors of carer burden.

Results: Significantly, greater burden was seen in carers of PD participants with ICDs (p = 0.002) or apathy (p = 0.004), compared with carers of PD participants without such behavioural disturbances. Linear regression models revealed that attentional ability accounted for burden in carers of the group with apathy, whereas dopaminergic load and depression accounted for burden in carers of the group with impulsivity.

Conclusion: PD-related behaviour disturbances, such as apathy and ICDs, as well as psychiatric complications, have significant negative implications for burden of care.

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Health care professionals' support for older carers

This paper examines four specific themes relating to older carers' experience: care-giving in the context of particular roles and relationships embedded in biographical histories; care in the context of dementia; care involving skilled or complex health care-tasks; and care of an intimate/personal nature. In each case, we look at the nature of support provided by health care professionals. Analysis of the data suggests several conclusions. Older carers are carrying out a range of tasks including complex health care tasks, many of which were once part of a nurse's remit and role. Nurses approach older carers as a unique but not homogeneous group and acknowledge many of their distinct needs as well as their right to choice concerning the extent of their involvement in care-giving. However, this approach conceals several implicit assumptions and expectations about the role of older carers. In particular, professionals' emphasis on older people's individual choice jars with the latter's own experience of reciprocity existing within the context of lifetime relationships. The paper suggests that modifications have to be made in professionals' approach if older people are to be presented with choice and support in the care-giving they perform.

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Germany's First Young Carers Project's Impact on the Children: Relieving the Entire Family. A Qualitative Evaluation

Background: In 2009, the first German young carers project “SupaKids” was implemented in a large German city. The project’s concept was mainly based on findings of a prior Grounded Theory study, and the concept’s aim was to focus on supporting enrolled families (especially the children) in order to prevent negative effects. Quantitative as well as qualitative data have been assessed for the project’s evaluation. In this paper, first results on the mainly qualitative evaluation concerning the project’s impact are presented.

Results: The project has an impact on the entire family. Both parents and children perceive the project as a kind of shelter, where they a) are allowed to be as they are, b) don’t have to explain themselves, c) meet others in similar situations, d) may deposit their sorrows, e) have a first port of call for any problem, f) experience a hiatus from the domestic situation, and g) find friends and peers. All enrolled families value this shelter as a copious relief.

Conclusions: The project’s concept has delivered an optimal performance in practice: the family-orientation seems to be appropriate, the concept’s modules seem to be all-embracing, and the modular body of the concept has been confirmed. The project relieves the entire family. Trial Registration Number: NCT00734942

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'He will finish up caring for me' : people with learning disabilities and mutual care

Until recently, the carer's perspective has dominated research on families who include someone with a learning disability and recent legislation has underlined the carer's rights. Previous research has found that some more able people with learning disabilities were very aware of their parents' growing needs, and were taking on responsibilities within the family to help and support their carer/parents. However, recent legislation still dichotomizes family members into carers and cared-for people. The present paper is based on a research study of the impact of the UK Carers Act 1995 on families with someone with a learning disability. It involved canvassing the views of people with learning disabilities about their experience of assessments and their relationships within the family. The present authors found that many people with learning disabilities expressed empathy for their carer's point of view and that several people (including some who had high support needs themselves) were performing care tasks for their elderly parents. However, no one appeared to recognize the situation as one of mutual care, and parents generally carried on defining themselves as carers since they took responsibility and exercised control. The present authors conclude that mutual caring is far more common than is recognized and includes people with severe learning disabilities. A more holistic approach to assessment of needs is required that can take into account the complex web of interdependence within a family. Rather than categorizing people into ‘carers’ and ‘cared-for’, the present authors suggest a model that recognizes mutually supportive partnerships within the family.

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Matter of discourse

Caregiving within families is often complex and can be fraught with relationship difficulties. Paying attention to the way people speak about care, relationships and difficulties can shed light on how practitioners can fruitfully work with caregivers and care-receivers. Looks at how a sound understanding of language through discourse analysis can help social workers in their practice.

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‘Not that I want to be thought of as a hero’: Narrative analysis of performative masculinities and the experience of informal cancer caring

Providing care to a partner with cancer can have a significant impact on a carer’s well-being and experience of subjectivity. However, there is little research examining how men experience the role of cancer carer, and in particular, how they negotiate constructions of gender in this role. This paper draws on a single case study of a heterosexual man caring for his partner, and conducts a narrative analysis of the construction and performance of masculine subjectivity. It was found that rather than inhabiting a stable masculinity, this carer engaged in a complex negotiation of masculinities, enacting a caring role associated with victimisation, rejection, distress and powerlessness, as well as strength and heroic resilience. We highlight the importance of the relationship context to the experience of caring, and suggest that research into the gendered experience of cancer care needs to acknowledge the active negotiation of masculinities and caring. We also discuss the utility of case study research in analyses of masculinity and cancer care, and in health psychology more broadly.

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Treatment decision-making in cancer care: the role of the carer

Aims and objectives.  This study explores the role of the carer in treatment decision-making in cancer care.

Background.  Literature about involvement in treatment decision-making tends to focus on patients and clinicians, with the carer rarely included. The absence of carers is problematic because the management of illness is often carried out in the context of complex networks of relationships. Although current policy encourages health care practitioners to work in partnership with family members, implementation is troubled by a lack of understanding of the significance of interpersonal relationships and interactions and the role of the relationship throughout the course of the illness experience. Despite awareness, there is little systematic, coherent analysis of the complexity of these interactional dynamics and, in particular, consideration of the implications for involvement and treatment decision-making.

Design.  Qualitative, longitudinal.

Methods.  Three serial semi-structured interviews with 66 patients and 43 carers within the first year following a diagnosis of cancer. A descriptive and thematic approach to data analysis was adopted.

Results.  Carers are involved in treatment decision-making in cancer care and contribute to the involvement of patients through their actions during, before and after consultations with clinicians. Carers can act as conduits for information from patient to clinician and from clinician to patient. They can also act as facilitators during deliberations, helping patients to consider whether to have treatment or not and which treatment.

Conclusions.  Our study has highlighted the deficiency of models that fail to acknowledge the role of the carer in the treatment decision-making process. We propose the adoption of a relational approach by the inclusion of the carer in conceptual frameworks and recommend triadic (patient, carer and professional) models of involvement.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Cancer care clinicians should recognise and actively involve the carer as well as the patient in treatment decision-making.

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