Managing uncertainty in life after stroke: A qualitative study of the experiences of established and new informal carers in the first 3 months after discharge
ABSTRACT Caring for stroke survivors at home can have an enormous impact on informal carers and past research has tended to focus on the negative emotional consequences of caring, with few identifying any positive outcomes. Despite an awareness that the experiences of these carers change over time, there is a dearth of qualitative studies investigating carers' experiences over time.
To investigate the experiences of informal carers of stroke survivors over time.
Carers of stroke survivors from one acute and two rehabilitation units in South-West London.
A purposive sample of 31 informal carers of stroke survivors discharged from inpatient treatment and rehabilitation returning home were interviewed. The majority of participants' were spouses but they also included adult sons and daughters. Most participants were post-retirement age.
Audio-taped in-depth interviews of 30-90 min duration were undertaken at three time points-close to discharge, 1 month and 3 months post-discharge. Interviews were transcribed immediately after each interview. Analysis was an ongoing process starting during data collection and ending with themes. As themes emerged they were identified and discussed with other members of the team so that any patterns across the interviews were noted. Themes were followed up at subsequent interviews. This process enabled progressive focusing of ideas and also validated respondents' accounts.
There were a total of 81 interviews and these carers were similar demographically to other carers in stroke research. A central theme of uncertainty with a number of other interconnected themes were identified. Other themes including adopting routines and strategies, absolute and relative positives and questioning the future could be seen to both influence and be influenced by uncertainty. These themes can all be related to the changes in carers' lives or the management of uncertainty around stroke. Differences in experiences and coping strategies were identified between new carers and those with prior caring experience.
Carers experience considerable uncertainty when caring for stroke survivors. Living with uncertainty is central to these carers' experiences and this should be acknowledged by clinicians when supporting stroke survivors and carers. Encouraging the identification of the positive aspects of caring may help carers manage the challenges and uncertainties created by stroke.
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- "Positive social recognition was most likely to come from caregivers' friends. These findings extend research on the negative impact of caregiving on mental health (Badr et al., 2007; Braun et al., 2009), subjective well-being (McPherson et al., 2000) and quality of life (Greenwood et al., 2009), by revealing caregivers' negative experiences of social recognition. "
ABSTRACT: Disagreements and misunderstandings between informal caregivers and care-receivers have been widely reported, but the causes are unclear. The present article compares the views of people with acquired brain injury and their main informal caregivers (28 dyads, n = 56). First, we report a quantitative analysis finding that the majority of disagreements were about caregivers' identity. Caregivers saw themselves as less confident, less intelligent, more embarrassed, more independent and more overprotective than care-receivers rated them to be. Caregivers understood the care-receivers' ratings but disagreed with them' Second, we report a qualitative analysis focussing on how caregivers felt themselves to be perceived by significant others. Caregivers felt that the care-receiver, family members, the general public, health services and even friends often have negative views of them. The 'caregiving bind' is proposed as a cause of caregivers' negative identity. It arises when caregivers try to protect the care-receiver's identity by concealing the extent of informal care provision, with the unintended consequence of undermining the prospects of the caregiver receiving positive social recognition for the challenging work of caregiving. The caregiving bind has implications for therapy and points to the potential of friends and health services to provide caregivers with positive social recognition.Social Science & Medicine 06/2014; 116C:102-109. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.038 · 2.56 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Stroke has far reaching effects on both stroke survivors and their informal carers. Research has highlighted changes in autonomy of stroke survivors, but insufficient focus has been put on the associated reduced control and independence of their informal carers. This study investigates the experiences of informal carers of stroke survivors from discharge to 3 months later. A purposive sample of 31 informal carers was interviewed in depth just prior to discharge, 1 month and 3 months post-discharge. Interviews lasted 30-90 min and were audio-taped and transcribed. Data analysis was ongoing starting during data collection and ending with themes that described and helped understand carers' experiences. Carers described reductions in their autonomy and independence but also over time identified strategies to manage these changes and to increase control in their lives. These strategies included selection, optimisation, compensation, asking for and accepting help and negotiation. Some carers, especially older carers and those with prior caring experience, were less likely to describe changes in autonomy and control. Carers' reduced autonomy and independence should be recognised by practitioners and service providers. Helping carers to negotiate choice and control over the support offered could help increase their autonomy and independence. To offer improved support to these carers, greater attention should to given to the diversity of their situations and experiences.Disability and Rehabilitation 09/2009; 32(2):125-33. DOI:10.3109/09638280903050069 · 1.84 Impact Factor