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Family caregiving : telling stories about the journey between becoming a carer and placing an elderly relative into a care home

The demographics of a rapidly ageing population and the shift towards community care have placed greater reliance on families to meet the care needs of elderly relatives at home. Supporting carers is vital for carers, those they care for and is cost effective because of the potential burden on public services. Using narrative analysis, ten caregivers were invited to tell their stories about placing an elderly relative into residential care. What would they choose to say about how, when and why they had reached the decision not to carry on caring? Their narratives are represented poetically, using their words and phrases from the interview transcripts. The poems capture the wholeness of their stories in condensed form and magnify how they had reached their individual 'breaking points'. My intention was to share their evocative accounts in an alternative, powerful and emotionally engaging way. I problematise my own identity as a caregiver, discussing how the methodology embraces my subjectivity; inter-subjectivity, the co-construction of data; the performative nature of narrative interviewing, representational and interpretational practices. There was a temporal structure to their stories; a series of transitions in their caregiving and the rhythm of the poetry mirrored the rhythmical counting down of their survival time as carers. A relationship was found between the passage of time; changes in the identities of the caregivers/cared for; the availability and quality of formal support and the decision to place their relatives into care. By attending in more empathic ways to the detail of their stories, the research contributes to an embodied understanding of the caregiver experience. As well as supporting comprehensive research undertaken by Carers UK, the findings also enabled a detailed examination of the extent to which the latest national strategy for carers (DOH 2008) addresses the gaps in support identified by the caregivers.
Date January 2009
CreatorsGregory, Sheila Ann
PublisherUniversity of East Anglia
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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