UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

What needs of family caregivers can be met through the use of respite care? Courtney, Ellen Joyce


The respite care service has been offered to family caregivers who care for elderly relatives in the community. It has been assumed that respite care will meet the needs of family caregivers who use this service but there has been a dearth of evidence which clearly supports this assumption. This study used a grounded theory approach to answer the following Question: Does respite care meet the needs of family caregivers who use this service? Seven family caregivers, who lived with their elderly female relatives and had used respite care at least once in the past, were interviewed. A needs framework, which was derived from the nine needs of the U.B.C. Model for Nursing (1980), provided structure for the interviews 8nd for data analysis. Data were collected and analyzed simultaneously using the process of continuous comparative analysis. The findings indicated that three major factors led family caregivers to use respite care: mental strain, physical strain, and the influences of support systems. These factors contributed to the six unmet needs experienced by the caregivers prior to respite care use. The respite care experience was described by caregivers in terms of their satisfaction with the service, their use of respite care for rest period and vacation relief purposes, and their lack of responsibility for the care-receiver during the respite care period. All of the caregiver needs were found to be met during respite care use. Four major consequences of respite care use were identified: caregiver plans for multiple respite cere use, altered caregiver/care-receiver relationships, increased use of services and caregiver plans for the future. After respite care use, only three caregiver needs were met. In answer to the study question, respite care did meet the needs of family caregivers during the time of use but did not prolong the meeting of needs once caregiving was resumed. The deteriorating mental and physical health of the care-receiver appeared as a major theme throughout the caregivers' discussions. Caregivers were 8ware of the constant adjustments that had to be made in the care offered to the care-receivers in order to accommodate the deteriorations in the care-receivers' health. Caregivers found that continual support and assistance with these adjustments were necessary but these were not obtained from health care professionals or community services. Nurses should assist caregivers with these care adjustments by providing on-going support and by promoting flexible respite care and other community service options. Nursing education should prepare the practitioner to understand the caregiving experience from the caregivers' perspective and to understand the effects of caregiving and community service options including the respite care service on the needs of family caregivers. Future research should focus on providing further insight into the relationship between the respite care service and caregiver needs that can be used as a basis for planning effective nursing care that will support family caregivers.

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