student profile: Mr Michael Devery


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Thesis work

Thesis title: The experience of caregiving following residential aged care placement: an exploratory study

Supervisors: Rosalie POCKETT , Fran WAUGH

Thesis abstract:

This is a study of the experiences of caregivers following the placement of a frail elderly relative in residential care (‘nursing home’). The research question guiding the study is: “What is the experience of caregiving after residential aged care placement?” The study has merit in the context of world-wide ageing: societies are making a transition from societies of younger people to societies of older people; hence it is likely that a significant proportion of frail old people will require care in a residential aged care facility; but not much is known about the experiences of carers following placement. The study employs Interpretive Phenomenological methodology. Twenty semi-structured interviews were completed with caregivers, recruited at one residential aged care facility in Northern Sydney; the Participants were mostly spouses and adult daughters of Facility residents. Interviews were completed between 17 April 2014 and 2 July 2014. Participants reported that they found making the decision to place their relatives, and the search for a facility, stressful; however, once the facility had been chosen and their relatives ‘settled in’, Participants felt relieved. Participants aspired to make the facility a second home, and to recreate the intimacy of family life in the facility. They reconstructed familiar family rituals, and created new rituals, to maintain their intimate connection with their relatives; they made attributions of kinship to facility staff which enabled them to relate to facility staff as members of their extended family, and partners in the provision of care. These aspirations and activities are modelled as ‘caregiver intimacy’. Participants did not feel that caregiving was complete until they had reconstructed their intimate connection with their relatives and they sensed that the facility had become a second home. Participants felt fulfilled by their reconstruction of intimacy with their relatives following placement; this experience is modelled as ‘caregiver satisfaction’. The findings provide a counterpoint to research of in-home caregiving which finds that caregiving is experienced as a burden.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.