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‘Making the move’: relatives’ experiences of the transition to a care home

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Despite a growing awareness of the significance of helping a relative to relocate to a care home as a key phase in the caregiving career, relatively few studies in the UK have explored this experience in depth. The research on which the present paper is based sought to better understand experiences of nursing home placement from the viewpoint of relatives. The study was informed by a constructivist perspective. Data were collected in 37 semi-structured interviews involving 48 people who had assisted a close relative to move into a nursing home. Data analysis revealed three phases of the transition from the relatives’ perspective: ‘making the best of it’; ‘making the move’; and ‘making it better’. The relatives’ experiences across these phases were understood in terms of five continua, reflecting the extent to which they felt they were: operating ‘under pressure’ or not; ‘working together’ or ‘working alone’; ‘supported’ or ‘unsupported’, both practically and emotionally; ‘in the know’ or ‘working in the dark’; and ‘in control of events’ or not. This paper reports on the findings which relate to the second phase of the transition, ‘making the move’, which relates to experiences around the time of relocation to the care home environment. The findings suggest that health and social care practitioners have enormous potential to influence relatives’ experiences of nursing home entry. Experiences are enhanced if family carers perceive that they are able to work in partnership with care staff in order to ease the transition for the older person.
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Keywords: admission; family carers; nursing homes; transitions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Community, Ageing, Rehabilitation, Education and Research, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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