Journal Article

Life after Caring: The Post-Caring Experiences of Former Carers

Mary Larkin

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 6, pages 1026-1042
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn030
Life after Caring: The Post-Caring Experiences of Former Carers

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Summary

This qualitative study was informed by grounded theory and data were gathered primarily through semi-structured in-depth interviews with thirty-seven theoretically sampled former carers. They were all white British, lived in the East Midlands and were predominately over sixty (68 per cent) and female (70 per cent). With the exception of one, all had cared for a close relative, 65 per cent having cared for a partner/spouse. Most of their dependants were older adults and each case the cessation of caring had coincided with the death of the dependant. The findings showed that post-caring life for the interviewees had an identifiable trajectory with three phases—the ‘post-caring void’, ‘closing down “the caring time”‘and ‘constructing life post-caring’. Each of these phases involved a distinct set of experiences. In addition, the study established that 70 per cent of those in the sample had cared more than once. Thus, two new concepts—'the post-caring trajectory' and the ‘serial carer’—were developed to reflect these findings. Suggestions are made about ways in which policy, practice and further research can be developed in order to ensure there is effective provision for those who have ceased caring.

Keywords: Caring; former carers; post-caring experiences; post-caring trajectory; serial caring

Journal Article.  6947 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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