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J Adv Nurs. 2000 Nov;32(5):1187-95.

Nursing home placement: an exploration of the experiences of family carers.

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University of Ulster, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland.


This study examines some of the factors leading family carers to place their older relatives in a nursing home. It also explores their thoughts and feelings about their relatives' admission to a nursing home. Analysis of in-depth interviews with relatives (n=10) found that the decision to place an older relative in a nursing home was a difficult one for families. The interviewed carers stated that admission to a nursing home was held off as long as possible but the deteriorating health of the older relative and in some cases their own health meant that there was no other option. Admission to institutional care usually followed a period of prolonged home care and occurred at a time of crisis. Family carers complained that they were given inadequate support from health care professionals and often had no choice in the decision-making process. This was particularly evident in the case of carers whose relative was transferred directly from hospital to a nursing home setting. The majority of carers in this study experienced ambiguous feelings about placing their elderly relative in a nursing home. Feelings of relief that the burden of care had been lifted, contrasted sharply with feelings of guilt that they could not continue with their 'duty of care'. Families also felt a need to justify their decision by emphasizing how friends and other family members agreed that they could not continue with home care in the interests of both their own and the older relative's health. The findings suggest that while many carers are relieved of the physical exhaustion surrounding home care, the emotional turmoil continues long after admission to a nursing home.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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