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The assessment experience of spousal dementia care-givers: ‘It's made me realise that I am a person also’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2018

Nancy Guberman
Affiliation:
School of Social Work, University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada
Janice Keefe
Affiliation:
Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Pamela Fancey
Affiliation:
Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This article is based on a study that used a validated care-giver assessment instrument known as ‘The C.A.R.E. (Caregivers’ Aspirations, Realities, and Expectations) Tool’ to understand its usefulness in working with older adults caring for a spouse with cognitive impairment. It draws on data collected as part of a larger, quasi-experimental pre- and post-test study examining the impact of a care-giver assessment on older spousal care-givers of a partner with cognitive impairment. One hundred community-living individuals (average age of 74) participated in the study. Participants met with a third-year nursing student who administered The C.A.R.E. Tool. Within three to seven days following this, a research team member conducted a semi-structured interview by telephone. This interview provided participants with the opportunity to comment on their experience and the usefulness of The C.A.R.E. Tool. Transcriptions of the interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis. Results indicate that the assessment experience was evaluated positively by most participants. Two broad themes emerged: assessment encourages care-givers to take stock of their situation, and it provides a relationship with a caring professional. In particular, the assessment experience gave these care-givers to have the opportunity to reflect, while expressing emotions and developing awareness, and provided them with an appreciated relationship with a caring professional who helped to validate and normalise their situation. For care-givers, the results suggest that assessment may serve as a catalyst for taking action in their care-giving situation or turning to services for help. For practitioners, assessment may increase awareness of the experience of spousal care-givers, potentially leading to interventions to support them. This study found that the attitudes and knowledge of practitioners play a role in care-givers’ experience of the assessment as positive. However, the goal of assessment must be clarified, as outcomes of other tools will differ depending on the aims.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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