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Family caregivers have been given increasing importance in palliative home care and face a great responsibility as caregivers for patients suffering from incurable illness. Preparedness for caregiving has been found to moderate negative effects and promote well-being in family caregivers. The aim of our study was to explore family caregivers' own experiences of preparing for caregiving in specialized palliative home care.
An interpretive descriptive design was chosen. A strategic sampling method was applied with a focus on participants who rated their preparedness as high and low using a structured instrument. Qualitative interviews were completed with 12 family caregivers. They were analyzed using a constant-comparative technique.
Family caregivers described their experience of preparing for caregiving as an ongoing process, rather than something done in advance. The process was illustrated through three subprocesses: “awaring” (realizing the seriousness of the situation), “adjusting” (managing a challenging situation), and “anticipating” (planning for the inevitable loss).
Significance of results:
Knowledge about the process of preparedness for caregiving and its subprocesses could be valuable to healthcare professionals, given the positive effects shown by preparedness in this context. Being able to recognize the different subprocesses of preparedness for caregiving could provide healthcare professionals with opportunities to support family caregivers in managing them. Preparedness for caregiving should be seen as a process to be supported and promoted continuously in palliative home care, not just at enrollment.
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