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Spousal Caregiving in the Institutional Setting: Task Performance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2010

Margaret M. Ross
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa
Carolyn J. Rosenthal
Affiliation:
McMaster University
Pamela G. Dawson
Affiliation:
University of Toronto

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the phenomenon of spousal caregiving following the institutionalization of elderly husbands. Theoretically, the study was informed by the interpretive perspective in sociology and the concept of career. Methodologically, the study employed a longitudinal and prospective design and combined quantitative and qualitative approaches. The data were drawn from a larger study designed to explore the transition to quasi-widowhood. This article reports on one aspect of spousal caregiving following the admission of husbands to a long term care setting, i.e. the performance of tasks. In this study, wives carried out a substantial number and wide variety of tasks related to personal, instrumental, relational and recreational care. They viewed visiting as their most important task but also highly valued providing companionship, love and support, doing little things for their husbands and monitoring their health and well-being. Typically, wives carried out tasks they viewed as falling within their domain of responsibility. Task performance occurred within a context of meaning that served to explain, in part, their continued involvement in caregiving following the admission of husbands to a long term care setting. Implications of this study point to the need for collaboration in caregiving between wives and staff, to support and enhance the quality of care provided by elderly wives who are coping with the institutionalization of their husbands.

Résumé

Cette étude examine le phénomène des soins donnés par l'épouse à la suite du placement en établissement de son conjoint âgé. En théorie, l'étude puise dans la perspective d'interprétation sociologique et dans le concept de carriére. Son aspect méthodologique repose sur un cadre longitudinal et prospectif et réunit les approches quantitatives et qualitatives. Les données sont tirées d'une etude plus vaste qui explorait la transition vers un état de quasi-veuvage. L'article traite d'un aspect des soins suivant l'admission de l'époux en centre de soins à long terme, soit de l'accomplissement des tâches. Aux termes de l'etude, les épouses effectuent un nombre substantiel et varié de tâches reliées aux soins personnels, instrumentaux, relationnels et récréatifs. Elles considêrent les visites comme la plus importante de leur tâche mais accordent également une valeur importante à la présence, á l'amour et à l'appui, aux petites choses qu'elles font pour leur mari et à la surveillance de leur santé et de leur bien-être. Généralement, elles exécutent des tâches qu'elles jugent du ressort de leurs responsabilités. La réalisation des tâches se place dans un contexte servant à expliquer, en partie, leur engagement continu dans la fourniture des soins apràs l'admission de leur époux en établissement de soins de longue durée. La portée de cette étude souligne le besoin de collaboration entre les épouses soignantes et le personnel dans une perspective de maintien et d'augmentation de la qualityé des soins accorded par les épouses aînées dont le conjoint est placé en établissement.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 1997

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