Meaning Through Caregiving: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Informal Carers

Chak K CHAN*, Tom VICKERS, Adam BARNARD

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

Abstract

This article reports the findings of a qualitative investigation of the way people find meaning through caregiving. It draws on the results of in-depth interviews with 37 informal carers and 11 stakeholders in Nottinghamshire, the United Kingdom. For most respondents caregiving involved looking after family members—for example, husband or wife, father or mother, young or adult children and mother-in-law. The meaning that respondents found through caregiving motivated them to cope with the difficulties associated with looking after a person in need. This research found that most informal carers operate with long-standing, gender-based understandings of their role, creating a potential risk that using gender-neutral terminology when referring to family members may obscure the subjective values that carers attach to informal caregiving and lead to role confusion. Moreover, although informal carers typically feel obliged to take care of family members in need and may value this role, they often require additional support from the state to reduce the pressures associated with caregiving and to enable them to continue to lead a meaningful life both within and beyond their caring role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-700
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume50
Issue number3
Early online date21 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

The findings of this article were generated from a research project called Research on Carers within Seldom Heard Communities. The project was commissioned to the authors by Nottinghamshire County Council, UK.

Keywords

  • caregiving and culture
  • marital commitment
  • meaning through caregiving
  • parental duties
  • state support

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