Is it worth it? Carers’ views and expectations of residential respite for people living with dementia during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

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Abstract

Objectives
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on many people living with dementia and carers. Caring for a person living with dementia at home with limited avenues for support and a break challenged many carers. Care homes in England closed to visitors, with very few offering opportunities for a short-stay. We investigated impact of Covid-19 on views and expectations of carers of people living with dementia about residential respite.
Methods/Design
Qualitative interviews with 35 carers were conducted March–December 2020: 30 women and 5 men, with ages ranging 30 to 83 years. Interviews explored experiences, views of residential respite, and expectations post-Covid. Data were thematically analysed and salient concepts were drawn out and discussed within the research team and study advisers.
Results
Three themes were identified in transcripts, relating to impact of Covid-19 on views and expectations of respite: (1) Carers described regularly negotiating risks and stresses of Covid, weighing up how to prevent infection and changing family arrangements to facilitate caring; (2) Carers were balancing different needs, prioritising needs of their relatives while bearing the impact of cumulative caregiving responsibilities. (3) Uncertainty about future residential respite continued, in terms of availability, ongoing restrictions and trustworthy information sources.
Conclusions
Residential respite is a positive, acceptable option for some carers to get a break from caring. Covid-19 may have heighted some of caregiving stressors and there may be an increased need for a break. Views of care homes developed during the pandemic suggest that individual confidence to use respite may need to be rebuilt.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2022

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