• Sweden;
  • family carers;
  • care homes;
  • placement;
  • planning;
  • nursing;
  • community medicine;
  • role development

‘I don’t have any other choice’: spouses’ experiences of placing a partner in a care home for older people in Sweden

The main aim of this paper is to consider the experiences of Swedish spouses who have placed a partner in a care home for older people. Data were gathered from semi-structural interviews with 14 spouses (11 wives and 3 husbands) who had been involved in a care home placement within the previous 6 months. The results reported here are from the first component of a larger grounded theory study, the aim of which is to explore, describe and understand the experience of care home placement from a variety of perspectives and to identify the implications for policy and practice in Sweden. The focus here is on the experience of spouses, relating to the decision-making process, the move into care and subsequent contact with the care home. Four themes emerged from the data – making the decision, making the move, adjusting to the move and reorientation. The results show a lack of planning for the elder person’s entry to a care home, and professional dominance of this stage of the process. The largely ambivalent emotional responses to the move that spouses experience and the difficulties in initiating and sustaining relationships with staff in the home are discussed in the light of previous research.