Aims and objectives. To provide insight into family caregiver perspectives on social relations within the ‘caregiving triangle’ between family caregiver, professional caregiver and elderly resident with dementia. Results were compared between traditional versus small-scale long-term care settings in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Background. Residential dementia care is shifting towards a more holistic and person-centred approach. Until now, little is known about family caregiver perspectives.
Design. A quasi-experimental longitudinal design.
Methods. This study was part of a larger research project focusing on the quality of life of residents with dementia in traditional and small-scale settings (n = 179). This study focused on family caregivers related to these residents (n = 64). They filled in a questionnaire containing 25 items (baseline and after 12 months) related to their perspectives on the interaction within the ‘caregiving triangle’. Analyses were performed using mixed models and logistic regression.
Results. Compared to traditional settings, family caregivers of relatives with dementia living in small-scale settings had more contact with the professional caregivers, were more satisfied with this contact and felt that staff paid more attention to their feelings as family members. They also reported that staff showed better listening skills towards the residents. Furthermore, compared to those in Belgium, family caregivers in the Netherlands perceived staff to be less hurried and more accepting of help from family and felt that staff more often takes the resident seriously.
Conclusion. In the move towards more person-centred care for residents with dementia, this study finds preliminary evidence for the importance of integrating the family perspective.
Relevance to clinical practice. Gaining more insight into the perspectives of family caregivers on the social relations within the ‘caregiving triangle’ may provide knowledge about the importance of the social system surrounding elderly residents with dementia and can provide pointers for future research.