Impact of disability on families: grandparents' perspectives
Article first published online: 3 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Special Issue: Part Two: Family Quality of Life (Edited by Ralph Kober and Mian Wang)
Volume 56, Issue 1, pages 102–110, January 2012
How to Cite
Miller, E., Buys, L. and Woodbridge, S. (2012), Impact of disability on families: grandparents' perspectives. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56: 102–110. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2011.01403.x
- Issue published online: 15 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 3 MAR 2011
- Accepted 31 January 2011
- family relationships;
- intellectual disability
Background Caring for a child with a disability can be a unique and challenging experience, with families often relying on informal networks for support. Often, grandparents are key support resources, yet little is known about their roles and experiences. Reporting on data collected in a larger Australian study, this article explores grandparents' experiences of caring for a child with a disability and the impact on their family relationships and quality of life.
Method A qualitative purposive sampling design was utilised; semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 grandparents (17 women, 5 men) of children with a disability. Grandparents ranged in age from 55 to 75 years old and lived within a 90-min drive of Brisbane, Australia. Interviews were transcribed and responses analysed using a thematic approach, identifying categories, themes and patterns.
Findings Four key themes characterised grandparents' views about their role in the family: holding own emotions (decision to be positive), self-sacrifice (decision to put family needs first), maintaining family relationships (being the ‘go-between’) and quality of life for family in the future (concerns about the future).
Conclusions Grandparents are central to family functioning and quality of life, but this contribution comes with a significant cost to their own personal well-being. Implications for policy, practice and research are discussed, particularly grandparents' fear that their family could not cope without their support.