Support for family carers who care for an elderly person at home – a systematic literature review

Authors


Peter Stoltz, School of Health and Society, Malmö University, SE-205 06 Malmö, Sweden.
E-mail: peter.stoltz@hs.mah.se

Abstract

Family carers are a major source of help and assistance to the persons they provide care for. They are also major contributors to the welfare system, balancing the national health care expenditure. Increasing attention, in research as well as government policy, is being paid to their role as informal caregivers. Support to family carers seems to be a new ‘buzzword’ in Swedish Government policy. However, supporting family carers may prove to be a more complex endeavour than one initially might be led to believe. Support could here be understood as any services, assistances, education, information, attitudes, and lay or professional person's provision for the benefit of the family carer. The aim of this systematic review was to identify modes of, and scientific evidence on, support for family carers of cohabiting elderly persons. The method followed a seven-step model: a focused research question was formulated creating a base for deriving search words and inclusion and exclusion criteria for studies. Systematic database searches identified several studies some of which were retrieved, critically appraised and classified by two independent reviewers. A total of 26 articles were finally included, revealing that family carers fear social isolation and wish to network in groups with peers, either for social or for learning needs purposes. Family carers also desire respite care. However, it is unclear whether they actually benefit from any of the above or how service provision should be attempted.

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