Mrs Rachel Quigley1,2, Professor Michele Foster2, Dr Desley Harvey1, Dr Carolyn Ehrlich2
1Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Australia, 2Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
Aims: The move towards older people being managed for longer in the community puts the onus on informal carers to navigate, negotiate and manage care. This study explores the experiences and perspectives of informal carers of older community dwelling adults, to investigate the systemic work they undertake, and the expectations and assumptions made of them, in order to elicit how they make sense of the work associated with care of the older person.
Methods: A qualitative study using descriptive phenomenological methodology was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a diverse range of carers residing in Far North Queensland. An inductive process of thematic analysis was used to generate a representation of the caring experience and meaning of the systemic work.
Results: Preliminary findings suggest systemic challenges exist when interfacing with aged and health care systems. These challenges relate to navigating multiple, often complex, multilayered organisations for access to support and information, and dealing with repeated assessment processes. Findings indicate that in some instances, participants draw on skills developed through professional careers to manage the systemic work associated with their caring role.
Discussion/recommendations: It is assumed carers are willing, prepared, and capable of taking on the responsibilities expected of them in the care of older people with complex health and support needs. Systemic tasks are time consuming, yet many carers have the capacity through their ability or readiness to address demands, to persevere despite significant workloads. Findings assist clinicians to better to support carers by understanding their experiences and challenges.
Rachel Quigley is a physiotherapist with an interest in aged care. She has worked in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Australia. She holds a clinical role in Cairns Hospital, as the Older Persons Liaison Advanced Clinician and a position with James Cook University as part of the Health Ageing Research Team on projects involved with dementia and ageing targeted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in Far North Queensland. She is currently undertaking a MPhil through Griffith University focusing on carer experiences and has received funding support from a NAHSSS scholarship through SARRAH.