Understanding the Experience of Choice: An Interpretive Description Exploring the Experiences of Family Caregivers

  • Author / Creator
    Hyde, Ashley
  • Over the last 20 years, policy has moved towards more patient-centered healthcare. Choice has been at the forefront of this agenda, including policy that outlines care for older persons. Currently, minimal research explores how choice is experienced by family caregivers helping older persons access supportive living services. The research question that guided this study was: How is choice understood by family caregivers of older persons awaiting placement in supportive living? Using Thorne’s interpretive description approach, 12 family caregivers were interviewed and provided a rich description of their experience of choice while caring for an older relative awaiting placement in designated supportive living. Family caregivers reported that their experience of choice occurred in a context where they juggled multiple responsibilities alongside their caregiving roles, such as complex family relationships and employment, while facing relative uncertainty with finances and in the placement process for their older relative, who was experiencing significant declines in their health status, threatening their ability to remain safe in an independent setting. Four themes related to the caregiver’s experience of choice were identified: (i) Making everyday choices, (ii) Seeing possibilities, (iii) Valuing the ability to choose, and (iv) Acknowledging the impacts and outcomes of choice. Participants described their personal experiences of choice as unique, shaped by their personality and outlook on life. They also described their experience of choice as everyday, where many choices were made on a daily basis including adjusting their personal schedules as well as sacrificing and balancing their own needs with those of their relative. Their experience of choice, and the choices that they made as caregivers, did not occur in a vacuum, but rather had significant impacts on their relationships with others. Despite the often uncertain context in which the participants provided care, they were able to see the possibilities in their individual circumstances and ultimately find choice. The findings from this study provide new insight into the experience of choice of family caregivers caring for their older relatives waiting for placement in designated supportive living. As the proportion of older persons within Canada continues to grow, family caregivers will play an increasingly crucial role. Both healthcare providers and policymakers should consider the complexities of caregiving to support the creation of policy and a tailored practice approach to improve the caregiver’s experience of choice.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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