Authors: Tretteteig S, Vatne S, Rokstad AM
BMC Geriatr. 2017 Jan 05;17(1):5
BACKGROUND: Dementia is one of the most challenging age-related illnesses for family caregivers, whose care-related burden is well known. Research indicates that day care centres (DCCs) can reduce the caregiver burden and help family caregivers to cope with demands; however, the current body of knowledge is still tentative and inconsistent, and more research is recommended. The aim of this study is to provide an extended understanding of the situation of family caregivers and to examine to what extent DCCs can meet their need for support and respite.
METHODS: This study has a qualitative descriptive design using in-depth interviews with 17 family caregivers of people with dementia attending DCCs. The data analysis was undertaken using systematic text condensation.
RESULTS: Caregivers experience a complex role, with added responsibilities, new tasks, and emotional and relational challenges that are expressed through distressing emotions and demands for interaction. Additionally, the caregiving role leads to positive experiences, such as acceptance and adaptation, support and help, and positive changes in the relationship. Day care relieves family caregivers by meeting the person with dementia's needs for social community, nutrition, physical activity, and structure and variety in everyday life. Using a DCC led to a higher quality of time spent together and easier cooperation, but it also produced some hard feelings and challenging situations. DCCs gave the caregivers a feeling of freedom and increased the time available to be spent on their own needs, to be social and to work or do practical tasks undisturbed.
CONCLUSIONS: DCCs for people with dementia can give family caregivers support and relief and have a positive impact on the relationship between the family caregiver and the person with dementia. A more individualized program, in addition to flexible opening hours, would make DCCs even more effective as a respite service, positively influencing the family caregiver's motivation and ability to care and postponing the need for nursing home placement.