Advances in Mental Health, Vol 9, No 1 (2010)

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Respite Care for Mental Health Carers: Carers’ Views on Respite Care for Adults with Mental Disorders

Kenneth I Pakenham, Claudia Jardim

Abstract


This study examined informal mental health carers' perceptions of respite care. Participants were 106 carers caring for an adult with mental illness recruited through carer support organizations. Carers provided written responses to open-ended questions covering four areas: barriers, positive and negative aspects, and improvements associated with respite care. A total of 36% had accessed respite care and 64% had never accessed respite care. The most frequently reported respite themes for both users and non-users in each of the four areas relevant to carers and care recipients were: barriers - care-recipient's reluctance to use respite (e.g., refusal, psychiatric symptoms hamper access, denial of mental disorder; carer positives - caregiving relief (e.g., opportunity to relax, break from caring role); care recipient positives - socializing and participation in  activities; carer negatives - problematic characteristics of the service (e.g., irregular or inflexible services, staffing problems); care recipient negatives - lack of suitable activities; carer improvements - increased access and availability of services; care recipient improvements - greater support and understanding of mental health issues. Findings indicate that respite care services should be tailored to the demands of mental health caregiving providing flexibility in options across factors such as frequency, duration, location, transport access, support levels, staff training, activities and routines, graduated entry, type of respite (e.g., in-home, hospital, drop-in centre), and crisis/acute respite.






Advances in Mental Health
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