Positive and negative outcomes of informal caregiving at home and in institutionalised long-term care: a cross-sectional study.BMC Geriatr. 2017 10 10; 17(1):232.BG
Our ageing society is putting tremendous strain on public health and welfare programs to meet the needs of ageing individuals. Promoting informal caregiving is one way for policymakers to reduce this burden. However, caregiving may be experienced as stressful and is associated with adverse health consequences. While quite a lot of research focuses on caregiving for community-dwelling older adults, little is known about informal care in institutionalised long-term care (ILTC). Therefore, the objectives of this study were: 1) to compare characteristics of informal caregivers and care receivers and caregiver outcomes - at home and in ILTC; 2) to study the association between these characteristics and positive and negative caregiver outcomes; 3) to investigate the moderating effect of the setting (at home vs. ILTC) on these associations.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using the TOPICS-MDS DataSet. A total of 5197 Dutch dyads were included. The average age of the care receivers and caregivers was respectively 80.7 years and 63.2 years. Several sociodemographic, health-related and caregiving-related characteristics of care receiver and caregiver and two caregiver outcomes (i.e., subjective burden and care-related quality of life) were included in the analyses.
Caregivers in both settings experienced comparable levels of subjective burden. Caregivers at home had slightly lower care-related quality of life than caregivers in ILTC. Several care receiver characteristics (i.e., male sex, married/cohabiting, more morbidities/disability, and less self-perceived health/psychological wellbeing) and several caregiver characteristics (i.e., female sex, being younger, living together with the care receiver, more objective burden, less self-perceived health, and more support) were associated with an increase in burden and/or a decrease in care-related quality of life. Some of these associations were stronger for dyads at home compared to dyads in ILTC.
Informal caregiving does not stop with admission to an ILTC facility. Both settings need an informal caregiving policy, which is (1) tailored to the individual characteristics of care receivers and caregivers; (2) pays attention to the identified risk groups; and (3) reduces the negative caregiver outcomes and emphasizes the positive outcomes at the same time.