Life after caring: the post-caring experiences of former carers

Larkin, Mary (2009). Life after caring: the post-caring experiences of former carers. British Journal of Social Work, 39(6) pp. 1026–1042.



This qualitative study was informed by grounded theory and data were gathered primarily through semi-structured in-depth interviews with thirty-seven theoretically sampled former carers. They were all white British, lived in the East Midlands and were predominately over sixty (68 per cent) and female (70 per cent). With the exception of one, all had cared for a close relative, 65 per cent having cared for a partner/spouse. Most of their dependants were older adults and each case the cessation of caring had coincided with the death of the dependant. The findings showed that post-caring life for the interviewees had an identifiable trajectory with three phases—the ‘post-caring void’, ‘closing down “the caring time” and ‘constructing life post-caring’. Each of these phases involved a distinct set of experiences. In addition, the study established that 70 per cent of those in the sample had cared more than once. Thus, two new concepts—’the post-caring trajectory’ and the ‘serial carer’— were developed to reflect these findings. Suggestions are made about ways in which policy, practice and further research can be developed in order to ensure there is effective provision for those who have ceased caring.

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