Former carers: issues from the literature

Cavaye, Joyce and Watts, Jacqueline H. (2018). Former carers: issues from the literature. Families, Relationships and Societies, 7(1) pp. 141–157.



The aim of this review is to explore existing knowledge about former carers. These are individuals who were previously unpaid carers but for whom caregiving has now ended. Research has focused on the phase of caregiving when carers are actively providing care. Thus, while there is an extensive literature about caregiving, there is limited understanding about the post-caregiving experiences of former carers. Electronic searches of major bibliographic databases found relatively little literature on ‘former’ carers but much on ‘bereaved’ carers who are by virtue of bereavement, also former carers. This review explores existing knowledge on former carers with the intention of increasing understanding about their experiences post-caregiving. It reviews the evidence to determine what impact caregiving has on carers’ lives in the post-caregiving period. Findings suggest that former carers experience high levels of psychological distress and that caregiving has a profound and long lasting impact on their lives.

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