Core Aspects of "Empowering" Caregivers as Articulated by Leaders in Home Health Care: Palliative and Chronic Illness Contexts

Kelli I. Stajduhar, Laura Funk, Faye Wolse, Valorie Crooks, Della Roberts, Allison M. Williams, Denise Cloutier-Fisher, Barbara McLeod

Abstract


Home-based family caregivers are often assisted by home care services founded upon principles of health promotion, such as empowerment. Using an interpretive approach and in-depth qualitative interviews, the authors examine descriptions of family empowerment by leaders and managers in the field of home health care in the province of British Columbia, Canada. In a culture of fiscal restraint, dying at home, and self-care, participants described how home care nurses empower family caregivers to meet these objectives. This involves educating and informing caregivers, engaging them in planning and decision-making, and reassuring them that their role is manageable and worthwhile. Though some participants viewed providing supports as empowering (e.g., during times of crisis), others viewed them as disempowering (by promoting dependence). Empowered caregivers were characterized as able to provide home care, confident of their capabilities, and believing that their work is positive and beneficial. The long-term goal of empowerment was characterized as client self-care and/or family care and decreased dependence on formal services.

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