Associations of discontinuation of care: A longitudinal analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing?

Maja Fuglsang Palmer
Health & Social Care in the Community 2020 November 26
Informal carers play a vital part to ensuring that individuals in need of care, due to illness or disability, continue to experience a good quality of life. Care provision has been studied extensively, however, little is known about the associations of discontinuing care. This knowledge is important not only to ensure that informal carers are supported, even after caring episode, but also to ensure the care-recipients are not left without support. By conducting longitudinal analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), this paper uniquely starts to unveil the associations of discontinuing the caring role and the patterns of care provision prior to discontinuing. A multivariable binary regression analysis was conducted of the ELSA waves 7 (2015) to 8 (2017), total sample size of N = 6,687. 10.5% (n = 701) respondents were identified as discontinued carers. The dependent variable was care provided in wave 7 but not in wave 8 (a discontinued carer), compared to providing care in both waves (a continuing carer). Socio-demographic, such as age, gender, marital status, economic activity and health acted and caring patterns, such as intensity and relationship with care-recipient, acted as independent variables. Results showed nearly 30% of discontinued carers had provided care to a spouse. Nearly a quarter of continuing carers had transitioned between care-recipients, which raises the question of a potential 'Serial Carer Trajectory'. The regression analysis noted that being divorced or widowed increased the odds of discontinuing care. Providing 20-49 hr of care per week was associated with lower odds of discontinuing the role. This paper suggests that policymakers should take a holistic approach to policies to support carers through all stages of their caring journey, including after discontinuing the caring role. This could ensure carers settle into life post-caring and continue to feel valued and recognised.

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