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When chronic critical illness is a family affair: A multi-perspective qualitative study of family involvement in long-term care.

Chronic Illness 2022 November 26
OBJECTIVE: Those with chronic critical illness (CCI) remain dependent on life-sustaining treatments and increasingly reside in long-term care facilities equipped to meet their needs. The nature of family involvement in care remains undetermined thwarting approaches to mitigate poor family outcomes. The research objective was to explicate family involvement in the care of an individual with CCI who resides in long-term care.

METHODS: In this qualitative research, we used thematic analysis and constant comparative techniques to analyze data from interviews with 38 participants: 11 family members, 6 residents with CCI, and 21 healthcare providers.

RESULTS: Involvement in care entailed family: (1) reorienting their life despite the stress and emotional toll; (2) assuming responsibility for meaningful activities and management of practical matters, yet struggling alone; (3) advocating for care by being present, reminding and pushing, and picking their battles; and (4) figuring out how to contribute to nursing care, but with unclear expectations.

DISCUSSION: The burden of family caregiving was substantial, contrasting the assumption that family are relieved of their caregiver responsibilities when the patient with CCI is in a care facility. Research to address unmet family needs specific to their roles and responsibilities could potentially improve family outcomes and is warranted.

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