Caring precariously: An interpretive description of palliative care and welfare worker perspectives on experiences of end of life carers with social welfare needs

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Palliative Medicine, 2020, 35, (1), pp. 169-178
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Background: Caring at end-of-life is associated with financial burden, economic disadvantage, and psychosocial sequelae. Health and social welfare systems play a significant role in coordinating practical resources and support in this context. However, little is known about social policy and interactions with public institutions that shape experiences of informal carers with social welfare needs at end-of-life. Aim: To explore ways in which palliative care and welfare sector workers perceive and approach experiences and needs of carers of people with life-limiting illnesses who receive government income support or housing assistance, in an area of recognised socioeconomic disadvantage. Design: An interpretive descriptive study employed in-depth, qualitative interviews to explore participants’ reflections on working with carers of someone with a life-limiting illness. Data were analysed using the framework approach. Setting/participants: Twenty-one workers employed within three public services in [region] were recruited. Results: Workers articulated understandings of welfare policy and its consequences for carers at end-of-life, including precariousness in relation to financial and housing circumstances. Identified resources and barriers to the navigation of social welfare needs by carers were categorised as personal, interpersonal and structural. Conclusions: Caring at end-of-life while navigating welfare needs was seen to be associated with precariousness by participants, particularly for carers positioned in vulnerable social locations. Findings highlighted experiences of burdensome system navigation, inconsistent processes and inequity. Further exploration of structural determinants of experience is needed, including aspects of palliative care and welfare practice and investment in inter-agency infrastructure for supporting carers at end-of-life.
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