Informal caregivers’ views on the division of responsibilities between themselves and professionals: A scoping review

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Abstract

This scoping review focuses on the views of informal caregivers regarding the division of care responsibilities between citizens, governments and professionals and the question of to what extent professionals take these views into account during collaboration with them. In Europe, the normative discourse on informal care has changed. Retreating governments and decreasing residential care increase the need to enhance the collaboration between informal caregivers and professionals. Professionals are assumed to adequately address the needs and wishes of informal caregivers, but little is known about informal caregivers’ views on the division of care responsibilities. We performed a scoping review and searched for relevant studies published between 2000 and September 1, 2016 in seven databases. Thirteen papers were included, all published in Western countries. Most included papers described research with a qualitative research design. Based on the opinion of informal caregivers, we conclude that professionals do not seem to explicitly take into account the views of informal caregivers about the division of responsibilities during their collaboration with them. Roles of the informal caregivers and professionals are not always discussed and the division of responsibilities sometimes seems unclear. Acknowledging the role and expertise of informal caregivers seems to facilitate good collaboration, as well as attitudes such as professionals being open and honest, proactive and compassionate. Inflexible structures and services hinder good collaboration. Asking informal caregivers what their opinion is about the division of responsibilities could improve clarity about the care that is given by both informal caregivers and professionals and could improve their collaboration. Educational programs in social work, health and allied health professions should put more emphasis on this specific characteristic of collaboration.

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