Caring for people with dementia : positive aspects, self-compassion and coping
Lloyd, Joanna (Clinical psychologist)
This thesis explores the experiences of informal carers of people with dementia. Undertaking a caregiving role can have a wide range of implications for the carer from negative outcomes such as increased physical and psychological stress to positive experiences such as a sense of pride or mastery in the role. Through further exploration of these differing experiences, this thesis informs understanding of the caregiving role and suggests new directions for carer support and research.\ud \ud The first paper is a critical review of the qualitative research exploring the positive aspects of caregiving in dementia. After database and manual searches were conducted, fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Carers across the studies consistently described a variety of positive aspects of caregiving. They also highlighted a number of factors that were important in supporting their positive caregiving experiences. Clinical implications relating to the inclusion of positive aspects in the holistic assessment and support of caregivers are discussed.\ud \ud The second paper reports on a quantitative study that explored the relationship between self-compassion, dysfunctional and emotion-focused coping strategies and carer burden. Survey data was collected from 73 informal caregivers of people with dementia. Carers with higher levels of self-compassion reported lower levels of carer burden. The use of less dysfunctional coping strategies was found to mediate this relationship. Emotion-focused coping strategies were not found to be a mediator. Clinically, compassion-based interventions represent a potentially useful intervention for carers.\ud \ud The final paper reflects on the differing contributions of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to research in psychology. The impact of the different methods on participants is considered along with the challenges to conducting diverse research in clinical settings. The scientist-practitioner nature of clinical psychologist role is noted as key in both respectfully representing participants and valuing the use of varied, clinically relevant research.
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