The Dynamic Experience of Caring

  • Patrick Barrett
  • Beatrice Hale
  • Mary Butler


The focus here is on outlining a rite of passage framework for uncovering the transition experiences of individuals as they adopt the role and responsibilities of an informal caregiver. The framework implies a beginning point of change, a period of confusion and instability, and passage towards a new point of stability and reconnection. This approach has been used elsewhere (Hale B, Barrett P, Gauld R, The age of supported in-dependence. Springer, Dordrecht, 2010) in our analysis of the transition into supported independence in later life, and facilitates a detailed analysis of the experiences of change through a key life transition – in this instance, that of becoming a caregiver. Focussing on the three stages provides for the analysis of the complex changes faced by the caregiver, these occurring within broader socially constructed contexts which define the nature of family relationships and responsibilities, as well as the policy measures to support those relationships and responsibilities. Our approach to the analysis of transitions in the experience of caring, which allows for attention to be given to key moments of need, and use of the concept of social capital to comment on the way various social and collectively provided resources create environments which influence the capacities for care, we believe makes a contribution to understanding family and informal care.


Informal Care Informal Caregiver Formal Care Care Situation Separation Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Further Reading

  1. Hockey, J., & James, A. (1993). Growing up and growing old. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Milligan, C. (2001). Geographies of care: Space, place and the voluntary sector. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  3. Nolan, M., Grant, G., & Keady, J. (1996). Understanding family care: A multi-dimensional model of caring and coping. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Power, A. (2010). Landscapes of care. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  5. Twigg, J. (2000). The body and community care. London: Routledge.Google Scholar


  1. Aneshenal, C., Perlin, L., Jullan, J., Zarit, S., & Whitlatch, J. (1995). Profiles in caregiving: The unexpected career. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, P., Kletchko, S., Twitchin, S., Ryan, F., & Fowler, V. (2005). Transitions in later life: A qualitative inquiry into the experience of resilience and frailty. Tauranga: University of Waikato.Google Scholar
  3. Bridges, W. (2001). The way of transitions: Embracing life’s most difficult moments. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bury, M. (1982). Chronic illness as biographical disruption. Sociology of Health & Illness, 4(2), 137–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cameron, J., & Gignac, M. (2008). Timing it right: A conceptual framework for addressing the support needs of family caregivers to stroke survivors from the hospital to the home. Patient Education and Counselling, 70, 05–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman, H. (1997). Self-help groups, family carers and mental health. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 6(4), 148–155.Google Scholar
  7. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Rochberg-Halton, E. (1981). The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davey, J. (2006). Research on ageing in New Zealand: Progress, gaps and the potential contribution of EWAS research (Enhancing Wellbeing in an Ageing Society Working Paper 3). Wellington.Google Scholar
  9. Ducharme, F., Levesque, L., Lachance, L., et al. (2011). Learning to become a family caregiver. Efficacy of an intervention Program for Caregivers Following Diagnosis of Dementia in a Relative. The Gerontologist, 51(4), 484–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Efraimsson, E., Hoglund, I., & Sandman, P. (2001). The everlasting trial of strength and patience: Transitions in home care nursing as narrated by patients and family members. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 10, 813–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fine, M. (2006). A caring society? Care and the dilemmas of human services in the 21st century. Houndmills: Palgrave/MacMillan.Google Scholar
  12. Frank, J. (2002). The paradox of aging in place in assisted living. Westport: Bergin and Garvey.Google Scholar
  13. Hale, B. (2000). From partner to carer: A description of changes in language and networks amongst family caregivers. Social Work Review, 12(1), 7–10.Google Scholar
  14. Hale, B. (2006). The meaning of home as it becomes a place for care – The emergence of a new life stage for frail older people? Ph.D. thesis for the University of Otago, Dunedin.Google Scholar
  15. Hale, B., Barrett, P., & Gauld, R. (2010). The age of supported independence. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hallman, B. (1999). The transition into eldercare – An uncelebrated passage. In E. K. Teather (Ed.), Embodied geographies: Space, bodies and rites of passage (pp. 208–223). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Haveman, M., Berkum, G., Reijnders, R., & Heller, T. (1997). Differences in service needs, time demands and caregiving dimensions among parents of persons with mental retardation. Family Relations, 46(4), 417–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heaton, J. (1999). The gauze and visibility of the carer: A Foucauldian analysis of the discourse of informal care. Sociology of Health & Illness, 21(6), 759–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hirst, M. (2005). Carer distress: A prospective, population-based study. Social Science & Medicine, 61(3), 697–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hockey, J., & James, A. (1993). Growing up and growing old. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Hockey, J., & James, A. (2003). Social identities across the life course (1st ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Hugman, R. (1999). Embodying old age. In E. K. Teather (Ed.), Embodied geographies: Space, bodies and rites of passage (pp. 193–207). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Janlov, A., Hallberg, I., & Petersson, K. (2006). Older persons’ experience of being assessed for and receiving public home help: Do they have any influence over it? Health & Social Care in the Community, 14(1), 26–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jeggels, J. (2006). Facilitating care: The experiences of informal carers during the transition of elderly dependents from hospital to home – A grounded theory study. Doctoral dissertation for the School of Nursing, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  25. Larson, J., Franzén-Dahlin, A., Billing, B., von Arbin, M., Murray, V., & Wredling, R. (2008). The impact of gender regarding psychological well-being and general life situation among spouses of stroke patients during the first year after the patients’ stroke event: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45(2), 257–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Milligan, C. (2001). Geographies of care: Space, place and the voluntary sector. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  27. Montgomery, R., & Kosloski, K. (2000). Family caregiving: Change, continuity and diversity. In P. Lawton & R. Rubenstein (Eds.), Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias: Strategies in care and research. New York: Springer Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  28. Nolan, M., Keady, J., & Grant, G. (1995). Developing a typology of family care: Implications for nurses and other service providers. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 21(2), 256–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nolan, M., Lundh, U., Keady, J., & Grant, G. (2003). Partnerships in family care. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Olaison, A., & Cedersund, E. (2006). Assessment for home care: Negotiating solutions for individual needs. Journal of Aging Studies, 20, 367–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Parks, J. (2003). No place like home. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Pereira, H. R., & Botelho, R. (2011). Sudden informal caregivers: The lived experience of informal caregivers after an unexpected event. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 20, 2448–2457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Power, A. (2010). Landscapes of care. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  34. Richards, S. (2000). Bridging the divide: Elders and the assessment process. British Journal of Social Work, 30(1), 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rose, H. (1994). Love, power, and knowledge: Towards a feminist transformation of the sciences. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Saarenheimo, M., Nikula, S., & Eskola, P. (2004). Exploring the cultural borderlines of family caregiving. Paper presented at ISER, University of Essex.
  37. Suitor, K., Pillemer, J., & Wethington, E. (2003). Integrating theory, basic research, and intervention: Two case studies from caregiving research. The Gerontologist, 43, 19–28.Google Scholar
  38. Teather, E. K. (Ed.). (1999). Embodied geographies: Space, bodies and rites of passage. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Turner, V. (1969). The ritual process. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  40. Twigg, J. (2000). The body and community care. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Van Gennep, A. (1909/1960). The rites of passage (M. B. Vizedom & G. L. Caffee, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Wallengren, C., Friberg, F., & Segesten, K. (2008). Like a shadow: On becoming a stroke victim’s relative. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 22(1), 48–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Weaver, S. (1999). Looking the other way: Raising children with special needs in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Auckland: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  44. Wenger, C. (2002). Using network variation in practice: Identification of support network type. Health & Social Care in the Community, 10(1), 28–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Westenholz, A. (2006). Identity, times and work. Time & Society, 15(1), 33–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wiles, J. (2003). Daily geographies of caregivers: Mobility, routine, scale. Social Science & Medicine, 57(7), 1307–1325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wilson, H. S. (1989). Family caregiving for a relative with Alzheimer’s dementia: Coping with negative choices. Nursing Research, 38(2), 94–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science and Business Media Dordrecht. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Barrett
    • 1
  • Beatrice Hale
    • 2
  • Mary Butler
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.DunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Occupational TherapyOtago PolytechnicDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations