An Exploration of Factors Contributing to Compassion Fatigue in Family Caregivers Providing Care to Older Adult Relatives
MetadataShow full item record
This qualitative research study explored factors contributing to compassion fatigue in family caregivers who were assisting paid staff by helping to provide care to older adult relatives residing in long-term care facilities. Compassion fatigue is an emotional state with negative physical and psychological consequences resulting from prolonged caregiving to people experiencing intense suffering or misfortune. Although compassion fatigue is applied in the literature primarily to health care professionals, family caregivers may be vulnerable to compassion fatigue in part because of their affectional ties with individuals for whom they are caring. Study participants were family members who assisted staff in providing physical, emotional, and / or spiritual care to their relatives living in long-term care facilities. Data were collected by observation and through conversations with family caregivers. Narrative analysis and poetic interpretation were the routes of data analysis. The major themes identified include relentless vigilance, consistent inconsistency, and role confusion. The themes are discussed within Pearlin, Mullan, Semple and Skaff’s stress process model for family caregiving broadened to apply to the long-term care environment. Practical recommendations for preventing or minimizing compassion fatigue in family caregivers who are caring for older-adults are described.