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55 ‘Till death us do part’ an exploration of the psychological implications when caring for a loved one at end of life’
  1. Andrea Ward
  1. Marie Curie, UK


Background To die in their own home is one of the key elements of care for approximately 70% of people living with a terminal illness, with the care predominantly provided at end of life by family caregivers including spouses (Patel 2016). Family members often care for their relative at this stage of life for long periods of time untrained and alone resulting in acute hospice and hospital admissions and an unfilled wish (McGrath 2016).

Aim Review Question: What are the psychological implications of caring for a loved one at end of life in the home setting?

Review objectives:

• To explore any effect on personal relationships.

Method A qualitative systematic search for articles was performed in February 2017 with 757 primary research papers identified from the searches, assessed against the criteria and following analysis were narrowed down to nine.

Results Following thematic analysis, the psychological implications of caring were grouped into five distinct categories and subsequent themes as follows 1) Isolation 2) Responsibility 3) Guilt 4) Interdependency 5) Stress. Effect on relationships identified two themes: Stretched limits, and obligation.

Conclusion The review did demonstrate how caring for a dying family member in the home setting does have psychological implications on the carer and within the relationship with their loved one. Caring for a relative does require a level of resilience and psychological strength to enable this level of caregiving due to the limitations on the carer’s own life. The involvement of the health professional is imperative to ensure these families are able to maintain relationships and fulfil their wishes safely.

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