Stroke is a life-changing event for both stroke survivors and their family caregivers. After receiving acute care at the hospital, family members are expected to take care of stroke survivors at home and to continue treatment and rehabilitation. The new role of "informal caregiver" is a challenge that creates many difficulties for family caregivers that are not explicit in the Sri Lankan context.
This study aimed at exploring family caregivers' experiences of providing informal care for dependent stroke survivors.
The sample was chosen by purposive sampling with a maximum variation by age, ethnicity, religion, educational level, relationship, and monthly income. Ten informal family caregivers to stroke survivors with hemiplegia who had been treated at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka participated in in-depth interviews analyzed using conventional content analysis.
Qualitative content analysis of data resulted in an overriding theme, "Caring with love, against all odds," along with four categories, "Life alterations," "Lack of resources," "Compassionate care," and "Coping strategies." Although the increased workload, restricted social life, physical problems, and knowledge and financial deficits were challenging for the family caregivers, self-strength and supportive social networks helped them to compassionately care for their stroke survivor.
The phenomenon of family caregivers providing informal care for stroke survivors was explicated as compassionate care, notwithstanding numerous difficulties. The findings motivate further research and strategies to minimize family caregivers' burden and facilitate the positive aspects of caregiving to promote the health and well-being of both stroke survivors and their families.
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