Evid Based Nurs 5:32 doi:10.1136/ebn.5.1.32
  • Qualitative

Spouses who placed partners in care homes experienced emotional reactions to separation and made efforts to maintain their relationship

 QUESTION: What are the experiences of family carers after placing a spouse in a care home?


Grounded theory.


A municipality in southern Sweden.


12 spouses {8 wives and 4 husbands}* who had placed a partner in a care home within the past 6–12 months.


In semistructured interviews, participants were asked about their experiences after admitting a spouse to a care home. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Constant comparison was used to elaborate on the themes derived from a previous set of interviews, particularly the processes of separation and continuity in maintaining relationships (“keeping”).

Main findings

The process of separation included 4 elements: pretending, dawning, putting on a brave face, and seeking solace. Pretending involved the carers convincing themselves that their spouse's admission to a care home was simply a trial separation and was not permanent. Dawning referred to the growing awareness that the placement was permanent. Subverting their feelings and needs led the carers to putting on a brave face …

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