Exploring formal care providers’ perspectives of the support needs of older male spousal caregivers: a focus group study

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Formal support comprises services provided by health, social care and community-based agencies (CBAs), including charities. Evidence indicates poor uptake of formal support by older male care-givers who often fail to accept help until a crisis point is reached. Given the growing recognition of caregiving as gendered, there is a need for an enhanced understanding of how support providers can assess and address the needs of this caregiving sub-group. The aim of this study was to explore formal care providers' perspectives of support for older male spousal care-givers through focus group interviews. The study was conducted in a region in the United Kingdom (UK) with four CBAs (participants: n = 33), and five statutory healthcare providers (participants: n = 51). Thematic data analysis resulted in the identification of three themes: Service Priorities, Engaging Men, Assessment of Need. Findings revealed that service flexibility was key to providing support; difficulties in engaging men in support and low take-up of carers' assessments were potential barriers to support. Social workers should have an in-depth understanding of how caregiving is gendered and how this may influence the support needs of older male spousal care-givers. Enhanced carers' assessment training, which highlights collaboration in planning and delivery of tailored support, may result in support that enables older male care-givers to sustain their caregiving role.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbcaa019
Pages (from-to)205-222
Number of pages18
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date15 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers.


  • care-giver
  • gender
  • male
  • masculinity
  • spousal
  • support


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