The Secret of Senior Home Help
Institute of Sociological Studies Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University in Prague Praha 5 - Jinonice, Czech Republic
My paper deals with the issue of family home help for seniors (informal care) the in Czech Republic. It concerns primary home caregivers who take care for their parents/partners, eventually organize this care. These primary caregivers mostly decided on caring at home (not in an institution) for a senior.
Basically, the paper is a report from a research which was conducted in two phases: First of all the analytical phase was conducted (2006) the core of which was a representative research of adult population in the Czech Republic. Standardized questionnaires about conditions and circumstances of home help for seniors in 800 households in the Czech Republic were used as a method of data collection. This phase was succeeded by a qualitative research phase (2007 - 2008) which used in-depth interviews with primary caregivers as a method of data collection.
Data analysis has verified my hypothesis that primary caregivers behave altruistically. Care-givers sacrifice themselves a lot which leads to their physical and psychical exhaustion, but on the other hand it enables the adjustment of care to senior needs at the same time. The adjustment proceeds on two levels: personal level (primary care-giver and other family members) and technical level (adjusting of environment and equipment of the household to senior and care needs. Care-giving brings inner recompense to care-givers (good sensation, clear conscience). The decision-making process showed to be emotional. Accepting the responsibility for the situation and care-receiver is the primary act in the process of decision-making. Caregivers´ feel of responsibility dissolves intensively in all areas of care. Other important factors of emotional decision-making process are perception of care as a matter of fact and as a reciprocal process. A relationship that care-giver has with senior and negative attitudes towards institutionalized forms of care are also important while deciding. Factor analysis revealed two kinds of reasons. I called them -altruistic (matter of fact, reciprocity, love) and "utilitaristic" (partner, environment) reasons.