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, including charities. Evidence indicates poor uptake of formal support by older male caregivers 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 enhanced understanding of how support providers can assess and address the needs of this caregiving sub-group. The aim of the study was to explore formal care providers’ perspectives of support for older male spousal caregivers through focus group interviews. The study was conducted in a region in the United Kingdom with four community-based agencies (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 a 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 caregivers. Enhanced carers’ assessment training, which highlights collaboration in planning and delivery of tailored support, may result in support which enables older male caregivers 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 - 31 Jan 2021


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


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