caregiving, eldercare, feminism, home care, relationships



  1. Ward-Griffin, Catherine RN, PhD
  2. McKeever, Patricia RN, PhD


Increasing reliance on family care of elderly people at home calls for a critical analysis of the relationship between formal and informal caregivers. Although much has been written about how health professionals and family caregivers should relate to one another, we know very little about the relationships that develop between them. Using data from a qualitative study, this article illustrates that relationships between community nurses and family members caring for frail elders are complex, dynamic, and multifaceted. Shifting boundaries in caring work leads to changes in nurse-family caregiver relationships, which can be categorized as four distinct, yet interconnected, types: (1) nurse-helper, (2) worker-worker, (3) manager-worker, and (4) nurse-patient. Each type is described, and implications for nursing practice and research are discussed.