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aged, 80 and over, home-care services



  1. Porter, Eileen J.


Background: Scholars and practitioners have defined home care as a set of services that older persons receive at home. There have been few empirical studies of the essence of the experience.


Objectives: To describe the experience of home care for older widows living alone in their own homes. Findings are reported from one aim of the study, which was to discern the phenomena that were descriptive of the experience of the sample as a whole.


Method: A descriptive phenomenological method was used. Participants met inclusion criteria for duration of widowhood, continuing residence in their own homes since the husband's death, number of adult children, self-rated health, and study-specific mental competence. Over a 3-year period, seven tape-recorded interviews were conducted in the homes of 25 widows over the age of 80. Foci of interest were the women's perceptions, actions, and intentions relative to their helpers and the help they had while living alone. The structures of the experience and its context were discerned and detailed in the form of taxonomies of phenomena and contextual features.


Results: The common phenomena were sorting out who can best do what needs to be done, protecting my standby, mobilizing my standby to help with this job too, and working together to get the job done. A new definition of home care was proposed, incorporating those phenomena.


Discussion: These older widows were not merely receiving home-care services. They were negotiating reliance on their standby helpers in specific ways. As home-care nurses plan care with widows and their other helpers, they should set aside standard definitions of home care that pertain to providing services and focus on the intentions of the older widows whom they serve.