Aim Children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities are becoming increasingly dependent on technology and medication to sustain life (Hewitt-Taylor 2008). These medications are largely managed by mothers at home (Davies & Carter 2013). The aim of this paper is to discuss a research study which explored mothers’ experiences of ‘giving medicines’ to children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities.
Methods A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was adopted collecting data through multiple interviews and diaries. Fifteen mothers of children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities were recruited through a number of organisations. Ethical permissions were received from the University and the organisations adopted in the study. Data analysis was informed by the work of van Manen (1997) using a framework of understanding that facilitates the hermeneutic philosophy. The author adopted all three methods for isolating thematic statements; detailed reading approach, the selective or highlighting approach and the holistic reading approach in the analytical phase.
Results Findings indicate that the physical act of giving medicines poses a daily challenge for all of the participants with key problem areas such as medicine refusal, difficulty in swallowing, masking, disguise and alteration of consistency. Timing of administration and its relation to eating and drinking is also a key factor for consideration.
Conclusion This study is an important step in recognising the mothers’ role in ‘giving medicines’.
Recommendations arising from this study include; development of a contemporary education package for parents in terms of best practice in ‘giving medicines’ on a daily basis and service provider individually tailored support packages that consider individual needs and adaptation of practice for the home setting. Moreover, the study outcomes will benefit children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities who require medication related care.
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