Objective To explore caregivers’ experiences and challenges of accessing help for adversity across both health and social care sectors.
Design Qualitative study design using semistructured interviews to explore how caregivers accessed services across health and social care. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.
Setting Families living in the city of Wyndham, Victoria, Australia.
Participants 17 caregivers of children aged 0–8 years.
Results Five main themes emerged. (1) Emotional work of getting help. Caregivers described that getting help for life challenges was both emotionally taxing and effortful. (2) Trusting relationships are key. Engagement was related to the degree of relational practice and whether they felt judged or demeaned. (3) Wanting to manage on your own. There was a strong desire by caregivers to be independent and to only seek help when it was absolutely necessary. (4) Importance of knowing help was available and how to access it. (5) Overcoming service access barriers including long waiting times, restricted service criteria, transport issues and out-of-pocket expenses.
Conclusions Caregivers highlighted a multitude of barriers to getting help for life challenges. Addressing these barriers will require services to become more flexible and codesign best approaches with families in ongoing partnership. Improving community knowledge of available services and building trusting relationships is the first step to overcoming these barriers.
- Healthcare Disparities
- Child Health Services
- Qualitative research
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. Full coding tree can be made available on request.
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Contributors SL conceptualised and designed the study, collected the data, carried out the initial analyses, drafted the initial manuscript and reviewed and revised the manuscript. MB collected the data, carried out the initial analyses and reviewed and revised the manuscript. TH, HH, LS and SG conceptualised and designed the study, reviewed and revised the manuscript and critically reviewed the manuscript for important intellectual content. SL is guarantor.
Funding This research is supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Beyond Blue (grant number 1153419). HH is supported by an NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship (1136222). SG is supported by an NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship (1155290). SL is supported by a University of Melbourne Research Training Program Scholarship.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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