The meaning of respite care to mothers of children with learning disabilities: Two Irish case studies

L. Hartrey

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10 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing interest in Ireland in the nature and significance of respite care for carers and those for whom they care. The relationship of individual stress with caring full time for a child who is learning disabled is well documented. Provision of respite care is seen as an important means of alleviating individual carer stress. Yet, the apparent benefits of respite care have been called into question. The present study looks at this issue within the context of respite service provision in Ireland for young people with learning disabilities. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the views of two mothers on respite care and, in particular, its personal significance for them within the context of their caring relationship for their children. The authors found that for these two mothers, whilst some of the predicted benefits of respite care were present, for example improved social activity, their use of respite care and the experience of separation initiated feelings of guilt and appeared to engender a degree of emotional stress. It is argued that providers of respite services in Ireland need to consider how they can support parents who use respite care so that they see its use as a mark of caring for their child and thereby alleviate such feelings of guilt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Carer stress
  • Learning disabilities
  • Phenomenology
  • Respite care


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