Caregiving Experiences of Community-Based Caregivers for the Elderly in China

Talk by Honglin Chen, Fudan University

An important part of long-term care system in China are the services provided by community caregivers associated with older peoples’ quality of life. In order to understand the nature of caregiving experiences among community-based caregivers for the elderly and to identify critical factors that affect those experiences; we employed a qualitative approach to study community-based caregivers in a selected community in Pudong, Shanghai, in southeastern China. Semi-structured in-depth interviews and focus group interviews were conducted among 20 community-based caregivers in the spring of 2015.

This study found that: (1) The community-based caregivers for the elderly that we interviewed were mainly middle-aged or older and mostly female, and they tended to live close to the elderly in order to maintain a convenient and pleasant caregiving service for both parties. They were in the bottom tier of the income system, and they were pessimistic about their future careers. Their jobs involved a great deal of multitasking, which was quite informal. (2) The community-based caregivers had positive experiences in terms of direct caregiving activities, characterized by a sense of achievement and satisfaction with their relationship with the care recipient, their social role, and their personal growth. They felt somehow a sense of felt competent at their job. (3) However, they had had some negative experiences, mainly resulting from "dealing with" the elderly and "battling" with the elderly’s families. They also complained about their workloads and worried about their futures. (4) Based on analysis of the interviews, the main factors influencing caregiving experiences were categorized as personal factors, work factors, or social factors. Suggestions to improve the community caregivers’ caregiving experiences are discussed, and some suggestions to improve the long-term care system for the elderly in China are presented.

Honglin Chen is an associate professor and the vice chair at the Department of Social Work, Fudan university. She has been working in the research area on family, aging, social capital, and social services for the past few years and has published more than 20 papers internationally. She is good at conducting quantitative and qualitative research methodology in social research. She is a good partner for teamwork and has been actively engaged in a few interdisciplinary research projects. She has a stout belief on transferring research knowledge to practical world and has been engaging in many community services.

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Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2016