Objective: To explore the burdens experienced by family carers who support older relatives to manage their medications at home. Methods: This study, based on a larger UK medication management study: MEdication Management in Older people: Realist Approaches Based on Literature and Evaluation (MEMORABLE), reports on findings from family carer interviews (n = 16). The five stages of medication management, identified in MEMORABLE, were used to inform the analysis. Results: Family carers described being involved in some or all five of the MEMORABLE stages to help manage older relatives’ medications. Their capacity to undertake this role was sometimes limited by the complex workload involved as well personal circumstances such as time, distance and relationships. Family carers perceived that their knowledge and skills in medication management improved with experience, but also described stress associated with information lag and gaps, risk and responsibility, and loss. They described medication management burdens that needed mitigation: ambiguity, concealment, unfamiliarity, fragmentation and in particular exclusion, conflicted interests and expectation of coping. Conclusion: To help mitigate these burdens, family carers should receive better information, training and support for this role. Practice implications: Continued reliance on family carers for medication management requires strategic recognition in policy, funding and practice.
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This study re-analyses a family carer subset from the UK medication management study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): MEdication Management in Older people: Realist Approaches Based on Literature and Evaluation (MEMORABLE) [14–16] . MEMORABLE aimed to understand medication management from the perspective of older people living with co-morbidities treated with complex medication regimens, as well as family carers and health and care practitioners. Two aspects of MEMORABLE inform this study.
- Family carers
- Medication management
- Older people