Open Access Research article

Why carers use adult day respite: a mixed method case study

Christine M Stirling1*, Corinna A Dwan2 and Angela R McKenzie3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 135, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia

2 School of Health Sciences, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 135, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia

3 Glenview Community Services, 2-10 Windsor St, Glenorchy, Tasmania 7010, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:245  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-245

Published: 6 June 2014



We need to improve our understanding of the complex interactions between family carers’ emotional relationships with care-recipients and carers use of support services. This study assessed carer’s expectations and perceptions of adult day respite services and their commitment to using services.


A mixed-method case study approach was used with psychological contract providing a conceptual framework. Data collection was situated within an organisational case study, and the total population of carers from the organisation’s day respite service were approached. Fifty respondents provided quantitative and qualitative data through an interview survey. The conceptual framework was expanded to include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs during analysis.


Carers prioritised benefits for and experiences of care-recipients when making day respite decisions. Respondents had high levels of trust in the service and perceived that the major benefits for care-recipients were around social interaction and meaningful activity with resultant improved well-being. Carers wanted day respite experiences to include all levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the provision of physiological care and safety through to the higher levels of belongingness, love and esteem.


The study suggests carers need to trust that care-recipients will have quality experiences at day respite. This study was intended as a preliminary stage for further research and while not generalizable it does highlight key considerations in carers’ use of day respite services.

Ageing; Carer; Day respite; Maslow’s hierarchy of need; Psychological contract