Self-Help Groups within Nursing Homes: The Experiences of Family Caregivers in Northeastern Italy

Ciro De Vincenzo, Ilenia Marian, Silvia Piol, Shoshi Keisari, Ines Testoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older adults and their family caregivers experience nursing home placement as a particularly critical time of life. The present study explored the experiences of family caregivers of nursing home residents taking part in a self-help group for caregivers. The sample was composed of six caregivers of older adults residing in a nursing home in the northeast of Italy. The respondents, aged 57 to 71, were part of a self-help group set up by the facility between 2017 and 2019. In this qualitative methodological design, we applied the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Two main themes emerged from the interviews: (a) challenges in constructing experience as caregivers; and (b) shared experiences as stabilizing tools. The findings highlight the importance of self-help groups in fostering the well-being of caregivers of older adults living in nursing homes. The self-help group enabled caregivers to deal with nursing home placement and the sense of guilt deriving from it; understand and accept the disabilities affecting their loved one; comprehend the experience of ambiguous loss; and learn to listen to their own needs, thus avoiding physical and emotional exhaustion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number485
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • COVID-19
  • ambiguous loss
  • family caregiving
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • nursing home placement
  • older adults
  • self-help groups
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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