The experience of bereavement for people with intellectual disabilities

Handley, Emily

Clinical psychology
July 2008

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© 2008 Emily Handley. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Previous research investigating the bereavement experiences of people with Intellectual Disabilities found that carers do not always prepare people for deaths or include them in mourning rituals. It has also been found that some carers lack confidence in providing bereavement support to people with Intellectual Disabilities. This study explored the personal experiences of family caregivers and residential care staff in supporting adults with Intellectual Disabilities through the process of bereavement.A semi-structured interview was used to interview eleven carers on their experience of supporting adults with Intellectual Disabilities through the process of bereavement. The transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).A total of five super-ordinate themes were identified: (i) Factors making the experience difficult for carers (ii) Factors that helped carers (iii) Carers' perspectives on the responses of people with Intellectual Disabilities (iv) Approaches to supporting people with Intellectual Disabilities (v) Carers' perspectives on support.The identified themes are discussed in relation to existing literature on bereavement and Intellectual Disability. Clinical implications of the findings are outlined and methodological limitations and areas for future research are discussed.

Department of Clinical Psychology, Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
Hutchinson, Nick
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