Study of the Informal Caregivers’ Living Conditions in Greek Hospital Setting and their Impacts

Introduction: It was the general population’s perception, created by the hospital understaffing in nurses, that inpatients should be accompanied and treated by a family member in order to meet their needs. As a result caregivers were expected to give informal care to their patients. Aim: The aim of the study was twofold. To examine informal caregiver’s living conditions in hospitals and assess the impact of informal caregiver’s extended stay in hospital setting on patients and themselves. Methods: A cross-sectional research was conducted. The sample consisted of a purposive sample of informal caregivers caring for patients in a pathology sector clinics at a general public hospital in Central Macedonia. The study was undertaken from June to July 2016. For the purpose of the study the SapountziKrepia et al. questionnaire was used. Frequency distribution, means and standard deviation were calculated for both categorical and numeric variables. Non parametric statistics chi-square, Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman’s Rho were used for inferential statistics. The p value was set to .05. Results: The majority of caregiver participants were female, patient’s relatives (74.8%) that stayed with the patient since admission (79%) while at the same time more than half of them (58.1%) stayed daily by the patient for between 17 and 24 hours. 75.2% of caregivers that had to stay by the patient’s bed the whole day stated that they slept on an armchair, 11% slept on the floor and 5% on the patient’s bed. 52.9% of caregivers covered their needs for food by buying food from the hospital canteen and 61% shared the same bathroom with the patients. Caregivers assessed that impact of caring was detrimental for their personal, social and professional life. Hospital acquired infections were found in 18.5% of patients who in their majority (92.3%) had an informal caregiver by their side for many hours (r=.360, p= .000) and were administered care by him (r=.322, p=.000). Conclusions: The results demonstrated the difficult conditions encountered by patient’s informal caregivers and the negative consequences their long stay in hospital may have on their lives. Moreover, a negative association between the caregiver’s extended hospital stay and frequency of tasks offered by caregivers on patient safety were assessed. It is therefore necessary on behalf of hospital management to take all measures to improve informal caregiver’s hospital stays and reduce the negative impact on patient’s care.