While the direct effects of COVID-19 caused widespread global suffering and death, the indirect impacts—via public health preventative measures and a reduction in health and social care ser-vices—were also devastating for many. More recently, it has also become increasingly apparent that such measures have had disproportionate effects, exacerbating existing health inequalities. For caregivers of individuals with chronic illness, the effects have been marked and particularly so for informal caregivers of individuals with complex neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s. Nine informal caregivers (all partners: three men and six women) of individuals with Parkinson’s in England took part in individual semi-structured interviews on two occasions (December 2021/January 2022 and May 2022). The interviews focused on their experiences of supporting their partner, their own challenges, and how these evolved and changed post-lockdown. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to inform the methodology and analysis. Four themes were identified: (i) lockdown-induced revolution and evolution of the relationship dynamic with partner; (ii) fighting to be seen, heard, and understood in healthcare encounters; (iii) making sense of, and adapting to, risk in a time of COVID-19; and (iv) managing isolation and need for support during and after lockdown. The negative effects from both the lockdowns and the depletion of usual health and support services were apparent for all participants. Existing vulnerabilities from being a carer of an individual with complex needs were also exacerbated. As caregivers worked hard to mitigate these effects for their partners as much as possible, the long-term impact of such intense psycho-logical and practical effort was often considerable. Ultimately, a simple restoration of pre-lockdown support levels may be insufficient to facilitate a successful return to optimal levels of support and wellbeing.
- interpretative phenomenological analysis