Despite the growing awareness of the significance of helping a relative to relocate to a care home as a key phase in the care-giving career, relatively few British studies have explored this experience in depth. Informed by a constructivist perspective, this study sought a better understanding of nursing home placements from the viewpoint of relatives. Data were collected in 37 semi-structured interviews involving 48 people who had assisted a close relative to move into a nursing home. Analysis revealed three perceived phases to the transition: ‘making the best of it’, ‘making the move’ and ‘making it better’. The relatives' experiences through these phases had five perceived elements, all of which were continua, from absent to very strong, reflecting the extent to which they were felt. They were: operating ‘under pressure’ or not; ‘in the know’ or ‘working in the dark’; ‘working together’ or ‘working alone’; ‘in control of events’ or not, and ‘supported’ or ‘unsupported’ both practically and emotionally. This paper reports findings about the first phase of the transition, ‘making the best of it’, and documents the experiences of decision-making about nursing home placements. It is argued that health and social care practitioners have enormous potential to influence whether or not helping a relative to move into a nursing home is perceived as a positive choice.
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