Stories in photos:   
Male caregivers’ lived experience 
of filial caregiving 

©2021 by Sau Po Centre on Ageing.

Male caregivers’ / Research Insights

Research Insights

Research Finding
Policy Implications

Research Finding

Section 1:

How Son Caregivers Manage Their Caregiving Role

Gendered definition of caregiving

They are more likely to perceive “taking up livelihood responsibility of a family” as a whole instead of highlighting the caring responsibilities. Male caregivers might not be aware that they were taking caring responsibilities, or were also experiencing higher degrees of caregiver burden.

Gains and pains

Men caregivers tend to focus on gains and feel less sensitive in pains. They take their caregiving in their later adult life as personal achievement. In addition, male caregiver acted like a manager of a family team in caregiving, and he played a role of conceiving plan and making decisions in this teamwork.

 

Male caregivers performed less emotionally attached to caregiving practice or the one being cared than their counterparts. When facing difficulties and challenges, son caregivers focused more on coping strategies.

Stronger attachment to the family

Son caregivers took company and interaction, as a significant caregiving practice, and also as a part of their daily life. Through this caregiving practice, son caregivers become more attached to the family; and this stronger attachment is a compensation for their absence in family responsibilities when they were a breadwinner.

Section 2:

Factors Affect Son Caregivers to Seek Support

To expand the understanding of Andersen’s model of support services seeking, this study revealed that there was an interplay between predisposing factors, enabling factors and need factors.

  • Need factors affected by the intersectionality of predisposing factors: they don’t believe social service can provide sufficient support.

Son caregivers regard their caregiving engagement as a compensation for their absence in family responsibilities when they were a breadwinner. They would intend to practice a knowledge-based care plan and execution.

  • Enabling factors affected by the intersectionality of predisposing factors: Their understanding of caregiving role influence their motivations and/or set barriers of seeking help from formal support.

Male caregivers sought support from their family members, wife or brothers and sisters most of the time, rather than from formal service. Traditional Chinese men were internalized to perform as calm and rational, they did not tend to share their feelings, especially when facing personal and emotional difficulties.

POLICY IMPLICATIONS

Professional knowledge management and coping strategies

Normative expectation of caregiving overlooked caregiving as a practice consisting of broad range of tasks and responsibilities, therefore, the existing supportive interventions and social services often focus on reducing caregiver burden and distress. Based on the above analysis, relevant and updated information, professional knowledge management and coping strategies should also be emphasized in support service provision. Digital care navigation should be encouraged for information and referral, such as one-stop information and resources platforms.

Proactive on-site support services

More proactive and on-site support services should be facilitated and strengthened in different communities. As a matter of fact, for some subgroups of caregivers, they were unwilling to actively seek support even when they had demands. Service providers should take proactive measures to penetrate into the communities rather than waiting to be asked. For instance, service providers should take proactive measures to support caregivers’ needs.

Personalized caregiving support

More personalized caregiving support is needed. Profile study on non-typical caregivers, such as male caregivers, younger or older caregivers and sandwich caregivers. Caregiver as an identity should be recognized thus the caregiver-centered services and policies should be encouraged. This thorough census will lay a credible foundation for the development of a holistic caregiver-based policy and future service planning.