Background: Home is the preferred location for most people with an advanced disease and at the end of life. A variety of care professionals work in community settings to provide support to this population. Patients and their spouses, who also care for them (spouse-carers), are rarely accompanied by these sources of support at all times, and have to manage independently between their contact with care professionals.
Aim: To explore how patients and spouse-carers manage their involvement with care professionals in the community setting.
Method: Interpretive phenomenology informs the design of the research, whereby 16 interviews were conducted with the patients and spouse-carers. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using phenomenological techniques including template analysis.
Findings: Patients and spouse-carers were interdependent and both parties played a role in co-ordinating care and managing relationships with professional care providers. The patients and spouse-carers actively made choices about how to manage their situation, and develop and modify managing strategies based on their experiences.
Conclusions: When daily management is effective and care professionals acknowledge the dyadic nature of the patient and spouse-carer relationship, people have confidence in living with advanced disease.