Heather Mcdonald

Heather Mcdonald

University of New Brownswick, Canada

Title: Respite for Parents Caring for Children Requiring Complex Home Care


Dr. MacDonald completed a Master’s degree in Nursing at the University of Toronto, Canada and a PhD at the University of Manchester in the UK. Currently she is a Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of New Brunswick (Canada). Dr. MacDonald’s doctoral work examined respite for parents who were caring for children who required complex care. This paper comes from that work. Dr. MacDonald has three children of her own.


Advances in nursing and medical care augmented by developments in pharmaceutical and health technologies have led to an increasing number of children who require complex care at home. Parents are their carer givers. In this ethnographic study there were: 47 Participants 19 Mothers 4 Fathers 7 Grandparents 13 Nurses 4 Social Workers Data Collection consisted of in-depth interviews; participant observation; anddocument review. There were five emergent themes: Parents Caring; Caring and the Impact on Parental Identity; The Nature of Respite; and Fair Play.In this paper the key categories within the theme Fair Play will be discussed. These categories include:  care obligations feelings of entitlement respite information needs ongoing support needs negotiating the system and equity