A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming for not only the patients but also their carer. Most carers need to learn new skills, negotiate hospital mazes and learn medical language. A supportive one day carer education workshop has been offered by a charitable organisation five to six times each year since 2006 and offers support and education for unpaid carers of those with cancer. The workshop provides a number of topics including self-care, understanding the care recipient, end stage care and dealing with practical matters as an unpaid care provider. Participants were invited to comment on the workshop across a number of key areas using an evaluative questionnaire at the close of each workshop.
All participants have been asked to complete a workshop evaluation questionnaire post workshop since 2006 and all were invited to provide open-ended comments regarding the workshop content and group learning environment. Open ended comments were analysed thematically using template analysis and data were managed using QSR NVivo 10.
Overall, more than 458 carers provided open ended responses in the questionnaire. The majority were female (79%) and the mean age was 57 years. Most participants felt more knowledgeable and confident after the workshop. Of particular significance was the benefit of group sharing with other carers which reassured participants and reduced a sense of isolation. Participants felt motivated by others and noted raised levels of confidence and a stronger sense of ‘being able to cope’. Also important was recognising one’s limitations within the caregiver role. There were also some lessons to be learned and suggestions for future improvements along with other topics for future workshops.
Overall, most participants felt that they had benefitted from the educational workshop in a non-threatening and open manner. The receptivity of facilitators and other participants enabled a positive learning environment for all attendees.