Caring and Coping: The Family Perspective on Living with Limb Loss

This study, carried out in partnership with Blesma and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, aims to understand how veterans and families experience and manage living with limb loss.

The focus of the research is on the everyday lived experience of veterans and their family unit, with the aim of providing insight and understanding into how the family manage and adapt to living with limb loss, which is absent from current literature and research. This research will provide a qualitative analysis of the experiences and support needs of families living with limb loss, and will inform the future care of and service provision to such families.

The research objectives are to:

  • provide understanding about how different members of the family experience the impact of limb loss
  • enquire into how veterans and families overcome difficulties experienced in living with limb loss
  • articulate recommendations based on the findings of the study.

The research has been carried out over two years in three phases. Phase 1 used unstructured interviews to gather information about what is of importance to families living with limb loss. Families across the UK participated and Members, their partners, and wider family spoke candidly about the realities of living with limb loss; families described what it is like for Members to transition back into their family home following amputation, the challenges of everyday living with an amputation and how families cope with caring responsibilities at home. Participants also gave their perspectives on prosthetics care and health and social care services. 

For phase 2, emergent findings from the interviews were used to develop questionnaires, to find out if information gathered in the interviews is applicable to the wider Blesma Membership. Two questionnaires were developed, one for Members and one for their main carers. 

During phase 3, telephone interviews were carried out with participants who took part in phases 1 and 2. Focused questions were asked, based on the emergent findings, to further establish patterns in the data and identify ways in which the experiences of families relate to those of others.

The core outcome of this research will be a detailed analysis and understanding of the needs of veterans living with limb loss and the families supporting them. This will inform future policy and practice in meeting these needs, and the dissemination of findings will influence how health and social care services, both voluntary and statutory, are delivered. The final report is currently being written and will be launched this year.

For more information about this research, please contact Dr Hilary Engward: hilary.engward@anglia.ac.uk