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Abstract

In a qualitative study conducted in Ontario, Canada, family members and friends of ill people defined a normal territory in which care from health professionals could not be counted on to be timely, effective or empathic. Under these conditions relatives and friends took on considerable responsibility, both for providing care and for securing care from health professionals. Yet considerable variation was apparent in this study in the sense respondents had of their own capacities to provide and secure care. Findings from this study suggest that service tiers exist in the institutional care system, linked to the time, knowledge and resources of informal carers.

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