An Exploration of the Self-Care Practices of Foster Carers in Australia

Mia Gowan, Nicole Peel, Emma Elcombe, Stacy Blythe


Practising self-care is vital for foster carers to cope with the stresses of the caring role, provide the best care possible and continue in their task. This current study contributes to emerging research on the self-care practices of foster carers in Australia and worldwide. It used an exploratory design, surveying 148 foster carers about their self-care and conducting individual, semi-structured interviews enabling nine of them to elaborate on their self-care experiences.

he results indicate that while the participants sometimes engage in self-care and value it as a way of maintaining their wellbeing and increasing their caregiving capacity, they face several barriers to doing this. These include the multiple responsibilities of the foster carer role, children’s commitments, employment and finances.

Facilitators of self-care include social and family support, contact with other carers and carer respite. Foster care agencies and the out-of-home care system should aim to meet the self-care needs of carers by providing increased support, resources and education.