BACKGROUND: Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common childhood physical disability in developed countries. Parents of children with CP experience difficulties which can result in reduced wellbeing. Health professionals supporting children with CP have been encouraged to focus on parental wellbeing as this forms part of the child's essential environment. There is a lack of evidence about interventions which holistically support the whole family by providing therapeutic input for the child and support for parents. This study aimed to explore parents' experiences of play-based groups for children with CP and their parents, with a focus on the groups' impact on parents' wellbeing. METHODS: Parents of children with CP who had attended play-based groups in the year prior were recruited for this qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Participants' demographic characteristics were collected as contextual information. Data was analysed using an inductive thematic approach. RESULTS: Ten mothers were interviewed. Overall, mothers had positive experiences of the groups and perceived them as an important influence on their wellbeing. Four themes described mothers' experiences of the groups and the subsequent impact on their wellbeing: (1) Practical Support, (2) Connecting with Others, (3) Transitioning Journeys, and (4) Different Motivators, Different Experiences. Numerous factors influenced mothers' experiences of attending the groups and the subsequent impact on their wellbeing. This included mothers' individual experiences of having a child with CP. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions combining practical and social support for the whole family can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of mothers of children with CP. Care should be taken to provide individualised support for each family. There is no 'one size fits all' approach and a package of care can provide multiple services which meet the varying needs of mothers and their children with CP.
Child Care Health Dev
cerebral palsy, child disability, groups, parents, social support, wellbeing