Connecting those that care: Designing for transitioning, talking, belonging and escaping

Care provision in many nations increasingly relies on the work of informal, or non-professional, carers. Often these carers experience substantial disruptions and reductions to their own sociality, weakened social support networks and, ultimately, a heightened risk of social isolation. We describe a qualitative study, comprised of interviews, design workshops and probes, that investigated the social and community support practices of carers. Our findings highlight issues related to becoming and recognising being a carer, and feelings of being ignored by, and isolated from, others. We also note the benefits that sharing between carers can bring, and routes to coping and relaxing from the burdens of care. We conclude with design considerations for facilitating new forms of digitally mediated support that connect those that care, emphasising design qualities related to transitioning, talking, belonging and escaping.