Nurse assistants’ experience of an intervention focused on a palliative care approach for older people in residential care

Ingela Beck, Agneta Törnquist, Anna-Karin Edberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background.  Nurse assistants working in residential care facilities need support to ensure that they provide high-quality care for the residents and support for relatives, from admission to bereavement.

Aim.  The aim was to describe the nurse assistants’ experience of how an intervention with a palliative care approach, had influenced them in their work in residential care for older people.

Participants.  Fourteen nurse assistants working in three different municipal residential care facilities.

Methods.  Data were collected by means of semi-structured individual interviews following an intervention consisting of study circles combined with workshops. The data were analysed using content analysis.

Result.  The nurse assistants felt that, through the intervention, they had gained insight into their understanding of the importance of quality of care. This included an increased awareness of, and respect for, residents’ and relatives’ needs, and an increased understanding of the importance of the outcome of encounters with residents and their relatives. After the intervention, they also felt there was increased openness and understanding between colleagues. However, the nurse assistants also expressed frustration over obstacles to implementing a palliative care approach, such as lack of resources and supportive leadership.

Conclusion.  The nurse assistants felt that the intervention was positive and encouraged them to provide more person-centred care within the framework of a palliative care approach. Although the intervention was intended to involve and support the management, it was not sufficient. Nurse assistants described lack of resources and supportive leadership. There is, therefore, a need to place greater emphasis on leadership and their support of nurse assistants so that they can provide high-quality care.

Implications for practice.  To support nurse assistants in the provision of care, clear leadership and opportunities to discuss and reflect on issues associated with care, including systematic improvement work in practice, appear to be essential to ensure high-quality care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of older people nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Nursing (30305)


  • intervention
  • nurse assistants
  • older people
  • qualitative study
  • residential care
  • support


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