To focus on "being" in a world of doing: support to nurse assistants in applying a palliative care approach in residential care for older people

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    The aim of this thesis was to study nurse assistants’ experience of palliative care and to investigate how an intervention with a focus on a palliative care approach in residential care facilities influenced the nurse assistants and their work situation. The thesis is based on two qualitative and two quantitative studies, focusing on nurse assistants working at residential care facilities for older people. The qualitative studies were based on focus-group interviews before the intervention (I) and individual interviews after the intervention (IV). The quantitative studies (II, III) were based on a questionnaire, including several measurements, that was answered pre-, and post- intervention. The intervention consisted of study circles with nurse assistants, and workshops together with their leaders, focusing on improvement work. A total of 75 nurse assistants participated in the intervention and answered the questionnaire at baseline and at two follow-ups, in comparison with 110 nurse assistants who served as controls. The results show that the nurse assistants experienced that it was difficult to focus on “being”, i.e. on relationship aspects in their work, since the main discourse in residential care focused on “doing”, i.e. on task oriented aspects. Palliative care was described as something that was only applied during a short and defined phase, namely the very last days of the residents’ life. The results also show that nurse assistants experienced difficulties facing emotional and existential issues with regards to both the residents and their relatives (I). The results of study I were, in turn, used as a basis for the development of the intervention. The evaluation of the intervention showed that the nurse assistants, after the intervention, had increased their focus on the residents’ situation and to a greater extent stated that they focused on the residents’ life stories and on aspects that brought meaning to their lives (III). The nurse assistants also stated that they experienced less criticism from their superiors as well as from the residents after the intervention (II). However, the evaluation also showed that the nurse assistants had a more negative view of the leadership (II), were more critical to the medical and the nursing care (III), and that their job satisfaction had decreased (II) after the intervention. Interviews after the intervention showed that they, as a result of the intervention, had not only gained increased insight into their own significance in their encounter with residents and their relatives, but also an increased awareness of the needs of the residents and their relatives. The intervention also contributed to an increased openness in the workgroup. However, the nurse assistants also expressed frustration over barriers, primarily in the form of a lack of resources and limited leadership (IV), standing in the way of the implementation of changes. The results indicate that the nurse assistants, through discussions and reflections over praxis in their ordinary work group, developed an increased awareness about, and focus on “being”, i.e. on relationship aspects. However, it would seem that essential prerequisites, such as support from the leaders and sufficient resources for working in line with a palliative care approach, were not provided. When implementing a palliative care approach in residential care facilities, more focus on support to the leaders is needed in order to maintain sustainable changes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Nursing (30305)


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