Nurses' experiences of compassionate care in the palliative pathway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Clinical Nursing (JCN). 2020, 29 (23 -24), 4818-4826 . 10.1111/jocn.15528
Aims and objectives The aim was to explore how nurses experience compassionate care for patients with cancer and family caregivers in different phases of the palliative pathway. Background Compassion is fundamental to palliative care and viewed as a cornerstone of high‐quality care provision. Healthcare authorities emphasize that patients should have the opportunity to stay at home for as long as possible. There are, however, care deficiencies in the palliative pathway. Design This study employed a qualitative design using focus groups and a hermeneutic approach. Methods Four focus groups with three to seven female nurses in each group were conducted in Mid‐Norway in 2018. Nurses’ ages ranged from 28–60 years (mean age = 45 years), and they were recruited through purposive sampling (N = 21). Compassionate care was chosen as the theoretical framework. Reporting followed the COREQ guidelines. Results Three themes expressing compassionate care related to different phases of the pathway were identified: (a) information and dialogue, (b) creating a space for dying and (c) family caregivers’ acceptance of death. Conclusions This study showed that it was crucial to create a space for dying, characterized by trust, collaboration, good relationships, empathy, attention, silence, caution, slowness, symptom relief and the absence of noise and conflict. Relevance to clinical practice The quality of compassion possessed by individual practitioners, as well as the overall design of the healthcare system, must be considered when creating compassionate care for patients and their family caregivers. Nursing educators and health authorities should pay attention to the development of compassion in education and practice. Further research should highlight patients’ and family caregivers’ experiences of compassionate care and determine how healthcare systems can support compassionate care.