• caring;
  • empirical research report;
  • hermeneutics;
  • interviews;
  • nursing;
  • nursing homes;
  • older people


Title. Encounters in Swedish nursing homes: a hermeneutic study of residents’ experiences

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to illuminate and interpret the meaning of residents’ experiences of encounters with nurses in nursing homes.

Background.  A large number of older people suffer from illness and become dependent on other people in their daily living. These people are often in need of care in nursing homes. It is assumed that encounters between nurses and residents are of importance in how residents experience care in nursing homes.

Method.  Twelve residents from three nursing homes in Sweden were interviewed in 2004–2005 about their experiences in encounters with nurses. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A hermeneutic method was used to describe and interpret the meaning of residents’ experiences.

Findings.  Three themes emerged: ‘being somebody’, ‘being nobody’ and ‘being in a community’. The encounters had both positive and negative influences on residents, expressed as being somebody and belonging somewhere or being nobody and not being seen as a person or simply being left out of things. Encounters between residents and nurses have a mutual dependency where residents certainly have some influence on the relationship. The nurses have both an influence on the relationship and a professional responsibility for the outcome of encounters with residents.

Conclusion.  The insights gained from the study can guide nurses in their encounters with residents in nursing homes so that they feel respected as unique human beings and part of a community.