Title. The palliative care link nurse role in nursing homes: barriers and facilitators.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore link nurses’ views and experiences regarding the development, barriers and facilitators to the implementation of the role in palliative care in the nursing home.
Background. The delivery of palliative care in nursing homes is widely advocated; one approach is to develop the link nurse role to cascade good practice and training to nurses and other care staff to enhance patient care.
Method. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted with a purposive sample of 14 link nurses from 10 nursing homes in Northern Ireland during 2006. Three focus groups, composed of all Registered Nurses currently acting as link nurses in their nursing homes participated, and the data were audio recorded, fully transcribed and content analysed.
Findings. The link nurse system shows potential to enhance palliative care within nursing homes. However, link nurses experienced a number of difficulties in implementing education programmes. Facilitators of the role included external support, monthly meetings, access to a resource file and peer support among link nurses themselves. Lack of management support, a transient workforce and lack of adequate preparation for link nurses were barriers to fulfilling this role.
Conclusion. Whilst palliative care link nurses can improve care for residents in nursing homes, consideration must be given to overcome the types of barriers identified in order to enable the link nurse system to function effectively.