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Keywords:

  • bedside;
  • communication;
  • family;
  • nurse;
  • patient;
  • quality of care

Aims and objectives.  To explore families’ perceptions of shift-to-shift bedside handover.

Background.  The potential role families can play in bedside handover is unknown. Understanding family members’ perceptions can provide a foundation for nurses to tailor their bedside handover to family members’ perceptions, encouraging their involvement and potentially improving patient care.

Design.  Qualitative study, using case study methodology.

Methods.  The study was conducted with eight family members in one rehabilitation ward in Queensland, Australia, in 2009. Data included observations of bedside handover, field notes and in-depth interviews. Thematic analysis of data was conducted to identify unique and common themes indicative of family perceptions.

Results.  Three major themes emerged. The first, understanding the situation, consisted of three subthemes: feeling informed, understanding the patient’s condition and understanding patient’s treatment. The second theme was interacting with nursing staff, with five subthemes, including sharing information, clarifying information, assisting in care, asking questions and interpreting for the patient. The final subtheme was finding value, which contained five subthemes: feeling at ease, feeling included, valuing individualisation, preparing for the future and maintaining patient privacy.

Conclusions.  Bedside handover provides an opportunity to involve family members in patient care and promote family-centred care core concepts. Family members value the chance to participate and can ultimately improve the accuracy of handover communication.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Bedside handover is beneficial for nurses, patients and family members and embodies patient and family-centred care. Managers should consider its implementation in hospitals, developing strategies such as standard operating protocols for a more family inclusive approach to communication. Nurses may require further training to best undertake bedside handover and involve family members in care. The study suggests expansion of research into this important area of family-centred care.