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Nursing home residents’ views on dying and death: nursing home employee’s perspective


  • Lise-Lotte Dwyer RN, PhD,

  • Görel Hansebo RNT, PhD,

  • Birgitta Andershed RNT, PhD,

  • Britt-Marie Ternestedt RNT, PhD

Dr Lise-Lotte Dwyer
Departments of Health Care Sciences and Palliative Care Research
Ersta Sköndal University College
Box 111 89
Folkungagatan 121
100 61 Stockholm
Telephone: 0046-(0)766365025


dwyer l.-l., hansebo g., andershed b. & ternestedt b.-m. (2010) Nursing home residents’ views on dying and death: nursing home employee’s perspective. International Journal of Older People Nursing6, 251–260
doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2010.00237.x

Aim.  To reveal nursing home employees’ views on dying and death among older people they cared for.

Background.  Palliative care stakeholders recently included more groups in their definition of palliative care; older people constitute one such group. Consequently, palliative care systems, which will serve a large, aging cohort, will require new skills. The first stage in skills acquisition is to gather current views on dying and death.

Design.  Qualitative descriptive study that uses focus group discussions for data collection; 20 employees in 4 Swedish nursing homes participated.

Method.  Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Results.  The following categories were conceptualised: alleviating suffering and pain; finding meaning in everyday life; revealing thoughts and attitudes about death; taking care of the dead person’s body; and coping with the gap between personal ideals and reality.

Conclusions.  A deeper understanding of the palliative care philosophy is needed to further develop and tailor care for the dying persons in nursing homes.

Relevance to clinical practice.  To get public support for palliative care, the silence surrounding dying and death must be broken. Employees must receive education to prepare for all aspects of their work, and management must account for employees’ situation when planning the care.