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Improving family carers' experiences of support at the end of life by enhancing communication: an action research study

Dosser, Isabel; Kennedy, Catriona


Isabel Dosser

Catriona Kennedy


This paper builds on findings from phase one of a participatory action research study, which investigated support for family carers at the end of life in an acute hospital setting in Scotland, UK (Dosser and Kennedy, 2012). The research presented here is the second phase of the participatory action research study, in which nursing staff from an acute hospital ward are involved in ongoing analysis of data and ideas guided by action cycles and reflection.

Two key change initiatives are reported; improving nurses' communication skills and improving the environment for family carers of loved ones at the end of life within the acute hospital setting. To address these points, nurses were enrolled on a communications skills course, and a new room for family carers was integrated into the hospital.

Data were analysed from interviews and questionnaires with the nurses, and from insights gathered in a reflective diary taken by the researcher. The changes implemented improved the confidence of participants in communicating with carers as well as patients and colleagues.

The findings highlight practical strategies and communication issues that can potentially impact on the grief experience of family carers, such as having a safe space nearby to rest in private, away from the bedside.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Dec 19, 2014
Publication Date Dec 2, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 12, 2015
Print ISSN 1357-6321
Electronic ISSN 2052-286X
Publisher Mark Allen Healthcare
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 12
Pages 608-616
Keywords Family carers, Support, Bereavement, Communication, Action research, End of life
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