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Perspectives of family-centred care at the end of life during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative descriptive study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-16, 04:38 authored by Melissa BloomerMelissa Bloomer, Eva YuenEva Yuen, R Williams, Stephane BouchouchaStephane Bouchoucha, P Poon, F Runacres, C Mooney, Alison HutchinsonAlison Hutchinson
Aim: To explore nurses' and family members' perspectives of family care at the end of life, during restricted visitation associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Background: To minimise the transmission of COVID-19, stringent infection prevention and control measures resulted in restricted hospital access for non-essential workers and visitors, creating challenges for the provision of family-centred care at the end of life. Design: Qualitative descriptive approach based on naturalistic inquiry. Methods: At a large public hospital in Melbourne, Australia, individual semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 15 registered nurses who cared for patients who died during restricted visitation associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and 21 bereaved family members. COREQ guidelines informed analysis and reporting. Results: Five themes developed from the data: (i) impact of visitor restrictions, which describes uncertain, ambiguous and arbitrary rules, onerous and inconsistent requirements; (ii) nurse-family communication; (iii) family-centred care and interrupted connections; (iv) well-being and negative emotions; and (v) suggestions for a better way, such as moving away from the black and whiteness of the rules, prioritising communication, compassion and advocacy. Conclusions: Negative consequences for communication and the patient-family connection at the end of life were felt deeply. The evolving COVID-19 rules that were frequently revised and applied at short notice, and the subsequent consequences for clinical practices and care were felt deeply. Relevance to Clinical Practice: Technology-facilitated communication, innovation and increased resources must be prioritised to overcome the challenges described in this study. A family-centred approach to care and emphasising the patient-family connection at the end of life is fundamental to minimising trauma and distress associated with future public health emergencies. Patient or Public Contribution: Bereaved family members contributed their first-hand experience. Members of the health service's patient experience team ensured the research was conducted in accordance with health service guidelines for patient and public contribution.



Journal of Clinical Nursing