Community nurses, spirituality and bereavement care
Keywords:Bereaved older people, bereavement, community nurses, education, spirituality
The study aimed to explore the perceptions of community nurses (health visitors and district nurses) in delivering a bereavement service to older people. It also aimed to gain an understanding of how bereaved older clients perceived bereavement visiting by community nurses. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were carried out with ten bereaved older people and twenty community nurses. Analysis of the interviews identified key concepts. A quantitative survey was carried out by questionnaire to two hundred and fourteen community nurses and achieved a return rate of one hundred and forty-three (66.8%). Community nurses interviewed stressed the importance of continuity of care, using intuition, and the importance of a client led service within the nurse/client relationship. They also identified, as helpful, having had a personal experience of grief. Bereaved older people interviewed identified key concepts of continuity, friendship and rapport within the client/nurse relationship. They had mixed perceptions regarding their own abilities to cope with grief as well as the impact of visits received from community nurses. Some bereaved older people perceived community nurses as skilled assessors of their grief. Community nurses surveyed by postal questionnaire demonstrated variations both in practice and in the administration of practice related to bereavement care. Friendship and rapport with the client group was found to be important as was spirituality, community nurse educational preparation and the role of voluntary organisations. Professional dichotomies in bereavement care were found to be present.
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