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22  ‘It’s not our grief to have…?’ The lived experiences of professional grief that palliative care nurses experience whilst delivering end of life care in acute hospital settings
  1. Geraldine Finnan
  1. Edinburgh Napier University


Introduction The world is experiencing an ageing population with the numbers requiring palliative and end of life care (PEOLC) increasing and many of those people will receive care and die in acute and generalist settings. The personal and lived experiences of the nurses delivering PEOLC in busy acute environments therefore need to be reflected upon, understood, and acknowledged.

Nurses experience grief for their patients but do so in a very different manner to that experienced by the patient’s family. The nurse often finds them self in a conflicting role as they need to remain strong and offer support on one hand whilst managing their own emotions and acknowledge their loss on the other.

Aims This aim of this study was to understand the experiences of palliative care nurses delivering PEOLC in acute settings and how they make meaning of those experiences following the loss and death of their patients

Methods An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology was used to understand the lived experience of the participants to illuminate and reveal their meaning making.

Results Following analysis of the findings, four main or superordinate themes were revealed which demonstrated that nurses are sentient thinking beings whose lived experiences and feelings affect their thoughts and emotions.

Conclusions This in turn impacts not only on their personal life but also their professional identity and perceptions of good quality care. The caring processes they enact shapes and informs their understanding of the world and their experiences therein.

Impact The findings of this study point towards a need to understand and acknowledge that nurses can experience professional grief for their patients and it is necessary therefore to consider effective supportive mechanisms such as reflection and formal clinical supervision for generalist and palliative care nurses delivering PEOLC in acute settings.

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