Appreciating the everyday experiences of hospice staff can help to illuminate their emotional engagements and needs for emotional support. Existing research on emotional work in healthcare and hospice contexts tends to focus on clinical staff, such as doctors and nurses. This study adopted an ethnographic approach to uncover the day-to-day working lives of both clinical and non-clinical hospice staff. In doing so, the findings appreciate the subtle, sensory and intimate practices of hospice staff.
The study involved 6 months of observations and 18 in-depth interviews in a hospice situated in the North of England. Since then, consultation work has also been carried out to consult with staff on the findings and develop recommendations for the emotional support of hospice staff in various roles.
This paper will draw on quotes and fieldnotes to illuminate the everyday work of hospice staff. The findings appreciate the small practices, such as silence, touch and the preparation of food, to highlight how such acts are less acknowledged, yet significant, forms of care in the hospice context. In appreciating such practices as forms of care, we are also able to acknowledge the non-clinical staff that provide care in the hospice context. The paper will also draw on consultation work completed during 2023, to bring the voices of hospice staff to the forefront. The consultation work has demonstrated the need to acknowledge and support non-clinical staff in their engagements and emotional interactions with patients and families.
Overall, this research and consultation work with hospice staff shows a continued need for emotional support and the acknowledgement of the significance of emotional work – in the roles of all hospice staff.
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