Perceptions of palliative nursing
This thesis describes a three-year study which explored the lived experiences of nurses delivering palliative care, and dying patients receiving palliative care. The aim of the study was to examine the perceptions of patients and nurses regarding palliative care, and in particular, how they described a good palliative care nurse. The study generated interesting and significant findings. The lived experience of dying patients was characterised by maintaining their independence, and remaining in control, even in the latter stages of their illness, as well as wanting to feel safe and secure and being supported by their family and the nurses who were looking after them. Patients wanted palliative nurses to be there for them, by spending time with them, provide comfort, by meeting their needs, and for nurses to listen to their fears. The lived experience of palliative nurses was characterised by effective and ineffective interpersonal communication, the building of therapeutic relationships with dying patients, attempting to control pain and distressing symptoms, endeavouring to work as an effective multi-disciplinary team with their colleagues, and developing knowledge and experience in palliative care. The two most important characteristics of a good palliative nurse, as far as both patients, and nurses, were concerned, was to be interpersonally skilled, in particular the ability to be 'willing to listen', as well as, the need for the nurse to possess personal, humane qualities such as kindness, warmth, compassion and genuineness. Nurses, in particular, perceived that a good nurse should have knowledge, experience and keep up to date via professional development, in addition to, being skilled in controlling pain and distressing symptoms.