Registered nurses’ responses to resident death in residential aged care facilities
Walley, Cecily Elizabeth
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Registered Nurses (RNs), working in residential aged care facilities, care for residents who may have reached the palliative stage of their lives and who have complex health issues. In addition, to attending to their extensive duties in the wards, the RNs also care for dying residents, and at the end of the residents’ lives, endeavour to ensure that they experience a ‘good death.’ The aim of this study was to explore the responses of RNs when residents died. This qualitative descriptive study included interviews with 10 RNs who had worked in aged care facilities for at least two years. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. The research began with an assumption that frequent resident deaths affected the RNs caring for the residents in aged care facilities. The purpose of the study was to raise awareness of the RNs’ role when residents died and to establish how the RNs responded to the deaths of the residents in their care. The research findings in this thesis reports four main themes: the different cultural perspectives on dying, RNs’ grief, experiencing a sudden death, and the level of support available for RNs when the residents died. The research findings supported the assumption that RNs were affected by residents’ deaths. The study’s findings recommend that management teams in care facilities have clear processes of support for their nursing staff when there are deaths in their facilities. The significance of this study is that it provides awareness of how very stressful managing frequent deaths was for the RNs concerned. Findings indicate that stress was increased when there was a close relationship between the RN and the resident. It is recommended that future research be conducted in this subject area.