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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 12;8(9):e73822. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073822. eCollection 2013.

Changes in the personal dignity of nursing home residents: a longitudinal qualitative interview study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Expertise Center for Palliative Care, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Most nursing home residents spend the remainder of their life, until death, within a nursing home. As preserving dignity is an important aim of the care given here, insight into the way residents experience their dignity throughout their entire admission period is valuable.

AIM:

To investigate if and how nursing home residents' personal dignity changes over the course of time, and what contributes to this.

DESIGN:

A longitudinal qualitative study.

METHODS:

Multiple in-depth interviews, with an interval of six months, were carried out with 22 purposively sampled nursing home residents of the general medical wards of four nursing homes in The Netherlands. Transcripts were analyzed following the principles of thematic analysis.

RESULTS:

From admission onwards, some residents experienced an improved sense of dignity, while others experienced a downward trend, a fluctuating one or no change at all. Two mechanisms were especially important for a nursing home resident to maintain or regain personal dignity: the feeling that one is in control of his life and the feeling that one is regarded as a worthwhile person. The acquirement of both feelings could be supported by 1) finding a way to cope with one's situation; 2) getting acquainted with the new living structures in the nursing home and therefore feeling more at ease; 3) physical improvement (with or without an electric wheelchair); 4) being socially involved with nursing home staff, other residents and relatives; and 5) being amongst disabled others and therefore less prone to exposures of disrespect from the outer world.

CONCLUSION:

Although the direction in which a resident's personal dignity develops is also dependent on one's character and coping capacities, nursing home staff can contribute to dignity by creating optimal conditions to help a nursing home resident recover feelings of control and of being regarded as a worthwhile person.

PMID:
24069235
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3771937
Free PMC Article
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