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J Palliat Care. 2012 Summer;28(2):97-104.

Negotiating relational practice patterns in palliative home care.

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Faculty of Health Sciences, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


Providing palliative care in the home presents a variety of challenges for nurses and other care providers. As part of a focused ethnographic study examining client/caregiver/care-provider relationships within the socio-cultural context of home-based palliative care, this paper describes the provision of palliative care to Canadian seniors with advanced cancer from the perspective of nurses. Data were collected through in-depth interviews (n=19) with three palliative care nurses and participant observations in four households over a six-to-eight-month period. Home-based palliative care nursing was depicted in this study as a dialectical experience, revealing three relational practice patterns: making time-forfeiting time, connecting-withdrawing, and enabling-disabling. Nurses attempted to negotiate the tensions between these opposing approaches to palliative care. Study findings suggest that the sociocultural context of palliative care is not conducive to high-quality palliative care and provide several insights related to future directions for practice, policy, and research.

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