"They stay with you": Nursing home staff's emotional experiences of being in a close relationship with a resident in long-term care who died
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionÅdland, A.K., Gripsrud, B.H., Lavik, M.H., Ramvi, E. (2021) "They stay with you": Nursing home staff's emotional experiences of being in a close relationship with a resident in long-term care who died. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 10.1177/08980101211017766
Aim: To explore and develop understanding of nursing home staff’s emotional experiences of being in a close relationship with a resident in long-term care who later died. Design: Ethnographic fieldwork. Methods: As part of fieldwork, narrative interviews were conducted with nursing home staff (n=6) in two nursing homes in Norway and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Findings: Through data analysis, we identified three superordinate themes: (1) wanting to be something good for the resident and their families, (2) striving to make sense of the resident’s death, and (3) struggling to balance being personal and professional. Implications for holistic nursing and conclusion: Nursing home staff experience tensions between ideals of distanced professionalism and the emotional experience of proximity, evidenced by personal commitment and mutual recognition in relationships with “special residents” in long-term care. To support holistic practice, awareness is needed of the emotional impact of relationships on health professionals. Suppressing feelings puts staff at risk of moral distress, compassion fatigue, and burnout, as well as higher turnover and absenteeism.Managers should facilitate discussions on professionals’ ideals of relationship- based practice, including processing of, and reflection on, emotional experiences in long-term care. Rituals to mark a resident’s death can provide further emotional containment.