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Compassion in healthcare - lessons from a qualitative study of the end of life care of people with dementia

Objectives: A lack of compassion in UK healthcare settings has received much recent attention. This study explores the experiences of people with dementia in the last year of life and time surrounding death and how the presence and lack of compassion, kindness and humanity influenced the experience of care.

Design: Qualitative in-depth interviews with bereaved informal carers of people with dementia.

Setting: United Kingdom.

Participants: Forty bereaved carers – 31 women and nine men – with an age range of 18–86 years and from wide socioeconomic backgrounds participated.

Main outcome measures: Experiences of carers of care for person with dementia during last year of life.

Results: The interviews highlighted differences and challenges in care settings in providing compassionate, humanistic care and the impact of the care experienced by the person with dementia during the last year of life on informal carers during the bereavement period and beyond. Excellent examples of compassionate care were experienced alongside very poor and inhumane practices.

Conclusion: The concepts of compassion, kindness and humanity in dementia care are discussed within the paper. The ability to deliver care that is compassionate, kind and humanistic exists along a continuum across care settings – examples of excellent care sit alongside examples of very poor care and the reasons for this are explored together with discussion as to how health and social care staff can be trained and supported to deliver compassionate care.

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Additional Titles
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
ISBN/ISSN
0141-0768
Resource Database
Web of science - exported 12/7/2016
Publication Year
2013
Issue Number
12
Volume Number
106
Start Page
492-497