Objective This study investigated the preferences of patients, family and staff for single or shared rooms in a UK hospice.
Method Semistructured interviews were conducted with patients, informal carers and staff at a hospice, focusing on room type preference.
Results 14 current and former hospice inpatients, 15 patients attending the hospice day centre, 23 carers of current and former inpatients and 10 hospice staff were interviewed. Patients most often stated a preference for a shared room, especially if they had experience of being in this room type at the hospice. The main reason for this preference was the company of others. Patients preferring single rooms cited the benefits of increased privacy, reduced noise and private facilities. Other patients said their room preference would depend on how ill they were. Carers valued the social contact and increased staff presence in shared rooms, but felt that single rooms were easier for visitors and more appropriate when patients reached the end of life. Staff found it easier to observe patients in a shared room, and to maintain privacy and confidentiality in a single room.
Conclusions The study concludes that single and shared rooms should be available in a hospice. Innovative planning can enable the social benefits of shared rooms to be maintained without compromising patients’ privacy and dignity.