Family perspectives on dying in long-term care settings

J Gerontol Nurs. 1999 Nov;25(11):19-25. doi: 10.3928/0098-9134-19991101-08.


Dying is a central experience in the life of a family. Yet there are few studies of dying in long-term care and the role of a family. The dynamic relationships among families, staff, and residents in long-term care facilities related to the process of dying is an area where research is needed. As part of a larger study of death and dying in long-term care settings, 11 family members who recently had experienced the loss of a relative in the long-term care setting were interviewed. The purpose of this study was to describe family perspectives on death and dying in long-term care facilities and to discuss ways staff may be helpful to families in coping with the loss of a family member. Analyzing death and dying from the family perspective offers health care providers an opportunity to expand the understanding of the phenomenon of death in long-term care facilities and to incorporate care activities that families view as helpful. Major themes emerged from this study, including the caring behaviors of staff, participating in the dying process, and providing spiritual support. The themes and practice implications are discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Empathy
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pastoral Care
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Social Support
  • Terminal Care / psychology*