Aim: This study aimed to explore the experiences of patients with severe heart failure and identify their needs for palliative care.
Method: A qualitative design was chosen. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection and patients were interviewed in their homes. The sample consisted of 20 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of heart failure. Patients were between 60 and 83 years.
Results: Patients reported difficulties in walking, extreme fatigue and problems managing daily activities. Having to rely on family, friends and neighbours was common, causing feelings of being a burden, loneliness and isolation. Patients talked about dying as well as their fears and frustrations in living with heart failure. Barriers to accessing information and social services were identified. None of these patients had been referred to specialist palliative care services.
Conclusions: Patients' experiences were similar to those of patients living with advanced cancer and yet they received little support. Comprehensive routine assessment of the palliative care needs of patients living with severe heart failure is recommended.