Spiritual caring: end of life in a nursing home

J Gerontol Nurs. 2005 Sep;31(9):27-35. doi: 10.3928/0098-9134-20050901-07.


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore spiritual care for dying nursing home residents from the perspectives of registered nurses, practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, advanced practice nurses, and physicians. Five major themes emerged: honoring the person's dignity, intimate knowing in the nursing home environment, wishing we could do more, personal knowing of self as caregiver, and struggling with end-of-life treatment decisions. Spiritual caring was described within the context of deep personal relationships, holistic care, and support for residents. Spiritual care responses and similarities and differences in the experiences of participants are presented. Education and research about how to assist residents and families as they struggle with difficult end-of-life decisions, adequate time and staff to provide the kind of care they "wished they could," and development of models that honor the close connection and attachment of staff to residents could enhance end-of-life care in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Advance Directives
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Death
  • Decision Making
  • Empathy*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing / organization & administration
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Staff / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Assistants / psychology
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Pastoral Care / organization & administration*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Spirituality*
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration*