Objectives: This study sought to describe families' experiences of providing physical care to their critically ill relatives with bed-side nurses' support.
Methods: A qualitative research design was used and telephone interviews were conducted with 10 family members. The interviews were analysed using content analysis where data were grouped around central, recurrent ideas. A purposeful sample of family members who had performed care for their sick relative were drawn from a critical care unit in a large tertiary hospital in Australia.
Findings: The data revealed three main themes in relation to the family members' perceptions of providing some fundamental care to their sick relative. The three themes included: (1) 'Enacting Care'; (2) 'Connecting with Sick Relatives' and (3) 'Partnering with Nurses'.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that family members of critically ill patients enjoyed participating in their relatives' care and critical care nurses supported them in individualizing the care. They felt useful and it improved communication and facilitated close physical and emotional contact with their relative. This partnership approach successfully incorporated family members into the daily care for their sick relative and connects patients, families and nurses in critical care within this Family Centred Care model of care.
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