In many countries, specialist palliative day care for patients with life-limiting conditions is provided by specific teams of professionals from a range of relevant disciplines. During 2006 to 2007, the day care services at a hospice in the U.K. were redesigned so that specialist palliative care sessions replaced the existing long-established, traditional day care model. The purpose of this study was to enhance the understanding of those aspects of the service that the users valued most (the "X-factor"). Qualitative data were collected via semistructured interviews with 29 patients and eight carers. These data were subjected to a framework analysis. The users of the service used poignant and powerful words to describe the special qualities that they valued, some phrasing it as the X-factor. The data are presented under three themes: the quality of the staff; the sense of community; and relationships. Of these, the relationships between and within the staff and patient groups held the greatest significance for the patients. Service providers need to recognize that opportunities for the formation of relationships between the patients, staff, and carers are of utmost importance when designing palliative day care services.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.