Community (district) nurses (CNs) are well positioned to provide follow-up home visits to bereaved families and carers of their recently deceased palliative clients. An Australian survey of CN's (n = 58, response rate 29%) described their experiences of bereavement support visits, perceptions of their role in bereavement care and their professional support needs. Although positive experiences were commonly reported, with 95% of participants considering bereavement follow-up visits as consistent with their role, 53% found the visits difficult for reasons such as the nurse or client not understanding the purpose, the CN's excessive personal identification with the client's situation, the emotional intensity of visits, and lack of confidence or skills despite prior training. The nature and quality of the CN's prior relationship with the bereaved family was an important determinant of the visits' success. Results highlight the value of bereavement support visits, while identifying professional development needs. Managing emotionally intense episodes should receive priority in preparing CN's for this challenging role.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.