Introduction: Nurses are in a prime position to manage to support families that have a family member living in a residential home for older people. Nurses' attitudes about meeting patients' family members vary. Studies describe that some nurses consider family members as a burden. But some nurses consider family members a resource and think it is important to establish good relationships with them.
Aim: The aim of this study was to describe how registered nurses (RNs) experienced to participate in and conduct the intervention Family Health Conversations (FamHCs) with families in residential homes for older people.
Methods: The intervention FamHC was accomplished at three residential homes for older people. FamHC is a family systems nursing (FSN) intervention developed to support families facing the ill health of someone in the family. One RN from each residential home conducted the conversations. The RNs wrote diary notes directly after each conversation. The RNs were also interviewed 1 month after they had each conducted four FamHCs. The diary notes and the interviews were analysed separately by qualitative content analysis, and the findings were then summarized in one theme and further discussed together.
Findings: The main findings were that the RNs experience the conversations as a valuable professional tool involving the whole family. The RNs grasped that silence can be a valuable tool and had learned to attentively listen to what the families were saying without interrupting, allowing them and the families to reflect upon what the family members said.
Conclusion: The findings show that the FamHC can be helpful for RNs in their work, helping them to perceive and understand the needs and desires of the families.
Keywords: Family nursing; family health conversation; family systems nursing; intervention; older people; qualitative content analysis; relatives; residential home; support.