Evaluating a dignity care intervention for palliative care in the community setting: community nurses' perspectives

J Clin Nurs. 2017 Dec;26(23-24):4300-4312. doi: 10.1111/jocn.13757. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Aims and objectives: To evaluate a dignity care intervention provided by community nurses seeking to address dignity concerns for people with advanced and life-limiting conditions.

Background: Evidence would suggest that dying people fear a loss of dignity and a central focus of palliative care is to assist people to die with dignity. Whilst community nurses have a key role to play in the delivery of palliative care, specific interventions for dignity are lacking.

Design: A mixed methods study using online survey and focus group interviews and thematic analysis to examine data.

Methods: Twenty four community nurses implemented the dignity care intervention for people with advanced and life-limiting conditions were recruited from four pilot sites across Ireland. Four focus group interviews and on line survey were conducted between March-June 2015.

Results: The community nurses found the dignity care intervention useful. It helped the nurses to provide holistic end-of-life care and assisted in the overall assessment of palliative care patients, identifying areas that might not otherwise have been noted. Whilst it was a useful tool for communication, they noted that it stimulated some emotionally sensitive conversations for which they felt unprepared.

Conclusions: Implementing the dignity care intervention in practice was challenging. However, the dignity care intervention facilitated holistic assessment and identified patient dignity-related concerns that may not have been otherwise identified. Further support is required to overcome barriers and enable dignity-conserving care.

Relevance to clinical practice: Ensuring dignity is a key aspect of palliative and end-of-life care; however, community nurses may not feel equipped to address this aspect of care. Implementing a dignity care intervention can assist in identifying patient dignity-related concerns and provision of holistic care. Community nurses need more training to assist in difficult conversations relating to dignity and end-of-life care.

Keywords: community nursing; dignity; evaluation; mixed methods; palliative care.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Community Health Nursing / methods*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Personhood*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care / psychology*
  • Young Adult