Nurses' experiences and expectations of family and carers of older patients in the emergency department

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Emergency Nursing, 2014, 22 (1), pp. 31 - 36
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Background: Older people are often accompanied by family/carers to the emergency department (ED). Few studies investigate nurses' experiences of interacting with these family/carers. Aim: This study was an exploration of the experiences and expectations that ED nurses have of family and carers accompanying the older adult patient. Method: Focus group interviews (four, n= 27) were conducted and interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and then thematically analysed. Results: Three themes emerged relating to the way nurses judged family/carers of the older person, with the main theme the importance of time. Family/carers were evaluated as supportive and helpful when they saved nurses time and demanding and obstructive when they cost nurses time. A second theme was the family/carer as a knowledge resource. Nurses evaluated family/carers according to whether they could provide timely and useful information on the older patient. The third theme centred on nurses' evaluations of family/carers getting in the way of assessing or treating the patient, by their physical presence and demands and by limiting open communication with the patient. Conclusion: Emergency nurses have clear expectations of older patients' families and/or carers. Future research must determine how nursing roles can sustain positive interactions with older patients' families and/or carers in the ED. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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