Activity: Talk or presentation › Oral presentation
BackgroundIn the coming decades the number of older people increases and correspondingly the number of people with chronic conditions. Chronic conditions can have a significant impact on the quality of life of elderly and their family caregivers. They face a lifelong challenge with the illnesses, treatments, and required life style changes which are summarized as self-care. Research has shown that support of family caregivers appears to be essential in optimizing the self-care ability of the elderly with chronic diseases.IntroductionThe elderly who experience chronic diseases are more frequently hospitalized for diagnostics due to their chronic conditions, but also due to the consequences of their chronic illness. According to family nursing theories, structurally addressing patients’ social networks is part of a professional nursing assessment. Still little information is available about the attention hospital nurses give to the topic of family caregivers during formal conversations. Aim The aim of the study was to get an objective view of what topics on family caregivers were addressed in formal admission conversations, care conferences and discharge conversations by nurses, elderly patients (>65 years) with chronic diseases who still live independently and (if present) their family caregivers, in the hospital. Methods Qualitative research was done based on passive observations and audio recordings of formal conversations between nurses, patients and their family caregivers in the hospital. A phenomenological approach was chosen in an attempt to reflect reality without interference. Participants were those who were present during the formal conversations. The study was conducted in thirteen nursing wards in four general hospitals in the Netherlands. ResultsA total of 62 patients (mean age 76 years, 52% male) were included in the study resulting in 146 formal conversations. The content of these formal conversations identified three topics on family caregivers: ‘social network’, ‘practical organization of care’ and ‘patient preferences and patient health’. Secondary results showed that family caregivers were present during 107 (73%) formal conversations and had an active role in addressing topics on family caregivers. Conclusions: Even though extensive practical information was collected on the patients’ social network during the admission conversations, nurses rarely elaborated on this information in the interest of a nursing assessment or plan of care. The current nursing processes seemed to accommodate assessment of family caregivers’ involvement in the care for the patient at home, however, the form and content require improvements.