Case study 23.1

After reading the case study, please write down some answers to the following questions.

Why do you think the patient had already been prepared for the mortuary before his family had been given the opportunity to sit quietly with their father?

Did your answer to question one relate to pressures for beds to be made available to admit people waiting in A&E? Did your answer consider that the nurses on the ward that day may have been very task-orientated and had not considered the needs of the daughters, only their own needs to keep on top of their workload? Whose interests were at the centre of care – the patient’s and his family’s or the nurses?

Why do you think the daughters returned to the ward the day after their father died?

Did your answer to question two consider the daughters’ need to seek closure or a need to better understand what had happened in their absence? Could they have been feeling any sense of guilt, regret or anger? Maybe they wanted to be reassured that their father died surrounded by people who cared.

Where do you think you should primarily look to understand better the role of a nurse and the correct attitudes expected to be owned by registered nurses in the UK?

Did your answer to question three automatically make you think of the Code of Professional Conduct published by the NMC (2015)?

If you were the senior staff nurse, what approaches do you think you would have used to address the needs of the two daughters of the deceased patient?

Regarding question four, I hope you were able to identify many different ways in which you would have responded better to this situation. An interesting qualitative research paper by Keegan et al. (2001) identified a number of ways in which family members of people who had died in hospital and in the community had stated their needs had been responded to by caring and empathic nurses. One relative, who had not been present during the death of her loved one, stated that she appreciated a nurse going through the nursing records of the patient’s final few days of life, showing how the dying person had been well cared for. Another relative appreciated how the nurses gave her as much time as required to say her goodbyes and not rushing her off the ward so to free a bed. Were either of these approaches thought of by you? The paper by Keegan et al. provides other examples of care praised by the dead person’s relatives. I encourage you to read this article and reflect upon it.