Health Care Aides' Conversations with Families About End-Of-Life and Dementia
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Background: Research has demonstrated that health professionals have a difficult time talking with family members of people with dementia about end-of-life and avoid these conversations. A palliative approach is appropriate for dementia and effective communication between healthcare providers and relatives is imperative in this approach. Research Question: How do health care aides (HCAs) in long-term care (LTC) homes experience discussions about death and dying with relatives of residents who have dementia? The aim of this descriptive qualitative study was to explore the experiences of health care aides’ (HCAs) and understand the conversations they have with family members when a resident in long-term care has dementia and is nearing end-of-life. Methods: This study was a descriptive qualitative study, with thematic analysis of interviews of 14 HCAs from 6 LTC homes in Ontario, Canada. Findings: There were four themes. Findings include conversations occur in-person and families initiate conversations. Conversations can be difficult and emotional and relationships with residents, families, fellow HCAs, and nurses, influence the conversations. Conversations occur in the context of written and unwritten rules and can make conversations difficult. Discussion: Conversations between HCAs and families occur, and HCAs respond to relatives’ questions. It is important to support HCAs and provide them with a clear understanding of responding to relatives’ questions.