Nursing Support for Families of Dying Patients

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When a patient has an advanced disease, considerable demands are placed on the whole family. Whilst coping with their own profound emotions, close relatives commonly have to support their loved ones through a range of treatments as the disease progresses through stages of remission and recurrence, until finally, a shift to a palliative mode of treatment must be faced. In such situations, family roles and relationships are likely to be stretched to the limit. It is clear from this that by the time the terminal stage of the patient's illness is reached, the family may have travelled a long and difficult road, and close relatives are likely to be emotionally vulnerable and in need of support. This study explores the needs of the relatives of terminally ill patients and the concerns of nurses who provide care in the hospital. The research data is used to design, implement and evaluate clinical standards for improved family support.