Aim This ethnogarphic study explored the emotional labour of children’s nurses providing palliative care for children/young people and their families within community and children’s hospice settings in Wales.
Methods Data were generated between May 2008 and December 2010 using three research research methods:
Non-participant observation followed by unstructured interviews
Nurses being invited to send personal contributions they believed captured their emotional labour followed by unstructured interviews
Focus groups to test interpretations
Results The results indicated that the nurses' emotional labour was clearly influenced by their requirement to work within home or simulated home environments. The nurses adopted informal professional personas in order to portray 'homeliness-in-care'. At the children’s hospices, the nurses did so in order to portray a sense of 'home-from-home' for the CYP and families. The community nurses made efforts to appear 'at home-in-home' within the family homes of those they cared for, in order to avoid a sense of intrusion when they visited. The study’s findings demonstrated that nurses working with homely care settings are required to form emotional connexions with their patients and families. The nurses invested significant emotional labour to ensure that those in their care felt ‘cared for’. Nursing autonomy, time to care, relationship forming and trust building are central to nurses’ ability to portray homeliness-in-care (Figure 1).
Conclusion The study offers new insights into the challenges for nurses' emotional labour within children’s palliative care. Nurses were required to form long-term relationships with the CYP and families as a central part of their role. The nurses' emotional labour in portraying homeliness-in-care is important to the success of the respective palliative care services. Homeliness-in-care is an important aspect of CYP palliative care within home or simulated home care settings. For this to be successfully achieved, nurses themselves need support, a sense of autonomy, and time to care.
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