Exploring the lived experiences of nurses caring for the terminally ill patients with AIDS in selected wards in a level one district hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
Title: Exploring the lived experiences of nurses caring for the terminally ill patients with AIDS in selected wards in a level one district hospital. Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of nurses caring for dying patients with AIDS in the context of palliative care. Methodology: The study explored the meaning of caring and terminal illness and the lived experiences of nurses in the context of AIDS in palliative care. A constructivist paradigm underpinned this study. A qualitative research approach was used and Giorgi’s five steps of analysis were aligned to the Husserlian phenomenology method to make sense of the data. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with ten of the operational nurses who were caring for patients suffering from AIDS in the palliative care wards of a level one state-aided district hospital. These included professional nurses, enrolled nurses and enrolled nursing assistants. The interviews were audio-taped. Findings: The findings of the study were presented and discussed according to the two categories that emerged during the data analysis, namely, conceptualization of the core concepts of caring and terminal illness and the experiences of caring in the context of palliative care. Each of these categories had themes and sub-themes that were presented and discussed. The conceptualization of the core terms influenced the nurses’ actions, behaviors and opinions as they described their experiences of taking care of terminally ill patients who suffered from AIDS. The nurses’ lived experiences were conceptualized into three main themes: the social networking that enabled the nurses to collaborate with colleagues in the interdisciplinary teams and share knowledge, skills and support within the palliative care team to optimize patient outcomes; factors hindering the nurses abilities to provide quality care to their patients and the internal and external mechanisms that enabled the nurses to provide care within palliative care contexts despite the encountered challenges. Conclusion: Nurses are exposed to increasing work-load in the context of HIV/AIDS, particularly in the care of terminally ill patients suffering from AIDS as they deal with complex emotional aspects of the diseases. Routine exposure to suffering and death accustom the nurses to dealing with death, resulting in situations where they display lack of care and respect for the terminal patients. Therefore, the antecedents that alter the nurses’ level of caring augmented by the emotionally taxing contexts are an agenda that needs to be addressed in order to achieve emotional work through improved nurse-patient relationships.
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