Exploring perceptions and practices of ICU nurses when supporting families of critically ill patients in two hospitals in Blantyre, Malawi.
Mulenga, Wyness Tengeneza Gondwe.
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Aim: The aim of this study was to explore perceptions and practices of ICD nurses, when supporting families of critically ill patients, in two hospitals in Blantyre, Malawi. Methodology: A descriptive qualitative approach was used to explore perceptions and practices of ICD nurses, when supporting families of critically ill patients. Simpson's Conceptual Framework was used to guide this study. Purposive sampling was done where five nurses from a public and five from a private hospital were interviewed until data saturation. Repeat interviews were conducted at two week intervals, for data depth and verification. Each interview lasted 25-40 minutes. All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Manual data analysis was used to identify themes and categories. Documents used for family support care were also reviewed. Findings: The study revealed that nurses acknowledged that families experienced stress due to critical illness and ICD admission of their loved ones. The study also reiterated that families have psychological, social and spiritual needs, including the need for information, comfort and proximity to their loved ones. Nurses met the families' needs through empathy, dedication and commitment, inclusion of families in patient care and decision making and information giving to promote understanding and endurance during the stressful period. ICD nurses encountered some challenges when they provided support care to families, which included families' interference from wanting to be with their loved ones all the time, lack of clear policies to guide family support care, limited time to attend to the relatives due to shortage of nurses and nurses' own stress, especially when they did not have enough information to answer questions from families, when communication was inadequate from physicians to families. In addition all participants did not have formal training except "on the job" orientation, which was not enough to prepare them for family support care. Recommendations: Recommendations have been suggested for improvements m nursing practice, nursing management, nursing education and future nursing research.