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Oral health plays second fiddle in palliative care: an interview study with registered nurses in home healthcare
Home Health Care, Härryda municipality, Härryda (SWE).
MedPro Clinic Stavre Primary Health Care Centre, Trollhättan (SWE).
University West, Department of Health Sciences, Section for nursing - graduate level. Skaraborg institute of Research and Development, Skövde (SWE);Department of Medicine, Skaraborg Hospital Skövde, Skövde (SWE) . (LOV)
2021 (English)In: BMC Palliative Care, E-ISSN 1472-684X, Vol. 20, no 1, article id 173Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Oral health is crucial to the experience of well-being, and symptoms from the mouth are common at the end of life. Palliative care aims to identify and treat symptoms early to avoid unnecessary suffering and is thus an important part of nursing in home healthcare. The aim of this study was to illustrate the professional reflections of registered nurses about oral health amongst patients in palliative care, who are being cared for in a home healthcare setting.

Results: The results showed oral health in end-of-life care, to be an area marked by responsibility and ethical considerations. This was seen in all four partly overlapping themes that emerged through the analysis: Oral health is easily overlooked in palliative care, Oral health is everybody’s but in reality nobody’s responsibility, Patient integrity can be an obstacle for oral health, and Focus on oral health is urgently needed. The mouth is often not included as part of the daily basic care routine, by the registered nurses and the home healthcare staff, until the patient is near end of life. Moreover, neither does the patient tell about symptoms from the mouth. The interpreted whole indicates that the registered nurses had a bad conscience about not doing what they are actually responsible for and ought to do.

Conclusion: The oral health of patients at the end of life risks being forgotten or falling between the cracks, due to the nurses’ scattered tasks and unclear delimitations between their, and other professionals’ responsibilities. The responsibilities of registered nurses are also ethically demanding, since their intent to respect the patient’s integrity could mean that in some cases the patients does not allow them to help with oral health. To reduce the risk that oral health is overlooked, clearer demarcation and guidelines on the division of responsibilities are required. Routines that clearly implement early and recurring oral health assessments in home healthcare as well as continuing education updates on oral health and oral care are also needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021. Vol. 20, no 1, article id 173
Keywords [en]
General Medicine, Community care, Content analysis, End of life, Home healthcare, Oral health, Palliative care, Registered nurses
National Category
Nursing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-17763DOI: 10.1186/s12904-021-00859-3ISI: 000716434300001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85118799058OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-17763DiVA, id: diva2:1611333
Note

Open access funding provided by University West

Available from: 2021-11-15 Created: 2021-11-15 Last updated: 2024-01-17

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Rejnö, Åsa

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