Understanding nurse and patient perceptions of a 'good death'

Clinical review
Published: 
2011
Vol: 
1
No: 
2
First published in this online journal
Declaration of interests: 
none
Author(s): 
Miranda Paddy
Author profile (accurate when this article was originally published): 
Miranda Paddy is Staff Nurse, Nuffield Ward, St Christopher’s Hospice, London. Email: m.paddy@stchristophers.org.uk

The generally accepted principles of a good death among Western health and social care professionals include that the patient is: pain and symptom free; treated as an individual and with dignity and respect; involved in decision-making; prepared for and accepts the imminence of death; surrounded by loved ones in familiar surroundings and has completed unfinished business. However, patients may have different perceptions than healthcare professionals about what constitutes a good death. It is important, therefore, that nurses have a broad understanding of the individual wishes of patients regarding death and dying so they do not impose their own views relating to how a patient should die. Nurses need to provide individualised care, which best meets the needs of the patient and family, and facilitate individual people’s wishes at the end of life. This article will present literature associated with the perceptions of nurses and patients concerning a good death. It will explore the characteristics of both good and bad deaths and discuss implications for nursing practice in all care settings.

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