UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fostering family relationships in long-term care McDougall, Jennifer


Family relationships are a significant part of a person’s life. Unfortunately, moving a relative from a family home into a long-term care (LTC) home requires the readjustment of family relationships from a familiar to a foreign environment and puts these relationships and associated family identity at risk. With the shift in focus to person-centred care and its need for the maintenance of family connection, the fostering of family relationships in LTC homes becomes an important part of properly enacting this approach to care. This critical ethnography explored the ways in which family relationships are fostered in LTC and identified the efforts made and barriers that exist in the broader organizational and social context of LTC that influence how these relationships are fostered. Data from a larger critical ethnography was collected through semi-structured interviews with and participant observation of 12 family members, seven staff members, and three residents from a LTC home in an urban city in British Columbia, Canada. Family members came into the LTC home to spend time with their relative and maintain a connection with them, but a lack of opportunity to take part in activities that recognized the importance of these connections prevented family relationships from being fostered. Task-focused care overlooked the importance of relational care and further prevented family relationships from being maintained. Physical and cognitive decline also made it difficult for family members to engage and connect with their relative, resulting in a significant impact on the fostering of family relationships. Driving distances and a lack of opportunity to maintain connections with relatives outside of the LTC home added to the challenge of fostering family relationships. Family members want to maintain family identities and associated relationships but require support in doing so. The findings from this study have implications for nursing practice, administration, education, and research.

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