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Exploring a Nursing Home–Specific Interdisciplinary Approach

Toward Palliative Care for the Demented and Complex-Disabled Elderly

Park, Min Sun PhD, RN; Lee, Su Jung PhD, RN; Chang, Sung Ok PhD, RN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: December 2019 - Volume 21 - Issue 6 - p E9–E15
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000579
Global Exemplar Series

The number of elderly suffering from dementia and complex disabilities is gradually increasing in nursing homes, and they form a differentiated group that requires palliative care provided by practitioners in various disciplines from the time of their admission to improve the quality of their remaining lives. The purpose of this study was to explore an interdisciplinary care approach by nurses and related practitioners for the demented and complex-disabled elderly in nursing homes that focuses on palliative care based on an ethical point of view. A qualitative thematic analysis was conducted through in-depth interviews of 29 interdisciplinary practitioners working at 5 nursing homes. From them, 3 themes and 9 subthemes were extracted as the key results. First, practitioners set up cooperative care plans based on constantly tracking down clues to gradual functional deteriorations. Second, practitioners establish a cooperative committee to link residents and practitioners for responding to the subtle expressions of the elderly. Finally, practitioners maximize the opportunities for improving the quality of the elderly’s remaining lives. These results can be the basis for the first prototype in developing interdisciplinary practical guidelines for nursing home–specific palliative care and can provide new insights for the practical care concept of palliative care.

Min Sun Park, PhD, RN, is research professor, College of Nursing, Korea University, Seoul.

Su Jung Lee, PhD, RN, is research professor, College of Nursing, Korea University, Seoul.

Sung Ok Chang, PhD, RN, is professor, College of Nursing, Korea University, Seoul.

Address correspondence to: Sung Ok Chang, PhD, RN, College of Nursing, Korea University, 145 Anam-ro, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 02841, Republic of Korea (

This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2015R1D1A1A01057258).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Online date: June 3, 2019

© 2019 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.