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What should you tell care home residents when a fellow resident dies?

  • Comments (40)

A recent paper on end of life care in nursing homes published in Nursing Times found that “in the context of homes as communal settings, residents commonly voiced concern at the information vacuum that can surround the death of fellow residents, when they are given no information about how their life concluded or the care they received”.

When a patient dies on a hospital ward what information should you give other patients?

  • Comments (40)

Readers' comments (40)

  • Tinkerbell

    absurd at it may sound, you could let the other people know in a sensitive manner they passed away if they ask.

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  • Anonymous

    misleading title to the article which seems a common failing in NT.

    when a patient dies there is not change in the rules of confidentiality.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree that confidentiality rules still apply. The family may not want other people to know either. It should be up to them who knows.

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  • Anonymous

    care-home or hospital ward?

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  • Tinkerbell

    i thought we were talking about care homes.

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  • Anonymous

    question above was

    "When a patient dies on a hospital ward what information should you give other patients?"

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  • Speaking as an ex-Residential Care Manager, yes confidentiality matters and is still a viable comment. However, what a lot of people don't recognise here is that in residential care - they become like a family, they are all mostly friends and are very involved with the people they have lived with, for some well over 5-6 years. It can be very upsetting for the other residents when they are told nothing at all about why a member of their small community isn't their that morning.

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  • This is interesting for two reasons. It's the first time I've ever seen this important topic raised and it has the potential to fly in the face of one of nursing's Holy Grails: the maintenance of patient/client/resident confidentiality (and should that cease after someone has died?).

    Fact. A Care or Residential Home is most definitely not a hospital. In the latter death is more likely to be sudden and other patients are much more likely to be satisfied with a short sensitive explanation that someone has died if they enquire.

    However as Alicia has pointed out the relationship between the deceased and others in a residential setting can often be familial. Also residents are more likely to acknowledge the reality of death. These factors often demand that something much more than a short explanation that someone has died. No matter how sensitively phrased, this could easily come across as a hard, mind-your-own-business-and-I-can't-tell-you-anything-else response.

    As nurses we are correctly conditioned to divulging as little information as possible about clients to persons who have no legitmate business knowing it.

    This really is a case where every nurse/manager/ must assess each situation on its own merits - but- whatever your intentions you forget the NMC's view of client confidentiality at your peril.



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  • Ellen Watters

    This is a tricky one and really depends on the individual circumstances. I remember working on a florence nightingale style ward and pulling all the screens so that the porters could pick up a body to take to the morgue. The other patients knewwhat was going on but rarely asked.

    If it was a ward where the patient may be there for some time, or were out and in on a regular basis i.e a respiratory ward, they may get to know each other and bonds develop. Then, if asked what happened to so and so.. do you lie?

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  • Let's face it - in the Nightingale style wards, there was only was one reason that all the screens got drawn simultaneously, and that was because someone had passed away. (The coffin shaped trolley was often a clue too!!!)
    Is death a confidential matter however? Death - and the registration thereof - is a public event, with records that can be viewed. So I'm not convinced that there is much, if any, breach of NMC regs on this.

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