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Loneliness Among Older Home-Dwelling Persons: A Challenge for Home Care Nurses

Authors Tomstad S, Sundsli K, Sævareid HI, Söderhamn U

Received 22 December 2020

Accepted for publication 2 February 2021

Published 19 February 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 435—445


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Solveig Tomstad, Kari Sundsli, Hans Inge Sævareid, Ulrika Söderhamn

Centre for Caring Research, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Grimstad, Norway

Correspondence: Solveig Tomstad
Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, 4604, Norway

Aim: To explore how nurses working in the home care service sector perceived the loneliness experienced by older people living at home, and how they met these lonely individuals’ needs.
Background: Loneliness is a well-known phenomenon among groups of older home-dwelling people and has been shown to be a health-related problem. Health care professionals working in the primary care sector, such as home care nurses, may be in the position to identify loneliness among at-home seniors. Identifying and addressing loneliness must become important issues in home care nursing.
Design: A qualitative study.
Methods: Focus group interviews were performed with 11 home care nurses in Norway. The interviews were analyzed in accordance with manifest and latent content analysis. The Coreq checklist was followed.
Findings: Home care nurses identified loneliness among older people as being a complex and sensitive phenomenon that activated conflicted thoughts, feelings and solutions in a system where older people’s loneliness was generally not considered as a need requiring nursing care.
Conclusion: Loneliness among older people challenged the nurses with regard to communicating older people’s feelings of loneliness and meeting their social needs. Organizational structures were perceived as being the main barriers to meeting these needs. Older people’s feelings of loneliness stimulated nurses’ reflections about the purpose of their nursing role. It is important to address loneliness among older home-dwelling people and include the issue in home care nursing in order to meet their need for social contact. Home nursing leaders must pay attention to the nurses’ experiences, promote the nurses’ acquisition of knowledge about this kind of loneliness and learn how to meet an older individual’s needs. There should be a special focus on communicating with lonely older people in order to address their feelings loneliness.

Keywords: content analysis, focus group interview, home care nursing, home living, older people, qualitative research study

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