What does family-centred care mean to nurses and how do they think it could be enhanced in practice

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This paper is a report of the qualitative findings of a multisite survey in seven children's units in Ireland. In this survey, nurses caring for children identified their practice and perception of family-centred care.


International research has identified inconsistencies with the provision and application of family-centred care in practice. Existing research studies illustrate barriers to family-centred care including nurses’ attitudes to families and a lack of support and resources for the philosophy.


A descriptive survey design was employed to collect data in 2008–2009. Questionnaires were distributed to nurses (n = 750) which yielded a response rate of 33% (n = 250). The nurses completed a 47-item questionnaire which examined nurses’ perceptions and practices of family-centred care, the quantitative findings of this study will be reported in another publication. The questionnaire contained two open-ended questions and the data from these questions are reported here.


While nurses accept family-centred care as an ideal philosophy for the care of children and their families, the implementation of family-centred care in practice would seem to present challenges for nurses. The majority in this study indicated that they required further organizational and managerial support to fully implement family-centred care practices. Two interrelated themes were identified ‘the components of family-centred care’ and ‘enhancing family-centred care’.


To provide good quality family-centred care nurses need adequate resources, appropriate education, support for managers and support from other healthcare disciplines.

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