Family members' prioritisation of care in residential aged care facilities: a case for individualised care

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Objectives: To investigate family members' prioritisation of care in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Introduction and background: Family members are often involved in the care of their older relatives even after these relatives transit to a RACF. Understanding family members' priorities regarding care (i.e., what is most important to them) can provide valuable insights into how to better meet residents' needs. Design: A multisite mixed-methods study comprising qualitative methods and Q methodology. The qualitative component of the study was guided by the COREQ checklist. Methods: Participants comprised 27 family members of residents living in one of five participating Australian RACFs. Participants rank-ordered 34 cards, each representing an aspect of care, on a predefined grid from “Least important” (−4) to “Most important” (+4). Participants also engaged in a think-aloud task, demographic questionnaire, post-sorting interview and semi-structured interview. Q data were analysed using inverted factor techniques to identify factors that each represent a portion of shared meaning. Factors were interpreted as viewpoints using data from the think-aloud task and interviews. These data were further analysed using inductive content analysis to reveal influences on prioritisation decision-making. Results: Three distinct viewpoints were identified through Q methodology: prioritisation of residents' physical needs, maintaining residents' independence, and human connection. Inductive content analysis revealed four influences on prioritisation decision-making: residents' capabilities and support requirements, unmet needs, family bridging the gaps, and family knowledge of residents. Conclusions: The study indicated that to meet residents' needs and family members' priorities, individualised approaches to care are warranted. It also demonstrated the vital role family members play in residents' care when needs are not fully met. Relevance to Clinical Practice: Strategies to improve individualised care in clinical practice include flexibility of routines, supporting family members' involvement in care, workforce training focused on family–staff communication, and safer staffing ratios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3272-3285
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Early online date30 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • aged care
  • caregiver burden
  • carers
  • decision-making
  • family-centred care
  • nursing homes
  • older people
  • patient-centred care
  • qualitative approaches
  • residential homes


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