An Exploration of Compassionate Care in the Older Adult Care Setting

Fiona Kelly

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    Compassion and person-centred care are viewed as the gold standard when caring for patients. An increasing number of older adults are living in long term care settings and it would appear from recent healthcare scandals and reports that compassionate care delivery is experiencing challenges in such settings and that there are also issues with the staffs’ professional quality of life which may be impacting on compassionate care delivery. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore compassionate care in the older adult care setting by examining the relationships between observed care delivery, professional person-centredness and quality of life and patient satisfaction with person-centred care. An exploratory, case study design was employed. The literature highlighted the difficulties with measuring compassion. Thus, in this study, person-centeredness is used as a proxy measure for compassion. Healthcare professionals’ quality of life was measured using the Professional Quality of Life Scale to examine for relationships to person-centred care, measured using the Person-Centred Climate Questionnaire–Staff version. Patient satisfaction with person-centred care was also measured, using the Person-Centred Climate Questionnaire-Patient version. Staff- patients interactions to assess care delivery was measured using the Quality of Interaction Schedule. A HSE run long term care facility with 5 separate units was used as the study site. A purposive sample was recruited which included healthcare professionals (n = 54: nurses and healthcare assistants), patients (n = 56) or their nominated relative (n =15). The observations of care identified high levels of positive interactions. Professional quality of life was determined to be higher for healthcare assistants in comparison to nurses, with healthcare assistants having higher levels of compassion satisfaction and nurses having higher levels of compassion fatigue and burnout. High levels of person-centredness were acknowledged by both patients and staff and person-centredness was positively correlated with compassion satisfaction and negatively correlated with compassion fatigue and burnout within staff. Overall the findings suggest that healthcare professionals need further support in order to improve professional quality of life and thus, increase compassionate person-centred care.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Denieffe, Suzanne, Supervisor
    • Madden, Catherine, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


    • Compassionate care, Older adult care settings


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