“They don't just disappear”: Acknowledging death in the long-term care setting

J. Maitland*, K. Brazil, B. James-Abra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the value of a formal room blessing ritual held within a long-term care facility, from the perspectives of staff, residents, and family members.

Method: A qualitative research study involving interviews with staff, residents, and family members was conducted to examine the perceived value of a room blessing ritual.

Results: Twenty-four room blessing attendees participated in the study (nine staff, eight residents, and seven family members). Attendees felt that the room blessing provided an opportunity to formally acknowledge the death of the resident and their grief; the majority felt that this was a positive experience and that it provided an element of closure. Staff members and residents expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to connect with family members of the deceased to express their condolences during the ritual. Participants also identified the inclusivity of the ritual (i.e., an open invitation to all staff, residents, and family members) as a positive aspect that served as a reminder that others shared in their grief. Staff members felt that blessing the room for the new resident was an important component of the ritual, helping to bridge the gap between mourning and welcoming a new person. Staff, residents, and family members felt that the room blessing positively reflected the mission and values of the facility. The most highly valued aspect of the ritual for all attendees was the sharing of stories about the deceased to celebrate that person's life.

Significance of results: Long-term care facilities need to recognize that formal supports to manage the bereavement needs of staff and residents, such as a room blessing ritual, should be incorporated into their model for managing end-of-life care, given the relationship between the emotional health of staff and the quality of care provided for residents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number4
Early online date15 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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