Family members’ and carers’ perceptions of palliative care provided by district nurses
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Family members’ and carers’ perceptions of palliative care provided by district nurses

Christine Coldrick Practice nurse, Adults and community, Midlands Medical Partnership, Birmingham, England
Kevin Crimmons Associate professor, Birmingham City University, England

The aim of this literature review was to analyse the available evidence from families and carers of patients with life-limiting conditions to identify any inconsistencies in the provision of palliative care by district nurses. A systematic search of medical and nursing databases such as Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, MEDLINE, Summon and the Cochrane Library was conducted using several keywords. Following a critical analysis of the available evidence, ten primary research studies were selected that addressed the research question. The literature review identified two main themes from the ten primary research studies: access to palliative care services and the quality of palliative care provided by district nurses.

The literature review identified that there was often suboptimal coordination of district nursing palliative care services and significant variations in access to these services. While family members’ and carers’ perceptions of palliative care provided by district nurses were frequently positive, outof-hours palliative care was often regarded as inadequate. The introduction of a named palliative care district nurse could improve access to palliative care, ensuring district nursing services are consistent and providing enhanced support for patients, carers and families. The evidence identified in this literature review indicates that palliative care services are accessed primarily through district nurses and that district nurses are optimally placed to coordinate services. However, further research is required into the extent of district nurses’ palliative care knowledge and skills to inform future educational initiatives.

Primary Health Care. 30, 1, 31-36. doi: 10.7748/phc.2019.e1478


Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared


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