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  • The Interpretation and Practice of Family Empowerment in Home Care Nursing: Palliative and Chronic Illness Contexts

The Interpretation and Practice of Family Empowerment in Home Care Nursing: Palliative and Chronic Illness Contexts

A foundational tenet of home care is patient and family empowerment. Increasingly, empowerment is emphasized in health services policy and practice, valued for promoting physical and mental health, enhancing quality of care, and respecting autonomy. It is also motivated by economic concerns of governments seeking to contain service delivery costs. Implicit in the move to empowerment models of care is an assumption that all individuals desire active involvement in all aspects of care provision and decision-making. However, previous research in acute and long-term care suggests not everyone desires active involvement. This remains to be confirmed in research in home care and palliative care contexts.  

This qualitative study examines the interpretation and practice of family empowerment in home care nursing interactions. Using an ethnographic approach this study will also observe how empowerment philosophies are enacted in practice by home care nurses in interactions with families.  

Our Research Objectives and Questions are as Follows: 

  • How is the abstract principle of “family empowerment” interpreted, enacted and experienced by home care nurses in specific strategies and practices within their organizational contexts?
  • How are empowerment practices experienced by family caregivers? For instance, do all families react well to empowerment, and do they perceive benefits from this approach?
  • How do patients’ expectations (e.g. role preferences) and related behaviours impact family caregiver’s experiences of empowerment?
  • How do these experiences and practices differ between palliative and more general chronic illness care contexts?
  • What are the most effective ways that knowledge gained from this study can be translated for use in clinical practice and health policy?  


Giesbrecht, M.D., Crooks, V.A., & Stajduhar, K.I.  (2012). Examining the language-place-healthcare intersection in the context of Canadian homecare nursing. Nursing Inquiry. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1111/nin.12010.

Stajduhar, K.I., Funk, L., Wolse, F., Crooks, V., Roberts, D., Williams, A., Cloutier-Fisher, D., & McLeod, B. (2011). Core aspects of “empowering” caregivers as articulated by home health leaders: Palliative and chronic illness contexts. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 43(3), 78-94.

Funk, L.M., Stajduhar, K.I., & Purkis, M.E. (2011). An exploration of empowerment discourse within home care nurses accounts of practice. Nursing Inquiry, 18(1), 66-76.

Principal Investigator:
Kelli Stajduhar

Christie Beveridge
Denise Cloutier Fisher
Valorie Crooks
Laura Funk
Barbara McLeod
Mary Ellen Purkis
Della Roberts
Allison Williams

Research Staff:
Faye Wolse
Melissa Giesbrecht
Elizabeth Causton

Project Contact:
Faye Wolse  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Status: Preparation of manuscripts for publication are underway.

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