Objectives - To identify community nurses' perceptions of quality care provision for patients requiring palliative care.
Design - Semi-structured interviews were conducted with community nurses working within the district nursing service. An adaptation of Flanagan's critical incident technique was employed to elicit factors associated with high or poor quality palliative care. Interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis, recurrent themes being agreed by the research team.
Setting - One community healthcare trust.
Subjects - 62 members of the district nursing team (grades B-H).
Results - Respondents recounted the context in which high quality palliative care could be provided, the actions required, and the indicators that suggested the desired level of care had been achieved. Key factors identified were: the early referral of patients to the district nursing service, family circumstances, the availability of time, the accessibility of services and equipment, and the relationship with other healthcare professionals and informal carers. There was a general view that a positive outcome had been achieved when patients retained control over their circumstances and died a peaceful death, in the place of their choice, supported by their family.
Conclusions - Community nurses were able to articulate clearly the essential components of high quality care. Whilst these factors do not represent a comprehensive list, they are put forward as a useful starting point for standard setting and subsequent audit.