To determine registered nurses' and care assistants' difficulties and strategies for preserving dignity of migrant patients in the last phase of life and their families.
Preserving dignity of patients in a palliative phase entails paying attention to the uniqueness of patients. Migrant patients often have particular needs and wishes that care staff find difficult to address, or meet, and hence the patient's dignity might be at stake.
We performed five focus group discussions with care staff and one with key figures with diverse ethnic backgrounds in the Netherlands (2018–2020). Thematic analysis was used.
Care staff creatively safeguarded the patient's dignity in daily care by attending to personal needs concerning intimate body care and providing non-verbal attention. Care staff had difficulties to preserve dignity, when the patient's family engaged themselves in the patient's choices or requests. According to care staff, the interference of family impeded the patient's quality of life or threatened the patient's dignity in the last days, or family member's choices (seemingly) prevailed over the patient's wishes. Care staff safeguarded dignity by catering to cultural or religious practices at the end of life and employing cultural knowledge during decision making. Key figures emphasized to make decisions with patient and family together and to listen more carefully to what patients mean. Bypassing family was experienced as harmful, and repetitively informing family, about, for example, the patient's disease or procedures in the nursing home, was experienced as ineffective.
To preserve the patient's dignity, attention is needed for relational aspects of dignity and needs of family, next to patients' individual needs.
Care staff should be supported to employ strategies to engage family of migrant patients, by, for example, acknowledging families' values, such as giving good care to the patient and the importance of religious practices for dignity.