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Sharing living and dying: A balancing act between vulnerability and a sense of security. Enrolled nurses' experiences of working in the sitting service for dying patients at home

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 August 2011

Birgitta Wallerstedt*
School of Health and Medical Science, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
Eva Benzein
School of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden Department of Palliative Care Research, Ersta Sköndal, University College, Stockholm, Sweden
Birgitta Andershed
Department of Palliative Care Research, Ersta Sköndal, University College, Stockholm, Sweden Department of Nursing, Gjøvik University College, Gjøvik, Norway
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Birgitta Wallerstedt, PRIVO, Vimmerby Hälsocentral, SE-598 84 Vimmerby, Sweden. E-mail:



To describe enrolled nurses' (ENs') experiences of working in a sitting service for dying patients at home (SSH).


The ENs who participated in this study had permanent jobs in community care/ primary care, but were also employed part time in a special home-sitting service organization in a municipality in the south of Sweden. Data were collected by four focus group interviews with 17 enrolled nurses. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data.


Care-giving in SSH was a balancing act between a sense of security and a feeling of vulnerability. Feeling secure and valued and that one is developing both professionally and personally, stemmed from working in partnership, whereas a feeling of vulnerability was associated with managing closeness and distance, being a mediator, having responsibility and feeling guilty, feeling hindered from doing good, facing loneliness, and affecting private lives.

Significance of results:

SSH makes it possible for people who are terminally ill to remain at home until they die. If the SSH organization were not an option for dying patients and their families, the pressure on the healthcare would be dramatically increased.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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