Nurses’ and care workers’ experiences of spiritual needs in residents with dementia in nursing homes: a qualitative study
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- BMC Nursing
DOI 10.1186/1472-6955-13-12
  1. Spiritual needs
  2. Dementia
  3. Nursing home
  4. Phenomenological hermeneutics
  5. Nursing care


The aim of the study was to investigate nurses’ and care workers’ experiences of spiritual needs among residents with dementia in nursing homes. Nurses claim to practice holistic nursing. Nevertheless, there is little knowledge about how to recognise spiritual needs in residents with dementia.


The study was conducted using a qualitative method with an exploratory design. Eight focus- group interviews in four Norwegian nursing homes were performed from June 2011 – Jan 2012. Using open-ended research questions, a total of 31 participants were asked to share their understanding and experiences regarding residents’ spiritual needs. The interviews were analysed using a phenomenological – hermeneutical method.


The nurses’ and care workers’ experiences of residents’ spiritual needs were related to three main themes; i) The need for serenity and inner peace, described as “contemplative and restful moments” and “calmness due to familiarity”, ii) The need for confirmation, described as “love and proximity” and iii) The need to express faith and beliefs, described as “participate in worship and prayers” and “approaching death”.

The comprehensive analyses revealed that the nurses believe the residents’ spiritual needs were linked to the residents’ previous sources of finding meaning, in relation to inter-personal, intra-personal and trans-personal dimensions in residents’ lives.


Nurses' and care workers’ experiences of spiritual needs in people with dementia are very similar to the findings for the general population regardless of the severity of the dementia. The study’s relevance to clinical practice indicates the importance of developing more knowledge about how people with dementia in nursing homes express spiritual needs and how to observe and interpret such needs.