Working With Families

Document Type

Book Chapter


Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgrad Medicine, WA Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care




This article was originally published as: Kristjanson, L., Hudson, P., & Oldham, M. (2003). Working with families. In O’Connor, M., & Aranda, S. (Eds.) Palliative Care Nursing: A Guide to Practice. (2nd ed., 271-284). Original book available here.


Families of people receiving palliative care are profoundly affected by the challenges of the illness. They are called upon to cope with daily caregiving, alterations to their roles, and changing responsibilities within the family. Family members also confront shifts in the meaning of life and relationships as they come to recognise the terminal stage of the person's illness. These demands require changes in arrangements for physical care and practical difficulties with daily living while families are attempting to handle their own emotional distress about the person's care and concerns about the future (Bergen 1991; Ferrell1998).