Try to be a skilled companion to older people this Christmas

The holiday season can be a lonely time for many older people.

The holiday season can be a lonely time for many older people.

Audio editorial


Nurses are usually busy at time of year, as pressure on health and social care services rises for the holiday season. Yet for some frail, older people, especially those who have outlived many of their generation of family and friends, this can be an especially lonely time. 

The holiday season may be a reminder of loss rather than a time to feel festive, and nurses should provide appropriately balanced, holistic care that acknowledges individuals’ emotional and psychological needs. 

In an Evidence & practice article, Ann Gallagher and Linus Vanlaere explore caregivers’ perspectives on ethical aspects of residential and domiciliary care, much of which revolve around the relationships of caregivers with older people. 

‘Skilled companionship is a form of care that integrates competence with compassion’

Nicky Hayes

One of the themes the authors identify is the boundaries we need to maintain while engaging emotionally with the people we care for.

This theme is can be characterised as ‘skilled companionship’, or a form of care that integrates competence with compassion.   

Skilled, individualised care delivered in partnership with carers in dementia-friendly environments is strongly promoted by the RCN SPACE programme, which is based on principles developed for acute hospitals. In the Feature, Anne Horner discusses how the SPACE programme is being piloted in six care homes and is producing impressive results. 

The early success of the programme’s principles has obvious implications for the festive environment, and I hope we can ensure all of our patients receive safe, holistic and individualised care throughout the holiday season. 

Nursing Older People will take a break in January and will be back in February 2017. In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas. 

About the author


Nicky Hayes is a nurse consultant for older people, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, and consultant editor of Nursing Older People

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