End-of-life care for older rural people: just being there

Barbara Horrell, Christine Stephens


This paper discusses the experience of caring for someone over 65, with a terminal illness, in rural New Zealand. The narratives from seven participants offer some contextual understanding of complex lived realities, potentially informing future rural EoL care and contributing to contemporary goals of positive ageing and dying well. Positioning themselves as carers, rather than as rural people, the participants speak about similar issues, with diverging perspectives reflecting their different carer standpoints. Limited access to 24 hour support and specialist palliative care services, and negotiating complex needs are juxtaposed with the joys and rewards of caring. Ambivalence and conflict permeate the stories, reflecting a particular socio-historical moment as, caught between two paradigms of care, the participants vacillate between desiring the empathic, compassionate care of yesteryear and the benefits of modern medical technology. Overall however, therapeutic relationships unambiguously emerge as the most valued aspect of quality EoL care.


end-of-life care, rural, older people, narratives

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol7iss2id131