Making Each Other’s Daily Life: Nurse Assistants’ Experiences and Knowledge on Developing a Meaningful Daily Life in Nursing Homes

Inger James*, Carin Fredriksson, Catrin Wahlström, Annica Kihlgren, Karin Blomberg
School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden

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© James et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

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* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, S-70182 Örebro, Sweden; Tel: +46-19-30 10 95; Fax: +46-19-30 36 01; E-mail:



In a larger action research project, guidelines were generated for how a meaningful daily life could be developed for older persons. In this study, we focused on the nurse assistants’ (NAs) perspectives, as their knowledge is essential for a well-functioning team and quality of care. The aim was to learn from NAs’ experiences and knowledge about how to develop a meaningful daily life for older persons in nursing homes and the meaning NAs ascribe to their work.


The project is based on Participatory and Appreciative Action and Reflection. Data were generated through interviews, participating observations and informal conversations with 27 NAs working in nursing homes in Sweden, and a thematic analysis was used.


NAs developed a meaningful daily life by sensing and finding the “right” way of being (Theme 1). They sense and read the older person in order to judge how the person was feeling (Theme 2). They adapt to the older person (Theme 3) and share their daily life (Theme 4). NAs use emotional involvement to develop a meaningful daily life for the older person and meaning in their own work (Theme 5), ultimately making each other’s daily lives meaningful.


It was obvious that NAs based the development of a meaningful daily life on different forms of knowledge: theoretical and practical knowledge, and practical wisdom, all of which are intertwined. These results could be used within the team to constitute a meaningful daily life for older persons in nursing homes.

Keywords: Knowledge, meaningful daily life, nurse assistants, nursing homes, older persons.