A voice needs to be heard: The meaning of ‘going home’

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Background: This case report addresses a client from a minority cultural background in Australia and her complex cultural needs at the end of life. Case History: A 66-year-old Japanese female client diagnosed with renal cancer, and lung and spine metastasis shared her story. Since a left nephrectomy in 2007, she has had hemodialysis 3 days a week. She left Japan more than 30 years ago and moved to Australia 20 years ago. With the 6-month prognosis, she expressed her desire to “go home.” The meaning of “going home” was explored with the author who shares the same cultural background and language and is a palliative care nurse. The meanings for wanting to go home were her nostalgia for the traditional food, language, land, and death rituals. Discussion: The client identified her preferred place to die and discussed her death wishes. Open, honest communication with health professionals about her condition and prognosis facilitated meaningful discussions. Conclusion: The narrative demonstrates the complex issues and needs of clients from minority cultural backgrounds and the importance of understanding the real cultural meaning behind their stories. Exploring the meaning with compassionate curiosity as well as interpretation support was the key.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-15
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • end-of-life care
  • case study
  • cultural minority
  • cultural sensitivity

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