Aim. This study aimed to describe lived experiences of self-care among persons using advanced medical technology at home.
Background. An increased number of people are performing self-care while using different sorts of advanced medical technology at home. Knowledge of different patient groups' lived experiences of this situation may be useful for nurses and other caregivers in educating and supporting these patients.
Design. A qualitative design was used.
Methods. Suitable patients in western Sweden were informed by their nurses and invited to participate. Ten people, who performed self-care at home, either while using long-term oxygen therapy from a ventilator or oxygen cylinder, or while performing peritoneal or haemodialysis, were interviewed. The interviews were analysed using a descriptive phenomenological methodology.
Results. Prerequisites for self-care when using advanced medical technology at home were: support from professional caregivers and significant others; cognitive capacity; and a positive attitude to life. This type of self-care contains steps for living healthy, for planning and for adjusting technology. It involves a process of learning and feelings both of being tied up and of feeling free. Additionally, it has influences on the home environment.
Conclusion. Self-care in this context can be described on a generic level. Self-care is more than mastering the technology; it also means dealing with daily life activities for healthy living, planning for the use of the equipment and activities, having knowledge about bodily signs of good and ill-health, and adjusting treatment according to the circumstances.
Relevance to clinical practice. Self-care in this context involves a learning process with education and continuing access to support from professional caregivers. With knowledge and support, patients are able to assume substantial responsibility for self-care. Needs for design improvements of medical technology for use at home are raised.
Blackwell Publishing Ltd , 2009. Vol. 18, 2809-2817 p.