An autoethnography of death and dying in Northern Ireland

Áine Carroll (School of Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Integrated Care

ISSN: 1476-9018

Publication date: 6 June 2020



In Northern Ireland, access to good quality palliative care is an accepted and expected part of modern cancer care. The “Transforming Your Palliative and End of Life Care” programme “supports the design and delivery of coordinated services to enable people with palliative and end of life care needs to have choice in their place of care, greater access to services and improved outcomes at the end of their lives”. The purpose of this autoethnography is to share the author’s lived experience so that it might be used to improve services.


Autoethnography is employed as the research method. The author describes her experience of caring for father over the last six months of his life. She explores the tensions between the different players involved in the care of her father and the family and the internal conflict that developed within her as daughter, carer, care coordinator and doctor. Using multiple data sources, selected data entries were explored through reflexive, dyadic interviews to explore the experience and meaning in each story.


The author found that autoethnography was a powerful tool to give voice to the carer experience. Narration can be a powerful tool for capturing the authentic lived experiences of individuals and families and is a tool seldom utilised in integrated care. This account provides an insight into the author's expectations of integrated palliative care, as a designer and implementer and now an academic in integrated care and concludes with some reflections about the gap between policy and practice in palliative care services in Northern Ireland.


Autoethnography can be a powerful tool for capturing the authentic lived experiences of individuals and families and is an essential component of the quadruple aim.



The author would like to thank Prof Amanda Phelan, Professor in Ageing and Community Nursing, TCD for her invaluable assistance and friendship and also Dr Kathryn Mannix for her advice, wisdom and kindness. In particular I’d like to acknowledge my father who consented to my/our inquiry and my family who have supported me though this process.


Carroll, Á. (2020), "An autoethnography of death and dying in Northern Ireland", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 327-336.

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