DOI: 10.1111/nicc.12964 ISSN:

Challenges of delivering care to older persons in the intensive care unit: A qualitative study based on the third wave of COVID‐19 in China

Li Tang, Xiaoyu Wu, Jiuhong Li, Xia Xie, Lingzhi Huang
  • Critical Care Nursing



With the aging population and the ongoing pandemic, older persons account for a large proportion of ICU admissions. Despite numerous studies on the impact of COVID‐19 on older persons, there has been a small body of research investigating nursing practice with critically ill older patients admitted to ICU for COVID‐19.


To explore current challenges in the nursing care of older persons with severe COVID‐19 through the experience of frontline nurses.

Study Design

A qualitative descriptive design was used. In‐depth and semi‐structured interviews with 18 ICU nurses were conducted to explore the experience of providing care for older persons with severe COVID‐19 in the Omicron wave. A content analysis approach was adopted to analyse qualitative data.


Three themes emerged as follows: (1) no plan survives first contact with the enemy, (2) expectations versus Reality and (3) difficulty in providing holistic care.


Challenges could be encountered in different stages of providing care for older persons with severe COVID‐19, including the preparation and training of knowledge and skills in the early stage, the challenges posed by old age in the diagnostic and treatment stage and the challenges of psychological care and rehabilitation care.

Relevance to Clinical Practice

With the regular prevention and control of COVID‐19, our study provides guidance for establishing measures (training courses of ICU nurses) to improve the nursing quality of older persons with severe COVID‐19.

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