End of life and diversity in nursing homes


Nursing homes are increasingly becoming dying institutions for very elderly persons in need of care. This study examines how the diversity of modern societies - that is, the increasing variety of ways of life - is affecting how the end of life is handled in nursing homes.

Project description (completed research project)

When nursing home residents are no longer completely able to express their wishes and needs for a "good dying", the nursing staff in particular takes on a supporting role. For the nursing homes, there is also in today’s society a necessity to deal with the marked diversity of residents and personnel, especially those with an immigration background.


This study aims to throw light on the social actions and the cultural interpretations of “good dying” in nursing homes. It will focus on how nursing homes handle social diversity, especially in the immigration context. Here the study will examine how communitisation and individuality take shape. The method will be an open ethnographic research strategy. The study will be conducted in three types of nursing home units that exhibit different forms of communitisation. The assumption is that the different forms of communitisation will produce different handling of the end of life.


The study will gain a better understanding of how social diversity structures the end of life in nursing homes, and how the persons involved interact. This understanding will contribute towards deriving in the present a set of elements of professional competency and the corresponding bases for a good end of life.

Original title

'Doing death' and 'doing diversity' in nursing homes

Project leader

  • Prof. Dr. Heinzpeter Znoj, Institut für Sozialanthropologie der Universität Bern
  • Dr. Corina Salis Gross, Institut für Sozialanthropologie der Universität Bern



Further information on this content


Dr. Corina Salis Gross Institut für Sozialanthropologie der Universität Bern Länggassstrasse 49a 3000 Bern 9 +41 31 631 36 33

Products of the project