AimTo identify the meaning of the waiting area based on the experiences of haemodialysis patients and their carers and to develop an optimal social environment for meaningful nursing care. BackgroundHaemodialysis patients require treatment three times a week and they and their carers spend much of their time in waiting areas, where they experience a unique culture. Limited qualitative research has focused on the culture of the waiting area among haemodialysis patients in South Korea. DesignA qualitative study using an ethnographic approach. MethodsEighteen participants were recruited in a hospital waiting area. The data were collected via participant observations and interviews from 24 November 2015-21 April 2016. Spradley's research sequence was employed to analyse the data. ResultsThree themes were identified that describe the unique characteristics of the waiting area: sharing information and consoling, inhabiting a separate area of ease and discomfort and experiencing vigilance and unsure stillness. The overarching theme was a boundary space that presented antithetical and dynamic patterns. ConclusionsThis study contributes to a better understanding of the distinct culture experienced by haemodialysis patients in the waiting area and the findings can help nurses deliver more meaningful care. Nursing interventions germane to psychological and emotional support and applicable nursing education should be seriously considered for haemodialysis waiting rooms.