People with advanced dementia living in care homes can experience social death before their physical death. Social death occurs when a person is no longer recognised as being an active agent within their relationships. A shift is required in how we perceive people with advanced dementia so that the ways they continue to be active in their relationships are noticed. Paying attention to embodied and interembodied selfhood broadens the scope and opportunities for relationships with people with advanced dementia, acting as a counter to social death. This has the potential to improve the quality of care, including end of life care, of people with advanced dementia in care homes. This study examined the role of embodied and interembodied selfhood within care-giving/care-receiving relationships in a specialist dementia care home. Empirical findings and their implications for the development of relationship-centred care and the Senses Framework in care homes are discussed.
OBJECTIVE: Dependency on others can compromise self-determination for older persons in the palliative phase in residential care. Family members can support the residents' self-determination but may also jeopardize it. Quality of care (QoC) is linked to respecting the autonomy of the residents and providing opportunities to participate in decision-making. The aim of the study was to provide knowledge about residents' and family members' perceptions of QoC and self-determination and to detect possible differences between their experiences.
METHOD: This cross-sectional study used an abbreviated version of the questionnaire, Quality from the Patients' Perspective, with additional items about decision-making. Wilcoxon's signed rank test was used to analyze the perception of QoC and to detect differences between residents' and family members' perceptions.
RESULT: QoC was perceived as lower than preferred in the majority of items and there was a high level of agreement between residents and family members. Lowest mean values in QoC were found in: support when feeling lonely; support when feeling worry, anxiety or fear; and staff's time to talk to the residents. Decision-making in everyday life and in life-changing situations showed that neither residents nor family members trusted staff to know about the residents' preferences.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Broad improvements are needed, especially in psychosocial care. Several of the negative outcomes on QoC and self-determination seem to derive from a focus on practical tasks and the lack of trustful relationships between residents and staff. An early implementation of palliative care, with a focus on what brings quality to each resident's life, could facilitate QoC and self-determination, in both everyday life and at the end of life.
Objective: To investigate clinicians' perspectives on the factors that shape the process of advance care planning in a nursing home context.
Design: Interviews. Latent qualitative content analysis.
Setting: Nine nursing homes in Sweden. Subjects: 14 physicians and 11 nurses working at nursing homes.
Main outcome measures:
Participants' views on advance care planning (ACP) at nursing homes.
Results: The analysis of the interviews resulted in four manifest categories: Exploration of preferences and views, e.g. exploring patient wishes regarding end-of-life issues and restrictions in care at an early stage, and sensitivity to patient's readiness to discuss end-of-life issues; Integration of preferences and views, e.g. integration of patient's preferences and staff's and family member's views; Decision & documentation of the ACP, e.g. clear documentation in patient's medical records that are up-to-date and available for staff caring for the patient, and Implementation & re-evaluation of the ACP, e.g. nurse following up after ACP-appointment to confirm the content of the documented ACP. The latent theme, Establishing beneficence - defending oneself against tacit accusations of maleficence, emerged as a deeper meaning of all the four (manifest) parts of the ACP-process
Conclusion: This study stresses the importance of involving patients, family members, and the team in the work with advance care planning in nursing homes. In addition, clear medical record documentation and proficiency in end-of-life communication related to advance care planning for physicians as well as nurses may also be factors that significantly shape advance care planning in a nursing home context. Key Points Advance care planning can help patients to receive care in line with their preferences and can positively impact quality of end-of-life care. Our results describe a process consisting of four manifest categories and one latent theme constituting the process of advance care planning, that may be considered in education in advance care planning. The significance of nurses and physicians perceiving beneficence as well as fear of accusations of maleficence are important factors to contemplate. The study has implications for healthcare staff caring for patients near the end of their lives, in particular patients in nursing homes.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the quality of end of life care in long-term care (LTC) for residents with different diagnostic trajectories. The aim of this study was to compare symptoms before death in LTC for those with cancer, dementia or chronic illness.
METHODS: After-death prospective staff survey of resident deaths with random cluster sampling in 61 representative LTC facilities across New Zealand (3709 beds). Deaths (n = 286) were studied over 3 months in each facility. Standardised questionnaires - Symptom Management (SM-EOLD) and Comfort Assessment in End of life with Dementia (CAD-EOLD) - were administered to staff after the resident’s death.
RESULTS: Primary diagnoses at the time of death were dementia (49%), chronic illness (30%), cancer (17%), and dementia and cancer (4%). Residents with cancer had more community hospice involvement (30%) than those with chronic illness (12%) or dementia (5%). There was no difference in mean SM-EOLD in the last month of life by diagnosis (cancer 26.9 (8.6), dementia 26.5(8.2), chronic illness 26.9(8.6). Planned contrast analyses of individual items found people with dementia had more pain and those with cancer had less anxiety. There was no difference in mean CAD-EOLD scores in the week before death by diagnosis (total sample 33.7(SD 5.2), dementia 34.4(SD 5.2), chronic illness 33.0(SD 5.1), cancer 33.3(5.1)). Planned contrast analyses showed significantly more physical symptoms for those with dementia and chronic illness in the last month of life than those with cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, symptoms in the last week and month of life did not vary by diagnosis. However, sub-group planned contrast analyses found those with dementia and chronic illness experienced more physical distress during the last weeks and months of life than those with cancer. These results highlight the complex nature of LTC end of life care that requires an integrated gerontology/palliative care approach.
BACKGROUND: End-of-life care practices in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) are the focus of growing attention in Europe, due to rapidly increasing number of older persons living in LTCFs. The knowledge about end-of-life discussions or existence of written advance directives in the European LTCFs is scarce. This study's aim is to investigate the prevalence of written advance directives and their sociodemographic associates, among recently deceased LTCF residents, in six European countries.
METHODS: Data from the European Union-funded PACE database were collected from 322 LTCFs in six European countries in 2014. The assessments were performed by using two questionnaires designed for LTCF administrative staff and for staff member.LTCFs were selected within each country by using proportional stratified random sampling procedure. Facilities with certain types and sizes were included from each country.Multilevel multivariate analyses were performed to evaluate associations between written advance directives and selected predictors.
RESULTS: In total, 32.5 % of the 1384 deceased LTCF residents had a written advance directive with a range from 0% to 77 % between countries. The proportion of the most common advance directive, 'Do not resuscitate in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest (DNR)', varied correspondingly from 0% to 75%.LTCF type (OR 2.86 95% CI 1.59 to 5.23) and capability of expressing at the time of admission (OR 3.26 95% CI 2.26 to 4.71) were the independent predictors for advance directive. Residents living in LTCFs where physician was available were less likely to have advance directive compared with residents from LTCFs where physician was not available.
CONCLUSION: Extensive differences for prevalence of written advance directive exist between countries among older LTCF residents in Europe. Timely and appropriate response to LTCF resident's health needs and preferences efforts advance care planning.
In Norway, approximately 50% of older people die in nursing homes (NH). Holistic care and pharmacological management are key factors in quality at the end of life. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to describe the use of opioids in an NH during a 5-year period. We focused on palliative care, symptoms, and suffering during the last 3 days before death. Data were collected from spring 2013 to spring 2018. We used the interRAI assessment instrument annually and when the resident died. We conducted a semi-structured interview with nurses on duty at the deathbed. At the time of death, the residents had an average age of 88.9 years and an average stay of 2.9 years (N = 100). At the first assessment, 19% of the residents used 1 or more type of opioids. On the day of death, 55% had an active prescription for opioids, mainly as subcutaneous injections. The results illustrate the different uses of opioids, including managing pain, dyspnoea, sedation, for comfort, as a prophylaxis, or a combination of reasons. Cancer- and cardiovascular diagnoses were the strongest predictor for using morphine (P < 0.05). Identification of the residents’ needs for opioids is a challenge for palliative care nurses, both ethically and legally.
Context: Advance care planning (ACP) documentation needs to be available at the point of care to guide and inform medical treatment decision-making.
Objective: To examine concordance between self-reported completion of ACP documentation and self-reported storage of the documentation at the person's current point of care with the availability of the documentation in that person's health record.
Methods: A national multicenter audit of health records and a self-report survey of eligible audit participants in 51 Australian health and residential aged care services. The audit assessed availability of ACP documentation in the health record, whereas the survey assessed self-reported completion and storage of the ACP documentation at the person's current place of care. To ascertain concordance, survey and audit data were cross-tabulated and concordance rates and kappa statistics were calculated overall and by health care sector and ACP documentation type.
Results: The audit included 2285 people, of whom 1082 were eligible for the survey. Of 507 who completed the survey (response rate = 47%), 272 (54%) reported completing ACP documentation, of whom 130 (48%) had documentation identified in the audit. Conversely, 39 of 235 people (17%) who reported not completing ACP documentation had documentation identified (concordance rate = 64%; = 0.303, P < .001). The concordance rate increased to 79% when self-reported storage of ACP documentation at the person's current point of care was compared with the existence of the document in their health record ( = 0.510, P < .001). Concordance varied by health care setting and type of ACP documentation.
Conclusion: Discrepancies exist between self-reported completion of ACP documentation and the presence of these documents in the health records of older adults, representing a significant patient safety issue. Public education campaigns and improvements to systems for document storage and accessibility are required to support person-centered medical and end-of-life care.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the rate of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) and do-not-hospitalize (DNH) orders among residents newly admitted into long-term care homes. We also assessed the association between DNR and DNH orders with hospital admissions, deaths in hospital, and survival.
DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Admissions in all 640 publicly funded long-term care homes in Ontario, Canada, between January 1, 2010 and March 1, 2012 (n = 49,390).
MEASURES: We examined if a DNR and/or DNH was recorded on resident's admission assessment. All residents were followed until death, discharge, or end of study to ascertain rates of several outcomes, including death and hospitalization, controlling for resident characteristics.
RESULTS: Upon admission, 60.7% of residents were recorded to have a DNR and 14.8% a DNH order. Those who were older, female, widowed, lived in rural facilities, lived in higher income neighborhoods prior to entry, had higher health instability or cognitive impairment, and spoke English or French were more likely to receive a DNR or DNH. Survival time was only slightly shorter for those with a DNR and DNH with a mean of 145 and 133 days, respectively, vs 160 and 153 days for those without a DNR and DNH. After controlling for age, sex, rurality, neighborhood income, marital status, health instability, cognitive performance score, and multimorbidity, DNR and DNH were associated with an odds ratio of 0.57 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53-0.62] and 0.41 (95% CI 0.37-0.46) for dying in hospital, respectively. Those with a DNR and DNH, after adjustment, had an incidence rate ratio of 0.87 (95% CI 0.83-0.90) and 0.70 (95% CI 0.67-0.73), respectively, days spent in hospital.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study outlines identifiable factors influencing whether residents have a DNR and/or DNH order upon admission. Both orders led to lower rates, but not absolute avoidance, of hospitalizations near and at death.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical Quality, Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care (OPTIMISTIC) project is a successful, multicomponent demonstration project to reduce potentially avoidable hospitalizations of long-stay nursing facility residents. Systematic advance care planning (ACP) is a core component of the intervention, based on research suggesting ACP is associated with decreased hospitalizations of nursing facility residents. The purpose of this study was to describe associations between ACP documentation resulting from the OPTIMISTIC intervention and hospitalizations.
DESIGN: Specially trained project nurses were embedded in 19 nursing facilities and systematically engaged in ACP as part of a larger demonstration project.
PARTICIPANTS: Residents (n = 1482) enrolled in the demonstration project for a minimum of 30 days between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.
MEASUREMENTS: ACP status: (1) Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) comfort measures or do not hospitalize (DNH) orders; (2) ACP orders with no hospitalization limit (eg, code status only); and (3) no ACP (potentially avoidable and all-cause hospitalizations per 1000 resident days).
RESULTS: Residents with POST comfort measures/DNH orders (33.2% or n = 493) were less likely than residents with no ACP (14.7% or n = 218) to experience a potentially avoidable hospitalization (P = .001) or all-cause hospitalization (P = .001). These differences became statistically nonsignificant after adjusting for age, functional status, and cognitive functioning.
CONCLUSION: In this successful multicomponent demonstration project to reduce potentially avoidable hospitalizations, ACP outcomes were not associated with hospitalization rates of nursing facility residents after adjusting for resident characteristics. These findings highlight the challenge of measuring the contributions of individual components of complex, multicomponent interventions. Associations between lower hospitalization rates and ACP completion may be influenced by contextual factors, such as clinical expertise and resources to manage acute conditions leading to hospitalization, in addition to interventions to increase ACP.
BACKGROUND: Nursing homes are becoming a common site where delivering end-of-life care for older adults. They often represent the junction between the curative and the palliative phase.
AIM: To identify the elements that nursing home residents' family carers perceive as good end-of-life care and develop a conceptual model of good end-of-life care according to the family perspective.
DESIGN: Systematic review (PROSPERO no. 95581) with meta-aggregation method.
DATA SOURCES: Five electronic databases were searched from inception between April and May 2018. Published qualitative studies (and mixed-method designs) of end-of-life care experience of nursing home family carers whose relative was dead or at the end-of-life were included. No language or temporal limits were applied.
RESULTS: In all, 18 studies met inclusion criteria. A 'life crisis' often resulted in a changed need of care, and the transition towards palliative care was sustained by a 'patient-centered environment'. Family carers described good end-of-life care as providing resident basic care and spiritual support; recognizing and treating symptoms; assuring continuity in care; respecting resident's end-of-life wishes; offering environmental, emotional and psychosocial support; keeping family informed; promoting family understanding; and establishing a partnership with family carers by involving and guiding them in a shared decision-making. These elements improved the quality of end-of-life of both residents and their family, thus suggesting a common ground between good end-of-life care and palliative care.
CONCLUSION: The findings provide a family-driven framework to guide a sensitive and compassionate transition towards palliative care in nursing home.
Between 2014 and 2017, four patients with widespread cancer were referred to a home palliative care team from a hospital in Oviedo (Spain) with subcutaneous elastomeric infusion pump containing 180-260 mg/day of morphine for previously uncontrolled pain. 3-4 rotations were performed over 5-11 days, gradually substituting morphine for oral methadone (three times a day) to minimise the risks of rapid conversion, with a highly variable final subcutaneous morphine:oral methadone ratio (5:1 to 17:1), guided by the absence of pain, and to enhance the patient's functional capacity avoiding device dependence. The final methadone dose varied between 15 and 39 mg/day. There was daily telephone supervision and visits every 2-4 days. Patient demise occurred 56, 111, 168 and 350 days following the opioid conversion, and methadone was maintained until then. In all cases and prior to concluding the rotation, pain was controlled and sleepiness had subsided.
OBJECTIVE: To examine perceptions and experiences regarding providing spiritual care at the end of life of elderly care physicians practising in nursing homes in the Netherlands, and factors associated with spiritual care provision.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was sent to a representative sample of 642 elderly care physicians requesting information about their last patient who died and the spiritual care they provided. We compared their general perception of spiritual care with spiritual and other items abstracted from the literature and variables associated with the physicians' provision of spiritual care. Self-reported reasons for providing spiritual care were analysed with qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: The response rate was 47.2%. Almost half (48.4%) provided spiritual end-of-life care to the last resident they cared for. Half (51.8%) identified all 15 spiritual items, but 95.4% also included psychosocial items in their perception of spirituality and 49.1% included other items. Physicians who included more non-spiritual items reported more often that they provided spiritual care, as did more religious physicians and those with additional training in palliative care. Reasons for providing spiritual care included a request by the resident or the relatives, resident's religiousness, fear of dying and involvement of a healthcare chaplain.
CONCLUSION: Most physicians perceived spirituality as a broad concept and this increased self-reported spiritual caregiving. Religious physicians and those trained in palliative care may experience fewer barriers to providing spiritual care. Additional training in reflecting upon the physician's own perception of spirituality and training in multidisciplinary spiritual caregiving may contribute to the quality of end-of-life care for nursing home residents.
To individually plan end-of-life care, open communication about a person's preferences and attitudes toward the end of life can facilitate dignity and quality of life in patients and relatives. To improve communication, structured guiding tools might be used as door openers. However, most tools focus on care preferences and decisions without assessing the person's underlying attitudes in detail. This study aims to get insights into specific requirements and conditions for communication about the end of life in various end-of-life care settings. Four focus groups were conducted with volunteers and professionals from nursing and psychosocial care (16 females, 2 males) working in hospice and palliative care and long-term care settings in Germany. A semistructured interview guideline on experiences and aspects associated with end-of-life conversations was used. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by a content analytic approach. Having end-of-life discussions primarily depended on a pleasant atmosphere, trusting bonds between conversation partners, and professional attitudes of staff members. Nursing home staff felt obligated to initiate conversations, but some reported insecurities doing so. Starting "early," including relatives, and having continuous discussions seemed beneficial for end-of-life conversations. Implementing conversations into existing care structures and using low-threshold impulses to start conversations were helpful. Individualized approaches should be preferred. Each staff member can be a partner in detailed conversations about end-of-life attitudes, but some felt unprepared doing so. Further skill training concerning end-of-life discussions is needed. Communication might be facilitated by open-format tools using low-threshold impulses when conditions of the care setting are considered.
End-of-life (EOL) care conferences have an important role in promoting EOL care in nursing homes. However, the details of the conferences remain poorly understood. A Japanese prefecture-wide survey was conducted to investigate the factors involved in such conferences that contribute to an increase in the amount of EOL care. One hundred fifty-three nursing homes performed the conferences. The outcome was the amount of EOL care provided in nursing homes after adjusting for the facility beds in 2014. We investigated the factors of staff experience with EOL care, frequency of the conferences, years the conferences were conducted, review conferences after EOL care, and professional participants in the conferences. The multivariate analysis revealed significant associations between EOL care in nursing homes and nurses' experience with EOL care (adjusted ß coefficient 2.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52 ~ 5.22, p = 0.017), more than 5 years of continuous conferences (adjusted ß coefficient 3.8, 95% CI 0.46 ~ 7.05, p = 0.026), and family participation (adjusted ßcoefficient 4.0, 95% CI 7.5 ~ 0.48, p = 0.026). In conclusion, the continuation of conferences and enrollment of the nurse with experience in EOL care may promote EOL care in nursing homes, while family enrollment in conferences may decrease EOL care in nursing homes. EOL care conferences in nursing homes should be continuously performed by staff, with an experienced nurse undertaking the task of information sharing before discussing EOL care with the patients' families.
Family members are often involved in medical decision-making on behalf of a nursing home resident. Prospect theory provides a framework for understanding how people weigh decisions. In the current study, prospect theory concepts are used to build understanding about how family members weigh medical decisions for an NH resident diagnosed with cancer. This is a secondary analysis of qualitative interview data from 24 family members of nursing home residents. Prospect theory concepts of gain, loss, risk, and reference point were used deductively in qualitative content analysis. Themes were developed by comparing content related to these four concepts, across the transcripts from the 24 participants. Three themes comprise the main findings, including "Don't prolong this," "A good ending is a gain," and "Experience can facilitate seeing the big picture." Prospect theory concepts applied to decisions faced by family members were useful in building an understanding of what participants considered as gains, losses, risks, and reference points. Many participants framed the medical decisions within the larger context of the resident's life and concluded that jeopardizing the chance for a peaceful dying process was too high a risk. Medical interventions were selected or avoided because of the impact on a comfortable dying process; considered a gain. Advance care planning discussions and goals of care discussions can benefit by directly addressing what residents/patients, families, and health practitioners consider outcomes worth pursuing and avoiding.
INTRODUCTION: Standard advance care planning practice is yet to be established in Mainland, China, and little is known about feeding tube preferences among Chinese nursing home residents. The purpose of the study was to examine preferences for feeding tube use and its predictors among frail and cognitively competent nursing home residents in Wuhan, China.
METHOD: A cross-sectional sample of 682 nursing home residents were interviewed face-to-face using a structured questionnaire from 2012 to 2014.
RESULTS: A total of 54.5% of participants would accept feeding tube. Participants who reported greater quality of life (odds ratio [OR] = 2.67), having health insurance (OR = 2.09) were more willing to accept feeding tube. Participants with greater impairment in physical health (OR = 0.94) were less willing to accept it.
DISCUSSION: Health care professionals need to routinely assess nursing home residents' feeding tube preferences. It is imperative to consider sociocultural perspectives in understanding Chinese older adults' decision making for end-of-life care.
BACKGROUND: While the importance of hospice care education in nursing homes is recognized, the volume of research on the specific educational needs of caregivers in hospice care in nursing homes is still lacking. This study aimed to assess educational needs in hospice care among the nursing home staff in South Korea, and to examine factors related to their education needs.
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional descriptive study. A total of 324 nursing staff members recruited from 15 nursing homes in South Korea participated in this cross-sectional study. Measurements included demographic information, organizational characteristics, education experiences in hospice care, and educational needs in hospice care based on questionnaires developed by Whittaker and colleagues. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, t-test, ANOVA, and multiple regression techniques.
RESULTS: In the present study, 70.6% (n = 218) of respondents reported that they had previous experience with education in hospice care and expressed their continued need for further education. The provision of care in the last days of a patient’s life was the most frequent issue identified by nursing home staff for further education. Factors predicting educational needs in hospice care included provision of hospice care services in nursing homes and the existence of hospice care team meetings in the institution. Multiple regression analysis resulted in 14.3% of explained variance in the educational needs of nursing home staff in hospice care.
CONCLUSIONS: Nursing home staff members showed high levels of need for training in hospice care. Therefore, it is imperative for nursing home administrators to initiate and support well-suited hospice care education for multi-level care workers on an ongoing basis.
OBJECTIVES: To examine family caregivers' experiences with end-of-life care for nursing home residents with dementia and associations with the residents dying peacefully.
DESIGN: A secondary data analysis of family caregiver data collected in the observational Dutch End of Life in Dementia (DEOLD) study between 2007 and 2010.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Data were collected at 34 Dutch nursing homes (2799 beds) representing the nation. We included 252 reports from bereaved family members of nursing home residents with dementia.
MEASURES: The primary outcome was dying peacefully, assessed by family members using an item from the Quality of Dying in Long-term Care instrument. Unpleasant experiences with end-of-life care were investigated using open-ended questions. Overall satisfaction with end-of-life care was assessed with the End-of-Life Satisfaction With Care (EOLD-SWC) scale, and families' appraisal of decision making was measured with the Decision Satisfaction Inventory. Associations were investigated with multilevel linear regression analyses using generalized estimating equations.
RESULTS: Families' reports of unpleasant experiences translated into 2 themes: neglect and lack of respect. Neglect involved facing inaccessibility, disinterest, or discontinuity of relations, and negligence in tailored care and information. Lack of respect involved perceptions of being purposefully disregarded, an insensitive approach towards resident and family, noncompliance with agreements, and violations of privacy. Unpleasant experiences with end-of-life care were negatively associated with families' perceptions of the resident dying peacefully. Families' assessment of their relative dying peacefully was positively associated with satisfaction with end-of-life care and decision making.
CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Families' reports of unpleasant experiences with end-of-life care may inform practice to improve perceived quality of dying of their loved ones. Humane and compassionate care and attention from physicians and other staff for resident and family may facilitate recollections of a peaceful death.
BACKGROUND: Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) can help ensure continuity of do-not-resuscitate (DNR) decisions and other care preferences after discharge from the hospital.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to improve POLST completion rates for patients with DNR orders who were being discharged to a nursing home (NH) after an acute hospitalization at our institution.
DESIGN: We implemented an interprofessional quality improvement intervention involving education, communication skills, and nursing and case manager cues regarding POLST use. The intervention was later augmented with performance feedback and financial incentives for resident physicians who completed a POLST at NH transfer.
MEASURE: Whether patients with DNR orders at hospital discharge have a POLST at NH transfer.
RESULTS: The intervention resulted in increased POLST use for patients with DNR orders discharged to NH: baseline 25/65 (38%), intervention 36/71 (51%), and augmented intervention 44/63 (70%) (p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: An interdisciplinary intervention can increase POLST use for patients with DNR orders transitioning to NH. Multiple components, including financial incentives and performance feedback, may be needed to effect statistically significant change.
BACKGROUND: As modern medicine extends the life expectancy of patients with life-limiting illnesses and health system resource pressures intensify, palliative care physicians increasingly need to transfer stable patients from specialist palliative care units to nursing homes. The experience of palliative care physicians in decision-making and communicating with patients and families about the need for this transition is underexplored in the literature.
AIM: This study aimed to explore the experiences of and communication techniques used by palliative care physicians as they consider and discuss nursing home placements for their patients.
DESIGN: A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews was used. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Purposive sampling was used to recruit 18 Australian palliative care physicians known for their interest or strength in communication skills across a range of palliative care settings.
RESULTS: Themes emerged from domains of physician experience (abandonment, systemic pressures, prognostic uncertainty, exacerbation of loss, and restoring resilience) and communication strategies (forecasting, checking in, provide context, and acknowledging grief).
CONCLUSION: This study highlights the tension Australian palliative care physicians experience when transferring palliative care patients to nursing home and the complexity involved in decision-making. Physicians identified several communication strategies to engage patients and families to ease the transition.