Objectives: To analyse patterns of use and costs of unscheduled National Health Service (NHS) services for people in the last year of life.
Design: Retrospective cohort analysis of national datasets with application of standard UK costings.
Participants and setting: All people who died in Scotland in 2016 aged 18 or older (N=56 407).
Main outcome measures: Frequency of use of the five unscheduled NHS services in the last 12 months of life by underlying cause of death, patient demographics, Continuous Unscheduled Pathways (CUPs) followed by patients during each care episode, total NHS and per-patient costs.
Results: 53 509 patients (94.9%) had at least one contact with an unscheduled care service during their last year of life (472 360 contacts), with 34.2% in the last month of life. By linking patient contacts during each episode of care, we identified 206 841 CUPs, with 133 980 (64.8%) starting out-of-hours. People with cancer were more likely to contact the NHS telephone advice line (63%) ( 2 (4)=1004, p<0.001) or primary care out-of-hours (62%) ( 2 (4)=1924,p<0.001) and have hospital admissions (88%) ( 2 (4)=2644, p<0.001). People with organ failure (79%) contacted the ambulance service most frequently ( 2 (4)=584, p<0.001). Demographic factors associated with more unscheduled care were older age, social deprivation, living in own home and dying of cancer. People dying with organ failure formed the largest group in the cohort and had the highest NHS costs as a group. The cost of providing services in the community was estimated at 3.9% of total unscheduled care costs despite handling most out-of-hours calls.
Conclusions: Over 90% of people used NHS unscheduled care in their last year of life. Different underlying causes of death and demographic factors impacted on initial access and subsequent pathways of care. Managing more unscheduled care episodes in the community has the potential to reduce hospital admissions and overall costs.
Background: Palliative Care Day Services (PCDS) offer supportive care to people with advanced, progressive illness who may be approaching the end of life. Despite the growth of PCDS in recent years, evidence of their costs and effects is scarce. It is important to establish the value of such services so that health and care decision-makers can make evidence-based resource allocation decisions. This study examines and estimates the costs and effects of PCDS with different service configurations in three centres across the UK in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Methods: People who had been referred to PCDS were recruited between June 2017 and September 2018. A pragmatic before-and-after descriptive cohort study design analysed data on costs and outcomes. Data on costs were collected on health and care use in the 4 weeks preceding PCDS attendance using adapted versions of the Client Service Receipt Inventory (CSRI). Outcomes, cost per attendee/day and volunteer contribution to PCDS were also estimated. Outcomes included quality of life (MQOL-E), health status (EQ-5D-5L) and capability wellbeing (ICECAP-SCM).
Results: Thirty-eight attendees were recruited and provided data at baseline and 4 weeks (centre 1: n = 8; centre 2: n = 8, centre 3: n = 22). The cost per attendee/day ranged from £121–£190 (excluding volunteer contribution) to £172–£264 (including volunteer contribution) across the three sites. Volunteering constituted between 28 and 38% of the total cost of PCDS provision. There was no significant mean change at 4 week follow-up from baseline for health and care costs (centre 1: £570, centre 2: -£1127, centre 3: £65), or outcomes: MQOL-E (centre 1: - 0.48, centre 2: 0.01, centre 3: 0.24); EQ-5D-5L (centre 1: 0.05, centre 2: 0.03, centre 3: - 0.03) and ICECAP-SCM (centre 1:0.00, centre 2: - 0.01, centre 3: 0.03). Centre costs variation is almost double per attendee when attendance rates are held constant in scenario analysis.
Conclusions: This study highlights the contribution made by volunteers to PCDS provision. There is insufficient evidence on whether outcomes improved, or costs were reduced, in the three different service configurations for PCDS. We suggest how future research may overcome some of the challenges we encountered, to better address questions of cost-effectiveness in PCDS.
Ce livre se présente sous la forme d'une invitation à découvrir la diversité des traditions funéraires dans le monde, des cercueils en cage d’Ecosse aux inhumations célestes du Tibet, en passant par les têtes momifiées de Nouvelle-Zélande et la fête des morts mexicaine.
Delirium occurs frequently at end of life. Palliative care clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are involved in community palliative care provision. Many patients prefer being cared for at home, yet managing delirium in this setting presents unique challenges, potentially resulting in emergency hospital or hospice admission. We examined the experiences and practice of palliative care CNSs managing delirium in the community; 10 interviews were undertaken. Data were analysed using the framework approach. Challenges to delirium management in the community included limited time with patients, reliance on families and access to medications. Assessment tools were not used routinely; time limited visits and inconsistent retesting were perceived barriers. Management approaches differed depending on CNSs' previous delirium education. Strategies to prevent delirium were not used. Community delirium management presents challenges; support surrounding these could be beneficial. Routine assessment tool use and delirium prevention strategies should be included in further education and research.
Objectives: This study aims to identify factors among British community-based adults associated with advance care planning engagement. Factors are then compared among six domains of wishes: medical care, spiritual and religious needs, privacy and peace, dignified care, place of death and pain relief.
Methods: Cross-sectional data were analysed from a stratified random sample of adults across Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) who were interviewed on their attitudes towards death and dying. Weighted multivariable logistic regression tested for associations with expressing any end-of-life wishes and then for each separate domain.
Results: Analysis of 2042 respondents (response rate: 53.5%) revealed those less likely to have discussed their wishes were: male, younger, born in the UK, owned their residence, had no experience working in health or social care, had no chronic conditions or disabilities, had not experienced the death of a close person in the last 5 years and feel neither comfortable nor uncomfortable or uncomfortable talking about death. Additional factors among the six domains associated with having not discussed wishes include: having less and more formal education, no religious beliefs, lower household income and living with at least one other person.
Conclusions: This study is the first to be conducted among a sample of community-dwelling British adults and the first of its kind to compare domains of end-of-life wishes. Our findings provide an understanding of social determinants which can inform a public health approach to end-of-life care that promotes advance care planning among compassionate communities.
Background: The Scottish Government’s vision for older people is that ‘Older people are valued as an asset; their voices are heard and they are supported to enjoy full and positive lives.’ In the health and social care setting in Scotland it is increasingly recognised that there is a need for careful planning of care for older patients with complex comorbidities, and that this should involve the patient where possible via a process of shared decision making (SDM).
Aim: To establish what future planning for healthcare decision making and end-of-life care was undertaken in the care of the older patients in a secondary care facility, and how much they participate in this process.
Method: An audit was conducted across four wards in the care of the older patient setting in a hospital for older patients in Scotland. Over a 2-week period, all patients’ charts (n = 82) were reviewed, and evidence was examined on whether the following documents were in place: a do not resuscitate order; an escalation of medical care plan; and an assessment of capacity/incapacity.
Results: The majority of patients (55%) had a resuscitation plan in place. An Incapacity Statement was also in place for the majority of patients who required it (90%). The escalation of medical care plan was only completed for a minority of patients, mainly those on the palliative care ward.
Conclusion: Plans for decision making around resuscitation were reasonably well developed. However, planning for other, more complex, future medical care needs was less well defined or explored with older patients.
This case report describes a pediatric hospice provider in Scotland and their experience implementing a telehospice program in response to COVID-19. Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) is the only provider of pediatric hospice care in the entire of Scotland, and we describe their experience offering pediatric telehospice. CHAS had strategically planned to implement telehospice, but COVID-19 accelerated the process. The organization evaluated its pediatric clinical and wrap-around hospice services and rapidly migrated them to a virtual environment. They creatively added new services to meet the unique needs of the entire family, who were caring for a child at end of life during COVID-19. CHAS's experience highlights the planning and implementing processes of telehospice with key lessons learned, while acknowledging the challenges inherent in using technology to deliver hospice care.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses numerous – and substantial – ethical challenges to health and healthcare. Debate continues about whether there is adequate protective equipment, testing and monitoring, and about when a vaccine might become available and social restrictions might be lifted. The thorny dilemmas posed by triage and resource allocation also attract considerable attention, particularly access to intensive care resources, should demand outstrip supply.
But the “COVID fog” clouds more than the intensive care unit. The provision and uptake of non-COVID related treatment is declining, due to the de-prioritisation of some services and interventions, alongside non-COVID patients’ fears of contracting the virus; difficult conversations are being held in suboptimal circumstances; and final farewells and death rituals have been disrupted. Healthcare personnel, meanwhile, are facing moral distress and, for some, difficulties arising from undertaking new roles in unfamiliar settings.
Objectives: To map current practice regarding discussions around resuscitation across England and Scotland in patients with cancer admitted acutely to hospital and to demonstrate the value of medical students in rapidly collecting national audit data.
Methods: Collaborators from the Macmillan medical student network collected data from 251 patient encounters across eight hospitals in England and Scotland. Data were collected to identify whether discussion regarding resuscitation was documented as having taken place during inpatient admission to acute oncology. As an audit standard, it was expected that all patients should be invited to discuss resuscitation within 24 hr of admission.
Results: Resuscitation discussions were had in 43.1% of admissions and of these 64.0% were within 24 hr; 27.6% of all admissions. 6.5% of patients had a “do not attempt resuscitation” order prior to admission with a difference noted between patients receiving palliative and curative treatment (8.5% and 0.39%, respectively, p < .05). Discussions regarding escalation of care took place in only 29.3% of admissions.
Conclusions: These data highlight deficiencies in the number of discussions regarding resuscitation that are being conducted with cancer patients that become acutely unwell. It also demonstrates the value of medical student collaboration in rapidly collecting national audit data.
OBJECTIVES: Palliative care services have, up to now, paid insufficient attention to social aspects of dying and bereavement and this has affected how patients and their families experience end of life and bereavement within their communities. New public health approaches to palliative care offer a different way forward by seeking to develop communities that support death and bereavement. Such approaches are now a priority for the majority of hospices in the UK and work with schools has been identified as a key area of work. Practice that engages schools and children on issues concerning end-of-life care is, however, underdeveloped and underdocumented. This research explored the role of hospices in working with schools to promote education and support around end-of-life and bereavement experiences.
METHODS: Action research was used to explore the potential for hospices to work with schools and engage participants in change processes. The research was conducted in 1 hospice and 2 primary schools in Scotland. Participants included children, parents and school and hospice staff.
RESULTS: Seven innovations were identified that were found to be useful for the school curriculum and the relationship between hospices, school communities and wider society. A model for integrated practice between hospices and schools is suggested.
CONCLUSIONS: This research adds to knowledge about how hospices might engage in community engagement activities that encourage school staff to develop greater openness and support around end-of-life and bereavement care for their children. This will require a rethinking of normal hospice services to also participate in community capacity building.
BACKGROUND: Key Information Summaries (KIS) were introduced throughout Scotland in 2013 so that anticipatory care plans written by general practitioners (GPs) could be routinely shared electronically and updated in real time, between GPs and providers of unscheduled and secondary care.
AIMS: We aimed to describe the current reach of anticipatory and palliative care, and to explore GPs' views on using KIS.
METHODS: We studied the primary care records of all patients who died in 2014 in 9 diverse Lothian practices. We identified if anticipatory or palliative care had been started, and if so how many weeks before death and which aspects of care had been documented. We interviewed 10 GPs to understand barriers and facilitating factors.
RESULTS: Overall, 60% of patients were identified for a KIS, a median of 18 }weeks before death. The numbers identified were highest for patients with cancer, with 75% identified compared with 66% of those dying with dementia/frailty and only 41% dying from organ failure. Patients were more likely to die outside hospital if they had a KIS. GPs identified professional, patient and societal challenges in identifying patients for palliative care, especially those with non-cancer diagnoses.
CONCLUSIONS: GPs are identifying patients for anticipatory and palliative care more equitably across the different disease trajectories and earlier in the disease process than they were previously identifying patients specifically for palliative care. However, many patients still lack care planning, particularly those dying with organ failure.
BACKGROUND: Care home residents are increasingly frail with complex health and social care needs. Their transfer to hospital at the end-of-life can be associated with unwanted interventions and distress. However, hospitals do enable provision of care that some residents wish to receive. We aimed to explore the factors that influence hospital admission of care home residents who then died in hospital.
METHODS: This study combined in-depth case note review of care home residents dying in two Scottish teaching hospitals during a 6-month period and semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 26 care home staff and two relatives.
RESULTS: During the 6-month period, 109 care home residents died in hospital. Most admissions occurred out-of-hours (69%) and most were due to a sudden event or acute change in clinical condition (72%). Length of stay in hospital before death was short, with 42% of deaths occurring within 3 days. Anticipatory Care Planning (ACP) regarding hospital admission was documented in 44%.Care home staff wanted to care for residents who were dying; however, uncertain trajectories of decline, acute events, challenges of ACP, relationship with family and lack of external support impeded this.
CONCLUSIONS: Managing acute changes on the background of uncertain trajectories is challenging in care homes. Enhanced support is required to improve and embed ACP in care homes and to provide rapid, 24 hours-a-day support to manage difficult symptoms and acute changes.
OBJECTIVES: There has been a recent drive to embed rehabilitation within palliative care. The concept of rehabilitative palliative care has been advocated to help patients preserve function and independence, through greater patient enablement and self-management. Such an approach requires engagement from all members of the palliative care team. There is a lack of understanding of such viewpoints. The objective of this research was to explore hospice-based palliative care professionals' understanding and perceptions of rehabilitation.
METHODS: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted. Eighteen hospice-based healthcare professionals were recruited from a hospice in central Scotland. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.
RESULTS: Overall, participants clearly articulated the underlying values and benefits of rehabilitative palliative care. Emphasis was placed on ensuring that rehabilitation was appropriately tailored to each individual patient. There was more ambiguity regarding the pragmatic implementation of rehabilitative palliative care, with a number of barriers and facilitators identified.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that hospice-based palliative care professionals would be receptive to further implementation of rehabilitative palliative care. A lack of conceptual clarity among palliative care professionals may be a barrier to the effective implementation of rehabilitative palliative care. At an organisational level, this would require clarification of the approach, and additional training involving all members of the multidisciplinary team.
Sur les bords du Loch Ness, Willy, un jeune Ecossais, tente de composer une complainte pour rendre hommage à son père. Pourtant, il n'est pas très doué et les sons qui s'échappent de sa cornemuse n'ont rien de mélodieux. Sa pauvreté et ses piètres qualités de musicien font aussi de lui le souffre-douleur des enfants du village. Mais un matin, alors qu'il se désespère, un cygne s'approche...
BACKGROUND: Electronic care coordination systems, known as the Key Information Summary (KIS) in Scotland, enable the creation of shared electronic records available across healthcare settings. A KIS provides clinicians with essential information to guide decision making for people likely to need emergency or out-of-hours care.
AIM: To estimate the proportion of people with an advanced progressive illness with a KIS by the time of death, to examine when planning information is documented, and suggest improvements for electronic care coordination systems.
DESIGN AND SETTING: This was a mixed-methods study involving 18 diverse general practices in Scotland.
METHOD: Retrospective review of medical records of patients who died in 2017, and semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals were conducted.
RESULTS: Data on 1304 decedents were collected. Of those with an advanced progressive illness (79%, n = 1034), 69% (n = 712) had a KIS. These were started a median of 45 weeks before death. People with cancer were most likely to have a KIS (80%, n = 288), and those with organ failure least likely (47%, n = 125). Overall, 68% (n = 482) of KIS included resuscitation status and 55% (n = 390) preferred place of care. People with a KIS were more likely to die in the community compared to those without one (61% versus 30%). Most KIS were considered useful/highly useful. Up-to-date free-text information within the KIS was valued highly.
CONCLUSION: In Scotland, most people with an advanced progressive illness have an electronic care coordination record by the time of death. This is an achievement. To improve further, better informal carer information, regular updating, and a focus on generating a KIS for people with organ failure is warranted.
BACKGROUND: Global annual deaths are rising. It is essential to examine where future deaths may occur to facilitate decisions regarding future service provision and resource allocation.
AIMS: To project where people will die from 2017 to 2040 in an ageing country with advanced integrated palliative care, and to prioritise recommendations based on these trends.
METHODS: Population-based trend analysis of place of death for people that died in Scotland (2004-2016) and projections using simple linear modelling (2017-2040); Transparent Expert Consultation to prioritise recommendations in response to projections.
RESULTS: Deaths are projected to increase by 15.9% from 56,728 in 2016 (32.8% aged 85+ years) to 65,757 deaths in 2040 (45% aged 85+ years). Between 2004 and 2016, proportions of home and care home deaths increased (19.8-23.4% and 14.5-18.8%), while the proportion of hospital deaths declined (58.0-50.1%). If current trends continue, the numbers of deaths at home and in care homes will increase, and two-thirds will die outside hospital by 2040. To sustain current trends, priorities include: 1) to increase and upskill a community health and social care workforce through education, training and valuing of care work; 2) to build community care capacity through informal carer support and community engagement; 3) to stimulate a realistic public debate on death, dying and sustainable funding.
CONCLUSION: To sustain current trends, health and social care provision in the community needs to grow to support nearly 60% more people at the end-of-life by 2040; otherwise hospital deaths will increase.
Background: Palliative care aims to support people to live actively until death. A rehabilitative approach which includes goal setting could be an important way of achieving this. Goal setting is well established in best practice guidelines for palliative care. However little is known about how the process of goal setting actually happens in practice, especially from patients’ points of view. We aimed to investigate patients’ expectations, experience and perceptions of goal setting in one hospice.
Methods: We conducted 15 semi-structured interviews with a sample of patients who had been admitted to a Scottish hospice for symptom control. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using Framework Analysis.
Results: Participants understood and valued goal setting but did not always share their goals with hospice staff. These were often participants’ own personal activity-based goals that they worked on in parallel, but not always in partnership with hospice professionals. Participants were able to adapt their goals as their situation changed.
Conclusions: Our findings revealed a gap between the goals that participants identified and worked towards compared with those that participants perceived the professionals focussed on. As a result, opportunities were missed for patients and professionals to work together to achieve goals.
In the UK, life extending, end-of-life (EoL) treatments are an exception to standard cost-per-quality-adjusted life year (QALY) thresholds. This implies that greater value is placed on gaining these QALYs, than QALYs gained by the majority of other patient groups treated for anything else in the health system, even for other EoL contexts (such as quality of life (QoL) improvements alone). This paper reports a Person Trade-Off (PTO) study to test whether studies that find societal support for prioritising EoL life extensions can be explained by the severity, in terms of prospective QALYs loss, of the non-terminal comparator scenarios. Eight health scenarios were designed depicting i) QoL improvements for non-EoL temporary (T-QoL) and chronic (C-QoL) health problems and ii) QoL improvements and life extensions (LEs) for EoL health problems. Preferences were elicited from a quota sample of 901 Scottish respondents in 2016 using PTO techniques via Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI). Our results indicate that there is little evidence to suggest that the severity of non-EoL comparator scenarios influence preferences for EoL treatments. Respondents do not appear to have a preference for EoL over non-EoL health gains; instead there is some indication that non-EoL health gains are preferred, particularly when compared to EoL-LE health gains. Comparing between QoL and life extending EoL scenarios, our results suggest QoL improvements are preferred to life extensions. Overall, results challenge current UK EoL policy which gives additional weight to EoL health gains, particularly EoL life extensions in the case of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
BACKGROUND: Goal setting is recognised as an important way of supporting people to live as actively as possible until death. However, there is little agreement about how goal setting should be handled or delivered by health professionals in everyday practice.
AIM: To investigate health-care practitioners' understanding and practice of patient-centred goal setting in a hospice.
METHODS: A comparative case study of 10 healthcare practitioners in one hospice. Non-participant observations (n=28), semi-structured interviews (n=10) and case-note analysis (n=67) were undertaken. Data were analysed using framework analysis.
RESULTS: Participants viewed goal setting as part of routine practice. However, goal setting focused around what was seen as important from the health practitioner's perspective, rather than being patient-centred. Participants' goal-setting practice was implicit and opportunities to support patients to pursue goals were missed. Participants emphasised problem solving and alleviating symptoms rather than focusing on patient priorities and establishing patient-centred goals.
CONCLUSION: While goal setting is valued, it is practiced in an implicit, practitioner-centred and inconsistent manner. A more explicit, person-centred goal setting process may support practitioners more consistently in helping patients to identify their priorities and enhance their quality of life.
OBJECTIVES: Patients with indicators for palliative care, such as those with advanced life-limiting conditions, are at risk of futile cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Patients at risk of futile CPR could benefit from anticipatory care planning (ACP); however, the proportion of OHCA patients with indicators for palliative care is unknown. This study quantifies the extent of palliative care indicators and risk of CPR futility in OHCA patients.
METHODS: A retrospective medical record review was performed on all OHCA patients presenting to an emergency department (ED) in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2015. The risk of CPR futility was stratified using the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool. Patients with 0-2 indicators had a 'low risk' of futile CPR; 3-4 indicators had an 'intermediate risk'; 5+ indicators had a 'high risk'.
RESULTS: Of the 283 OHCA patients, 12.4% (35) had a high risk of futile CPR, while 16.3% (46) had an intermediate risk and 71.4% (202) had a low risk. 84.0% (68) of intermediate-to-high risk patients were pronounced dead in the ED or ED step-down ward; only 2.5% (2) of these patients survived to discharge.
CONCLUSIONS: Up to 30% of OHCA patients are being subjected to advanced resuscitation despite having at least three indicators for palliative care. More than 80% of patients with an intermediate-to-high risk of CPR futility are dying soon after conveyance to hospital, suggesting that ACP can benefit some OHCA patients. This study recommends optimising emergency treatment planning to help reduce inappropriate CPR attempts.