Context: Digital health offers innovative mechanisms to engage in palliative care, yet digital systems are typically designed for individual users, rather than integrating the patient’s caregiving “social convoy” (i.e. family members, friends, neighbors, formal caregiving supports) to maximize benefit. As older adults with serious illness increasingly rely on the support of others, there is a need to foster effective integration of the social convoy in digitally supported palliative care.
Objectives: Conduct a qualitative study examining patient, social convoy, and health care provider perspectives on digital health for palliative care to inform the design of future digital solutions for older adults with serious illness and their social convoy.
Methods: Grounded theory approach using semi-structured interviews (N=81) with interprofessional health care providers, older adults with serious illness, and their social convoy participants at home, clinic, or Zoom. Interviews were conducted using question guides relevant to the participant group and audio recorded for verbatim transcription. Two coders lead the inductive analysis using open and axial coding.
Results: Thematic results aligned with the human centered design framework, which is a participatory approach to the design process that incorporates multiple user stakeholders to develop health solutions. The human centered design process and corresponding theme included: (1) Empathy: Patient, Caregiver, and Provider Experience reports participants’ experience with managing serious illness, caregiving, social support, and technology use. (2) Define: Reactions to Evidence-Based Care Concepts and Barriers illustrates participants’ perspectives on the domains of palliative care ranging from symptom management to psychosocial-spiritual care. (3) Ideation: Desired Features reports participant recommendations for designing digital health tools for palliative care domains.
Conclusion: Digital health provides an opportunity to expand the reach of geriatric palliative care interventions. This paper documents human centered preferences of geriatric palliative care digital health to ensure technologies are relevant and meaningful to health care providers, patients, and the caregiving social convoy.
Background: Advance care plans (ACP) provide patients the opportunity to communicate their goals and wishes for future care.
Local problem: A retrospective case note review of 50 inpatient deaths in 2017 confirmed a doctor had discussed expected death in 90%, however only 2% had an ACP.
Methods: Patients appropriate for ACP were identified on a single geriatrics ward. Interventions were implemented with monthly data collection. Patients with an ACP were followed prospectively. The initiatives were subsequently applied across six geriatrics wards.
Interventions: Interventions included improved identification of patients appropriate for ACP, doctor education and improved communication to general practitioners and healthcare providers.
Results: Before initiation of interventions on the pilot ward, ACP was completed for 38% of appropriate patients; this increased to a mean of 78.6% over 4 months post-interventions. During the pilot, 44 patients had an ACP. Of those discharged, 75% avoided readmission over the following 6 months. After applying the interventions across all geriatric wards, ACPs increased to a mean of 81.2% and was maintained 12 months later at 72%.
Conclusions: The initiatives formed a structure to promote the use of ACP on the wards. Care plans focused on individualising care and effective communication resulted in reduction of readmissions.
There is a called-for shift to an upstream provision of palliative care as an overall care approach within a health equity perspective. Our research explored how nurses in psychiatry engage with aging patients and mortality to discern enactment of ethical dimensions of care. Drawing from tenets of interpretative phenomenological analysis, forensic and geriatric psychiatry registered nurses working at a mental health facility in eastern Ontario completed interviews for analysis. Nurses engaged with mortality through a process of recognition and through the affirmation of their values. The affirmed values are aligned with the palliative care approach and within an ethics of finitude lens in that their enactment is partly premised on the recognition of patients’ accumulated losses related to human facticities (social, temporal, mortal). This research underscores preliminary insights on a process identifying care practices aligned with the palliative approach and possibilities for expanding upon an ethics of finitude lens.
Background: Post-acute rehabiitation is recommended in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It enhances the sense of control by education, which should focus on patient information needs. However, it is unknown whether a geriatric rehabilitation programme for older patients with advanced COPD and severely impaired health status (the GR-COPD programme) does fit these patient information needs.
Objectives: The study aimed to identify the information needs of patients who were eligible for the GR-COPD programme, and investigated if health-related knowledge improved during rehabilitation.
Methods: All patients indicated for the GR-COPD programme were eligible for this study. The information needs were measured with the Lung Information Needs Questionnaire (LINQ).
Findings: The 158 patients (mean age 70.8 years; FEV1 %predicted: 35.5) showed relatively high baseline information needs (mean LINQ overall score: 8.6 [SD 3.1]), with the greatest need in the domains ‘diet’ and ‘self-management’. After follow-up, the mean LINQ overall score significantly improved in patients who completed the GR-COPD programme (p=0.001).
Conclusion: Patients' knowledge showed a statistically significant improvement in some areas during the GR-COPD programme.
INTRODUCTION: An electronic resuscitation system, implemented in 2015, within electronic patient records (EPR) at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was studied, aiming to review and improve decision documentation and communication.
METHOD: The study (January 2018 - June 2018) included all gerontology inpatients with electronic do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (e-DNACPR) decisions. Cases were identified weekly, followed by retrospective analysis of discharges. Amendments to the electronic system and improvements were implemented between cycles. CYCLE 1: One-hundred and thirty-three patients were included; 85% had an e-DNACPR form; 86% of all forms had senior doctor involvement; 68% evidenced patient/relative discussion; 13% documented multidisciplinary team (MDT) discussion.
INTERVENTIONS: A mandatory 'named nurse' field was added to the form and trust-wide education programme implemented. CYCLE 2: One-hundred and twenty-six patients were included; 100% had an e-DNACPR form; 93% evidenced senior doctor involvement; 71% evidenced patient/relative discussion; 57% documented MDT discussion.
CONCLUSION: Changes to the process and trust-wide education resulted in more robust documentation and communication.
OBJECTIVES: to establish the accuracy of community nurses' predictions of mortality among older people with multiple long-term conditions, to compare these with a mortality rating index and to assess the incremental value of nurses' predictions to the prognostic tool.
DESIGN: a prospective cohort study using questionnaires to gather clinical information about patients case managed by community nurses. Nurses estimated likelihood of mortality for each patient on a 5-point rating scale. The dataset was randomly split into derivation and validation cohorts. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate risk equations for the Revised Minimum Dataset Mortality Risk Index (MMRI-R) and nurses' predictions of mortality individually and combined. Measures of discrimination and calibration were calculated and compared within the validation cohort.
SETTING: two NHS Trusts in England providing case-management services by nurses for frail older people with multiple long-term conditions.
PARTICIPANTS: 867 patients on the caseload of 35 case-management nurses. 433 and 434 patients were assigned to the derivation and validation cohorts, respectively. Patients were followed up for 12 months.
RESULTS: 249 patients died (28.72%). In the validation cohort, MMRI-R demonstrated good discrimination (Harrell's c-index 0.71) and nurses' predictions similar discrimination (Harrell's c-index 0.70). There was no evidence of superiority in performance of either method individually (P = 0.83) but the MMRI-R and nurses' predictions together were superior to nurses' predictions alone (P = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: patient mortality is associated with higher MMRI-R scores and nurses' predictions of 12-month mortality. The MMRI-R enhanced nurses' predictions and may improve nurses' confidence in initiating anticipatory care interventions.
The emergency department (ED) provides immediate access to medical care for patients and families in times of need. Increasingly, older patients with serious illness seek care in the ED, hoping for relief from symptoms and suffering associated with advanced disease. Until recently, emergency medicine (EM) clinicians have been ill-equipped to meet the needs of patients with serious illness, and palliative services have been largely unavailable in the ED. However, in the past decade, there has been growing recognition from within both the EM and palliative medicine communities on the importance of palliative care provision in the ED. The past 10 years have seen a surge in EM-palliative care training and education, quality improvement projects, and research. As a result, the practice paradigm within EM for the seriously ill has begun to shift to incorporate more palliative care practices. Despite this progress, substantial work has yet to be done in terms of identifying ED patients in need of palliative care, training EM clinicians to provide high-quality primary palliative care, creating pathways for ED referral to palliative care and hospice, and researching the outcomes and impact of palliative care provision on patients with serious illness in the ED.
Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the unique care needs of older adults with cancer. This study sought to determine the feasibility of delivering a transdisciplinary intervention targeting the geriatric-specific (physical function and comorbidity) and palliative care (symptoms and prognostic understanding) needs of older adults with advanced cancer.
Methods: Patients aged =65 years with incurable gastrointestinal or lung cancer were randomly assigned to a transdisciplinary intervention or usual care. Those in the intervention arm received 2 visits with a geriatrician, who addressed patients’ palliative care needs and conducted a geriatric assessment. We predefined the intervention as feasible if >70% of eligible patients enrolled in the study and >75% of eligible patients completed study visits and surveys. At baseline and week 12, we assessed patients’ quality of life (QoL), symptoms, and communication confidence. We calculated mean change scores in outcomes and estimated intervention effect sizes (ES; Cohen’s d) for changes from baseline to week 12, with 0.2 indicating a small effect, 0.5 a medium effect, and 0.8 a large effect. Results: From February 2017 through June 2018, we randomized 62 patients (55.9% enrollment rate [most common reason for refusal was feeling too ill]; median age, 72.3 years; cancer types: 56.5% gastrointestinal, 43.5% lung). Among intervention patients, 82.1% attended the first visit and 79.6% attended both. Overall, 89.7% completed all study surveys. Compared with usual care, intervention patients had less QoL decrement (–0.77 vs –3.84; ES = 0.21), reduced number of moderate/severe symptoms (–0.69 vs +1.04; ES = 0.58), and improved communication confidence (+1.06 vs –0.80; ES = 0.38).
Conclusions: In this pilot trial, enrollment exceeded 55%, and >75% of enrollees completed all study visits and surveys. The transdisciplinary intervention targeting older patients’ unique care needs showed encouraging ES estimates for enhancing patients’ QoL, symptom burden, and communication confidence.
The integration of specialized geriatric providers with trauma services has received increased attention with promising results. Palliative medicine consultation (PMC) has been shown to reduce length of stay, improve symptom management, and clarify advance directives in the geriatric trauma population. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether PMC reduced tracheostomies and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomies (trach/PEG) and readmission rates in the geriatric trauma population. Retrospective cohort analysis of patients 65 years of age and older, admitted to a Level I trauma center surgical intensive care unit from 2013 to 2014. Patients who died within 1 day were excluded. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, independent-samples t test for continuous variables, 2 test for categorical variables, and logistic regression analysis. A total of 202 patients were included. Palliative medicine consultation occurred in 48%. Average time from admission to PMC was 2.91 days. Thirty-day readmission rate was 19.3%. Patients with a PMC (69.1%) were less likely to undergo trach/PEG (30.9%; p < .001) but more likely if the consult was late (>72 hr posttrauma; 22.0% vs. 40.4%; p = .05). Patients without a trach/PEG were more likely to survive 1 year posttrauma (85.7% vs. 14.3%; p = .003). Thirty-day readmission rates were similar between groups. In a logistic regression analysis, PMC, age, and injury severity score demonstrated an independent association with trach/PEG (all p < .05). Early palliative consults (<72 hr posttrauma) for geriatric trauma patients may reduce tracheostomy and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy procedures and hospital stays.
Half of adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the US will be 75 years or older by 2030. Patients with COPD often have years of debilitating symptoms that accelerate their loss of independence and well-being. COPD is progressive and incurable; many patients are frail and socially isolated and struggle with long lists of medications. Their care is often chaotic and fragmented, with frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Given the limited numbers of geriatricians and palliative care specialists, clinicians who routinely care for patients with COPD should proactively integrate geriatrics and palliative care principles into their daily practice.
COVID-19 continues to impact older adults disproportionately, from severe illness and hospitalization to increased mortality risk. Concurrently, concerns about potential shortages of healthcare professionals and health supplies to address these needs have focused attention on how resources are ultimately allocated and used. Some strategies misguidedly use age as an arbitrary criterion, which inappropriately disfavors older adults. This statement represents the official policy position of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). It is intended to inform stakeholders including hospitals, health systems, and policymakers about ethical considerations to consider when developing strategies for allocating scarce resources during an emergency involving older adults. Members of the AGS Ethics Committee collaborated with interprofessional experts in ethics, law, nursing, and medicine (including geriatrics, palliative care, emergency medicine, and pulmonology/critical care) to conduct a structured literature review and examine relevant reports. The resulting recommendations defend a particular view of distributive justice that maximizes relevant clinical factors and de-emphasizes or eliminates factors placing arbitrary, disproportionate weight on advanced age. The AGS positions include: (1) avoiding age per se as a means for excluding anyone from care; (2) assessing comorbidities and considering the disparate impact of social determinants of health; (3) encouraging decision makers to focus primarily on potential short-term (not long-term) outcomes; (4) avoiding ancillary criteria such as "life-years saved" and "long-term predicted life expectancy" that might disadvantage older people; (5) forming and staffing triage committees tasked with allocating scarce resources; (6) developing institutional resource allocation strategies that are transparent and applied uniformly; and (7) facilitating appropriate advance care planning. The statement includes recommendations that should be immediately implemented to address resource allocation strategies during COVID-19, aligning with AGS positions. The statement also includes recommendations for post-pandemic review. Such review would support revised strategies to ensure that governments and institutions have equitable emergency resource allocation strategies, avoid future discriminatory language and practice, and have appropriate guidance to develop national frameworks for emergent resource allocation decisions.
The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected millions of people in over 180 territories, causing a significant impact on healthcare systems globally. Older adults, as well as people living with cancer, appear to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality, which means that older adults with cancer are an especially high-risk population. This has led to significant changes in the way geriatric oncologists provide care to older patients, including the implementation of novel methods for clinical visits, interruptions or delays in procedures, and modification of therapeutic strategies, both in the curative and palliative settings. In this manuscript, we provide a global overview of the perspectives of geriatric oncology providers from countries across Europe, America, and Asia, regarding the adaptive strategies utilized to continue providing high quality care for older patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through these perspectives, we attempt to show that, although each country and setting has specific issues, we all face similar challenges when providing care for our older patients with cancer during these difficult times.
Early on, geriatricians in Israel viewed with increasing alarm the spread of COVID-19. It was clear that this viral disease exhibited a clear predilection for and danger to older persons. Informal contacts began with senior officials from the country's Ministry of Health, the Israel Medical Association and the country's largest Health Fund; this in order to plan an approach to the possible coming storm. A group was formed, comprising three senior geriatricians, a former dean, palliative care specialist and a lawyer/ethicist. The members made every effort to ensure that its recommendations would be practical while at the same time taking into account the tenets of medical ethics. The committee's main task was to think through a workable approach were ICU/ventilator resources be far outstripped by those requiring such care. Recommendations included the approach to older persons both in the community and long term care institutions, a triage instrument and palliative care. Patient autonomy was emphasized with a strong recommendation for people of all ages to update their advance directives or if they did not have any, to quickly draw them up. Considering the value of distributive justice, with respect to triage, a "soft utilitarian" approach was advocated with the main criteria being function and co-morbidity. While chronological age was rejected as a sole criterion, in the case of an overwhelming crisis, "biological age" would enter into the triage considerations; but only in the case of distinguishing between people with equal non-age related deficits. The guideline emphasized that no matter what, in the spirit of beneficence, anyone who fell ill must receive active palliative care throughout the course of a COVD-19 infection but especially at the end of life. Furthermore, in the spirit of non-maleficence, the very frail, old-old and severely demented would be actively protected from dying on ventilation.
COVID-19 continues to impact older adults disproportionately with respect to serious consequences ranging from severe illness and hospitalization to increased mortality risk. Concurrently, concerns about potential shortages of healthcare professionals and health supplies to address these issues have focused attention on how these resources are ultimately allocated and used. Some strategies, for example, misguidedly use age as an arbitrary criterion, which disfavors older adults in resource allocation decisions. This is a companion manuscript to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) position statement, "Resource Allocation Strategies and Age-Related Considerations in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond." It is intended to inform stakeholders including hospitals, health systems, and policymakers about ethical considerations that should be considered when developing strategies for allocation of scarce resources during an emergency involving older adults. This review presents the legal and ethical background for the position statement and discusses the following issues that informed the development of the AGS positions: (1) age as a determining factor; (2) age as a tiebreaker; (3) criteria with a differential impact on older adults; (4) individual choices and advance directives; (5) racial/ethnic disparities and resource allocation; and (6) scoring systems and their impact on older adults. It also considers the role of advance directives as expressions of individual preferences in pandemics.
The older Italian population is posing a challenge in the number of deaths for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). According to previous data from China, pre-existing health conditions dramatically increase the risk of dying from COVID-19. The presence of multiple diseases in older patients may be considered as a mark of frailty, which increases the person's vulnerability to stress and impairs the multisystemic compensatory effort to restore homeostasis. The clinical complexity associated with the management of frailty may increase the risk of complications during infection as well as the lack of the early recognition of atypical symptoms. There is an urgent need to share expertise and clinical management skills with geriatricians as well as the need for early diagnosis to start treatment at the earliest convenience in the community, with the aim to avoid the collapse of intensive care units.
While the whole population is at risk from infection with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), older people – often frail and subject to multimorbidity – are at highest risk for severe and fatal disease. Experience from Italy shows a median age at death of 79 years for men and 82 for women. Severe illness with an uncertain outcome and end-of-life situations call for good palliative care for the patients concerned. The Association for Geriatric Palliative Medicine (FGPG) promotes the integration of a palliative care approach and skills into the care of elderly and very elderly people – both in the inpatient setting and at home. The current pandemic and the publication of the SAMS Guidelines “COVID-19 pandemic: triage for intensive-care treatment under resource scarcity” have prompted the FGPG to prepare these recommendations for practice.
Background: The population of older adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing and nephrologists need education on the principles of geriatrics and palliative care to effectively care for this population.
Objectives: Our objective was to develop and deliver a curriculum to interprofessional clinicians caring for older adults with CKD. The aim of this curriculum would be to improve knowledge of the principles of geriatrics and palliative care.
Design: We have previously developed a curriculum on geriatrics and palliative care targeted toward primary care teams. In this project, we used an interdisciplinary steering committee to modify the curriculum for nephrology teams.
Setting: This curriculum was delivered in a live grand rounds setting and was recorded and made available via online platform for virtual learning.
Participants: The 6-session curriculum was delivered to 611 live and online learners between January 2018 and April 2019, with more than half of the participants (n = 317) completing more than 1 session. Participants came from a variety of disciplines including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work.
Results: Participants had a high rate of agreement with the statement that the curriculum met learning objectives, with live participants having stronger agreement. Participants reported that the activity would change their practice behavior by calling palliative care earlier, as well as improving their communication skills.
Conclusion: Interprofessional collaboration can result in improved learning around the management of patients with CKD or end-stage kidney disease.
Frailty has recently emerged as a dominant concept against a backdrop of media and governmental narratives that frame the growing ageing population as an economic threat to the current configuration of health care in the United Kingdom (UK). Despite frailty's popularity amongst geriatricians and policy makers, the concept faces resistance from other health-care professionals and older people themselves. This paper draws on the Foucauldian idea of biopower; by suggesting that the contemporary emergence and utilisation of frailty represents a biopolitical practice a number or critical observations are made. First, despite biomedical experts acknowledging ambiguities in the definition of frailty, the concept is presented as a truth discourse. This is driven by the ability of frailty measurements to predict risk of costly adverse outcomes; the capability of frailty scores to enumerate complex needs; and the scientific legitimacy frailty affords to geriatric medicine. Consequently, frailty has become pervasive, knowable and measurable. Second, the routine delineation between frail and robust objectifies older people, and can be said to benefit those making the diagnosis over those being labelled frail, with the latter becoming disempowered. Last, studies show that frailty is associated with increasing wealth inequalities in the UK; however, experts’ suggested management of frailty shifts the focus of responsibility away from ideologically driven structural inequalities towards the frail older person, attempting to encourage individuals to modify lifestyle choices. This neglects the association between lifestyle opportunities and socio-economic deprivation, and the impact of long-term poverty on health. These observations, set against the contemporary political climate of economic austerity, cuts to public services and rationalisation of health resources, bring the urgency of a critical consideration of frailty to the fore.
OBJECTIVES: The wish to die may be different in geriatric patients than in younger terminally ill patients. This study aimed to develop and validate instruments for assessing the wish to die in geriatric patients.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Geriatric rehabilitation unit of a university hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients (N = 101) aged 65 years or older with a Mini-Mental State Examination score of 20 or higher, admitted consecutively over a 5-month period.
MEASUREMENTS: The Schedule of Attitudes Toward Hastened Death (SAHD) was adapted to the older population (SAHD-Senior). A second tool was developed based on qualitative literature, the Categories of Attitudes Toward Death Occurrence (CADO). After cognitive pretesting, these instruments were validated in a sample of patients admitted to a geriatric rehabilitation unit.
RESULTS: The SAHD-Senior showed good psychometric properties and a unifactorial structure. In the studied sample, 12.9% had a SAHD-Senior score of 10 or higher, suggesting a significant wish to die. Associations were observed between high levels of the SAHD-Senior and advanced age, high levels of depressive symptoms, lower quality of life, and lower cognitive function. The CADO allowed for passive death wishes to be distinguished from wishes to actively hasten death. According to the CADO, 14.9% of the sample had a wish to die. The two instruments showed a concordance rate of 90.1%.
CONCLUSION: The wish to die in older patients admitted to rehabilitation can be validly assessed with two novel instruments. The considerable proportion with a wish to die warrants investigation into concept, determinants, and management of the wish to die.
INTRODUCTION: Corrections agencies are exploring ways to securely and cost-effectively increase access to high-quality, evidence-based educational programs for personnel. Technology-based instructional tools hold strong potential for continuing education. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Framework for Going to Full Scale was employed to guide a systematic approach.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this article is to outline and describe the design and development of a media-rich interactive computer-based learning product, Enhancing Care for Aged and Dying in Prison, which addresses geriatric and end-of-life care issues in corrections.
METHOD: Through an iterative process, the research team developed the computer-based educational program that included program and module-specific objectives in alignment with goals and priorities of the end users, detailed evidence-based content that was engaging and visually appealing, and assessments aimed at testing the user's knowledge.
RESULTS: The Enhancing Care for Aged and Dying in Prison contains six modules, created under the careful guidance of the research team and the two advisory boards. Contents, including images and testimonials, were selected purposefully and strategically. Module objectives were developed in alignment with the goals and priorities of each module, and assessments tested user knowledge level pre/post module exposure. Completion of the training product advances the research and development necessary to further the goal of full-scale dissemination of the computer-based education.
DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS: The goal of this program is to enhance care and improve quality of life for aged and dying inmates. Evidence-based training products are critical in preparing not only forensic nurses who work in corrections but also the broader group of correctional personnel in how to better meet the care needs of incarcerated persons.