Long-term care (LTC) nurses are a critical nexus for patient communication and vital to advance care planning due to their professional role and breadth of patient relationships. The current study's aim was to explore the communication strategies Midwestern LTC nurses use to clarify patients' end-of-life (EOL) care preferences. Two focus groups used a phenomenological framework to elucidate the experiences of 14 RNs. Data analysis revealed two themes grounded in time: (a) nurses use time to assess patients' EOL situation and assist patients to discern care options; and (b) nurses educate patients about EOL care, adjust care plans, and develop trusting relationships. Two themes were grounded in clinical experience: (a) nurses become persistent advocates and educators to initiate and sustain EOL communication; and (b) nurses learn consistency in communication, including awareness of patients' nonverbal communication. Nurses shared that EOL communication is never "done"; time frames to assess, educate, and clarify are continuous.
Purpose: Prolonged living with chronic illness and disability expands the discussion of end-of-life conversation because of the complex role of intercommunication among patient, family, and healthcare staff. Little is known about such interaction from participants’ different perspectives. This qualitative case study examined end-of-life conversation among patient, family, and staff during long-term hospitalization in a neurological rehabilitation department.
Methods: After the patient’s death, 18 participants responded to in-depth semi-structured interviews: 16 healthcare staff and two family members (the patient’s wife and brother). In addition, we used the wife’s autoethnographic documentation of her experiences during end-of-life conversation.
Results: Thematic analysis produced three themes: (1) The Rehabilitation Department’s Mission – Toward Life or Death? (2) The Staff’s Perception of the Patient; (3) Containing Death: End-of-life Conversation from Both Sides of the Bed. These themes represented participants’ different perspectives in the intercommunication in overt and covert dialogues, which changed over time. Death’s presence–absence was expressed by movement between clinging to life and anticipating death.
Conclusion: The study findings emphasize the importance of practitioners’ training to accept and openly discuss death as an inseparable part of life-long disability, and the implementation of this stance during end-of-life care via sensitive conversations with patients and their families.
IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION It is vital for rehabilitation professionals to be trained to process and accept end-of-life issues as a natural and inseparable part of the life discourse among people with disabilities and their families. Rehabilitation professionals need to acquire tools to grasp the spoken and unspoken issues related to life and death, and to communicate their impressions and understandings with people with disabilities and their families. Rehabilitation professionals need to encourage an open dialogue when communicating with people with disabilities and their families on processes related to parting and death.
End-of-life care of critically ill adult patients with advanced or incurable cancers is imbued with major ethical challenges. Oncologists, hospitalists, and intensivists can inadvertently subjugate themselves to the perceived powers of autonomous patients. Therapeutic illusion and poor insight by surrogates in physicians' ability to offer accurate prognosis, missed opportunities and miscommunication by clinicians, and lack of systematic or protocolized approach represent important barriers to high-quality palliative care. Enhanced collaboration, models that allow clinicians and surrogates to share the burdens of decision, and institutional support for early integration of palliative care can foster an ethical climate.
Purpose: End-of-life (EOL) decision-making is stressful. We conducted a quality improvement initiative to EOL decision-making and reduce stress for clinicians and patients’ relatives.
Methods: A before–after study running from 2010–2014 at four interdisciplinary intensive care units (ICU) in a German university hospital was performed. Between periods, a multifaceted intervention was implemented to improve timeliness, clinician involvement, and organisational support. Consecutive patients with severe sepsis and therapy limitations were included. Relatives were interviewed by telephone after 90 days to assess their psychological symptoms. Clinician burnout was assessed by staff surveys in each period.
Results: Participation in the pre- and postintervention period was 84/145 and 90/159 among relatives, and 174/284 and 122/297 among ICU clinicians. Staff judged intervention elements as mostly helpful, but implementation of intervention elements was heterogeneous. From pre- to postintervention, relatives’ risk of posttraumatic stress, depression and anxiety did not change (all p = 0.464). Clinicians’ risk of burnout increased (29% vs. 41%, p = 0.05). Relatives were highly satisfied in both periods (median of 9 vs. 9.2 on a 1–10 scale each). Attendings involved residents and nurses more often (both p = 0.018). Nurses more often had sufficient information to talk with relatives (41% vs. 62%, p = 0.002). Time to first EOL decision as well as barriers and facilitators of EOL decision-making did not change.
Conclusions: The intervention may have increased involvement in EOL decision-making, but was accompanied by an increased risk of clinician burnout maybe due to lack of improving communication skills and organisational support. More research is needed to understand which interventions can decrease clinician burnout.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim was to explore how nurses experience compassionate care for patients with cancer and family caregivers in different phases of the palliative pathway.
BACKGROUND: Compassion is fundamental to palliative care and viewed as a cornerstone of high-quality care provision. Healthcare authorities emphasize that patients should have the opportunity to stay at home for as long as possible. There are, however, care deficiencies in the palliative pathway.
DESIGN: This study employed a qualitative design using focus groups and a hermeneutic approach.
METHODS: Four focus groups with three to seven female nurses in each group were conducted in Mid-Norway in 2018. Nurses' ages ranged from 28-60 years (mean age = 45 years), and they were recruited through purposive sampling (N = 21). Compassionate care was chosen as the theoretical framework. Reporting followed the COREQ guidelines.
RESULTS: Three themes expressing compassionate care related to different phases of the pathway were identified: (a) information and dialogue, (b) creating a space for dying and (c) family caregivers' acceptance of death.
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that it was crucial to create a space for dying, characterized by trust, collaboration, good relationships, empathy, attention, silence, caution, slowness, symptom relief and the absence of noise and conflict.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The quality of compassion possessed by individual practitioners, as well as the overall design of the healthcare system, must be considered when creating compassionate care for patients and their family caregivers. Nursing educators and health authorities should pay attention to the development of compassion in education and practice. Further research should highlight patients' and family caregivers' experiences of compassionate care and determine how healthcare systems can support compassionate care.
Many people move in and out of hospital in the last few weeks of life. These care transitions can be distressing for family members because they signify the deterioration and impending death of their ill relative and forthcoming family bereavement. Whilst there is evidence about psychosocial support for family members providing end-of-life care at home, there is limited evidence about how this can be provided in acute hospitals during care transitions. Consequently, family members report a lack of support from hospital-based healthcare professionals.
BACKGROUND: The attention of healthcare professionals is directed mainly towards the recipients of care and often insufficiently towards family carers. However, an effective collaboration between professionals and family carers is vital to provide quality palliative and end-of-life care. Such collaboration is under-studied in a palliative care context.
AIM: This study aimed to investigate how family carers of people who live at home with a life-limiting chronic illness experience and perceive collaboration with different healthcare professionals in the last phase of life.
DESIGN: Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with the primary family carers of people with a life-limiting chronic illness. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A heterogeneous sample of 30 family carers of people with cancer, heart failure or dementia was recruited through a variety of care providers and services, in order to reflect the heterogeneity of caregiving in serious illness.
RESULTS: Five main themes emerged from interpretative phenomenological analysis that describe the quality of the collaboration between family carers and professionals: respecting family carers both as someone with care needs and as a member of the care team; the continuous availability and accessibility of healthcare professionals; the provision of information and communication including family carer issues; the coordination of care between all parties and contextual factors. The dominant experience by family carers was one of missed opportunities across these themes.
CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study about the experiences and perceptions of family carers of people with a chronic life-limiting illness living at home regarding the collaboration with different healthcare providers in the last phase life, showed that family carers experience a lot of possibilities, but perceive missed opportunities as well, for healthcare professionals to effectively collaborate with them for palliative care.
In nursing homes, discussions between family members and staff regarding the end of life for residents with cognitive impairment are crucial to the choice of treatment and care consistent with residents' wishes. However, family members experience burden in such discussions, and communication with staff remains inadequate. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to elucidate the meaning of continuous end-of-life discussion for family members. Data were collected using semistructured individual interviews. Thirteen family members of residents from 3 nursing homes in Kyoto, Japan, participated in the study. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which focused on both explicit and implicit meanings. Four themes emerged regarding the experience of end-of-life discussion: “the end of life soaking in,” “hardship of making the decision to end my family member's life,” “wavering thoughts about decisions made and actions taken,” and “feeling a sense of participation about the care.” Family members had come to accept the deaths of residents through continuous discussion and experienced strong conflict in facing the death of their family members. Moreover, staff members should understand family members' beliefs and the burden they experience in facing residents' death.
Background: Parents of seriously ill children are at risk of psychosocial morbidity, which may be mitigated by competent family-centered communication and role-affirming conversations. Parent caregivers describe a guiding desire to do a good job in their parenting role but also depict struggling under the intense weight of parental duty.
Objectives and Design: Through this case study, the Communication Theory of Identity (CTI) provides a framework for conceptualizing how palliative care teams can help parents cope with this reality. CTI views communication with care teams as formative in the development and enablement of parental perceptions of their "good parenting" role.
Results: Palliative care teams may consider the four frames of identity (personal, enacted, relational, and communal) as meaningful dimensions of the parental pursuit to care well for an ill child.
Conclusion: Palliative care teams may consider compassionate communication about parental roles to support the directional virtues of multilayered dynamic parental identity.
Background: Nearly 3 million U.S. family caregivers support someone with cancer. However, oncology clinic-based service lines that proactively screen, assess, and support cancer caregivers are nearly nonexistent.
Objective: To examine first-year experiences of a nurse-led clinic-based telehealth support service (FamilyStrong) for family caregivers of patients with recently diagnosed grade IV brain tumors.
Methods: This is a retrospective evaluation of operational outcomes from initial implementation of the FamilyStrong Service, developed in partnership with Caregiver and Bereavement Support Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. From August 2018 to December 2019, 53 family caregivers were proactively identified and enrolled by a palliative care nurse, working approximately one day/week, who performed monthly caregiver distress thermometer screenings by phone and provided emotional, educational, problem-solving, and referral support.
Results: Enrolled family caregivers were a mean age of 53.5 years and mostly female (62.3%), full- or part-time employed (67.9%), and the patient's spouse/partner (79.3%). Caregivers provided support 6.7 days/week for 11.2 hours/day. The palliative care nurse performed 235 distress screenings and provided support that included 68 documented instances of emotional, problem-solving, and educational support, 41 nurse-facilitated communications with the neuro-oncology team about patient issues, and 24 referrals to UAB and community services (e.g., counseling). The most common problems caregivers wanted assistance with included: managing their relative's health condition and symptoms (51%), coordinating care/services (21%), and planning for the future/advance care planning (17%).
Discussion: The FamilyStrong Program is among the first "real world" oncology clinic-based formal support services for advance cancer family caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: Palliative care providers may face questions from patients and relatives regarding the heritability of cancers. Implications of such discussions for providers have been little explored. This study aimed to gather palliative care providers' views on their main needs, roles, and ethical concerns regarding cancer family history discussions.
METHOD: The palliative care providers who participated in the 2015 and 2017 annual meetings of the Quebec Palliative Care Association were approached to complete a web-based questionnaire. Study participants answered the questionnaire between November 2016 and July 2017. They were asked to identify the most facilitating factor for cancer family history discussions, as well as their most important knowledge needs, potential role, and ethical concerns. Descriptive analyses were conducted.
RESULTS: Ninety-four palliative care providers answered the questionnaire. Access to specialized resources to obtain information and protocols or guidelines were considered the most facilitating factors for cancer family history discussions by 32% and 20% of providers, respectively. Knowledge of hereditary cancers was the most relevant educational need for 53%. Thirty-eight per cent considered essential to be informed about their rights and duties regarding cancer family history discussions. Being attentive to patients' concerns and referring families to appropriate resources were identified as the most relevant roles for palliative care providers by 47% and 34% of respondents, respectively. Fifty-eight per cent agreed that cancer family history discussions should be initiated only if beneficial to family members.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Education on hereditary cancers made consensus among palliative care providers as the most important knowledge need regarding discussing cancer family history at the end of life. Nonetheless, other less commonly expressed needs, including access to genetics specialists, protocols, or guidelines, and awareness of provider rights and duties concerning such discussions, deserve attention. Answering providers' needs might help optimize cancer predisposition management in palliative care.
OBJECTIVES: Family carers (FCs) of nursing home (NH) residents are best placed to notice deteriorations that signal impending death in their relative, which can open a conversation with healthcare professionals (HCPs) about adjusting the care plan. We explored contributors to bereaved FCs' decision to transition towards palliative-oriented care for their relatives in NHs.
METHODS: This qualitative descriptive study used a phenomenological design. Thirty-two bereaved FCs across 13 Italian NHs completed semi-structured interviews. Additional data were collected on NH referrals to palliative care services (PCS) in the 6 months before study start and treatments provided in the last week of life. Content analysis with a combined inductive and deductive approach was applied to identify codes and fit them into an a priori framework. When codes did not fit, they were grouped into new categories, which were finally gathered into themes.
RESULTS: FCs reported four types of "trigger events" that made them doubt that their relative would recover: (1) physical deterioration (e.g., stopping eating/walking or swallowing problems); (2) social confirmation (e.g., confirming their relative's condition with friends); (3) multiple hospitalizations; and (4) external indicators (e.g., medical examinations by external consultants). A "resident-centered environment" helped FCs recognize trigger events and "raise awareness of the possibility of death"; however, the "need for reassurance" was pivotal to a "gradual transition towards palliative-oriented care". When participants did not recognize the trigger event, their relative continued to receive curative-oriented care. NHs that referred residents to PCS discussed palliative-oriented care more frequently with FCs, had a lower nurse-to-resident and nurse aide-to-resident ratio, and administered more palliative-oriented care.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Trigger events represent an opportunity to discuss residents' prognosis and are the starting point for a gradual transition towards palliative-oriented care. Adequate staffing, teamwork, and communication between FCs and healthcare professionals contribute to a sensitive, timely shift in care goals.
BACKGROUND: End-of-life care is provided in a variety of healthcare settings, not just palliative care hospitals. This is one reason why it is very important to assess all barriers to end-of-life care and to provide safe and quality services to patients. This study was aimed at describing nurses' attitudes in providing end-of-life care and exploring barriers and facilitating behaviors of nurses in multi-profile hospitals in Eastern Europe.
METHODS: A descriptive, correlational design was applied in this study, using a cross-sectional survey of 1320 registered nurses within 7 hospitals in Lithuania.
RESULTS: Registered nurses working in the three different profiles emphasized safe and effective care and the importance of meeting the patient's spiritual needs at the end of life. The main barriers assigned by nurses caring for patients at the end of life were angry family members, inadequate understanding of nursing care by the patient's relatives; lack of time to talk to patients, lack of nursing knowledge to deal with the bereaved patient's family, lack of evaluation of nurses' opinions, and the evasion by physicians to talk about the diagnosis and their over-optimistic view of the situation. The main facilitating behaviors to improve nursing care were end-of-life training, volunteering, and family involvement.
CONCLUSIONS: Spiritual needs were identified by nurses as the primary needs of patients at the end of life. Family-related barriers remain one of the main barriers to end-of-life care. Also, the behavior of physicians and their relationship with nurses remains one of the most sensitive issues in end-of-life care.
BACKGROUND: The supportive hospice aged residential exchange (SHARE) is a new model of palliative care education that has been designed for residential aged care. The goal of SHARE is to help clinical staff improve palliative care within residential aged care facilities and to improve specialist palliative care nurses' knowledge and skill to care for frail older people.
METHOD: The experiences of 18 bereaved families concerning the palliative care journey (both at the start and finish of a one-year implementation of SHARE) were explored using semi-structured interviews.
RESULTS: Three themes were important to bereaved families' experience: communication with staff, systems of care, and hospice involvement. Sub-themes indicating changes in these three components of care between the start and finish of SHARE was identified. A fourth theme highlighted challenges (relationship with GP, staff shortages, and turnover) that continued across SHARE.
CONCLUSION: Findings indicated that SHARE benefited families (improved communication and support) through the end of life journey of their relatives, but challenges remained.
Relationship strains between families and providers can have intense repercussions on the bereavement experience. Little is known about how to define and differentiate relationships within various interpersonal contexts and how those families manifest their bereavement. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand parental experiences about their relationships with providers at their child's end of life with cancer and describe the manifestations of their grief. In this hermeneutic study, data were collected through interviews with bereaved parents and observation of families and health care providers in the hospital setting. Parents variously experienced complex relationships characterized by support, collaboration, trust, silence, deterioration, hierarchy, and tolerating, which were interchangeable and varied overtime, as new meanings were incorporated into their experiences. Through better understanding of the nature of these relationships, nurses can provide leadership in research and practice for identifying consequences of their care.
BACKGROUND: Many people are dying from COVID-19, but consensus guidance on palliative care in COVID-19 is lacking. This new life-threatening disease has put healthcare systems under pressure, with increased need of palliative care provided to many patients by clinicians with limited prior experience in this field. Therefore, we aimed to make consensus recommendations for palliative care for patients with COVID-19 using the Convergence of Opinion on Recommendations and Evidence (CORE) process.
METHODS: We invited 90 international experts to complete an online survey including stating their agreement, or not, with 14 potential recommendations. At least 70% agreement on directionality was needed to provide consensus recommendations. If consensus was not achieved on the first round, a second round was conducted.
RESULTS: 68 experts (75.6%) responded in the first round. Most participants were experts in palliative care, respiratory medicine or critical care medicine. In the first round, consensus was achieved on 13 recommendations based upon indirect evidence and clinical experience. In the second round, 58/68 (85.3%) of the first round experts responded, resulting in consensus also for the 14th recommendation.
CONCLUSIONS: This multi-national task force provides consensus recommendations for palliative care for patients with COVID-19 concerning: advance care planning; (pharmacological) palliative treatment of breathlessness; clinician-patient communication; remote clinician-family communication; palliative care involvement in patients with serious COVID-19; spiritual care; psychosocial care; and bereavement care. Future studies are needed to generate empirical evidence for these recommendations.
Person-centered, family-oriented services are integral to palliative and end-of-life care. Effective communication with providers informs the quality of the dying experience for patients and how families fare in bereavement. This paper reports findings from a study exploring how communication and care in the later stages of an advanced illness influence family caregivers’ well-being in bereavement. A concurrent triangulation design was used to analyze data collected during semi-structured interviews with 108 recently bereaved caregivers from a single hospice agency in Western New York. Findings from this study suggest that family caregivers assume the role of interpreter and advocate while engaged in both formal and informal communication with health care providers at the end of care-recipients’ lives. Findings also suggest that families are more likely to feel emotionally prepared for loss and grief when health care providers are available to communicate in a concise, consistent, and compassionate manner. The results illuminate the important connection between communication during the transition from late-stage illness to end-of-life care and preparation for bereavement. The paper concludes with a discussion of how findings from this study align with recent concerted efforts to establish standards and competencies for social work education and practice in palliative care.
Background: Despite 50 years of modern palliative care (PC), a misunderstanding of its purpose persists. The original message that PC is focused on total care, helping to live until the person dies, is being replaced and linked to feelings of fear, anxiety and death, instead of compassion, support or appropriate care. Society is still afraid to speak its name, and specialized units are identified as “places of death” as opposed to “places of life” meant to treat suffering. This issue is prohibitive to the implementation and development of PC policies worldwide. It is imperative to identify what message PC professionals are relaying to patients and other health care specialists and how that message may condition understandings of the right to access PC.
Methods: A qualitative study, employing focused ethnography and participant observation (PO) of the daily interaction of PC professionals with patients and family members in three different PC services. Two researchers independently conducted a thematic analysis, followed by member checking with participants.
Results: A total of 242 h of participant observation revealed the following messages sent by PC professionals in their daily interaction with patients and families: i) We are focused on your wellbeing; ii) You matter: we want to get to know you; iii) Your family is important to us.
Conclusion: The complexity of PC discourses contributes to the difficulty of identifying a clear universal message between PC professionals, patients and families. The PC professionals observed transmit a simple message focused on their actions rather than their identity, which may perpetuate some social/cultural misunderstandings of PC. It seems there is a common culture, based on the same values and attitudes, within the messages that PC professionals transmit to patients and their families. PC teams are characterised by their availability.
Background: When family caregivers are involved in patient care, both patients and caregivers experience better clinical outcomes. However, caregivers experience communication difficulties as they navigate a complex health care system and interact with health care providers. Research indicates that caregivers experience a communication burden that can result in topic avoidance and distress; however, little is known about how burden stemming from communication difficulties with health care providers relates to caregiving outcomes.
Objectives: To investigate how family caregiver communication difficulties with health care providers influence caregiver quality of life and anxiety.
Methods: Data were collected in a cross-sectional online survey of 220 caregivers with communication difficulties resulting from caregiver avoidance of caregiving-related topics, inadequate reading and question-asking health literacy, and low communication self-efficacy.
Results: Caregiver outcomes were not affected by reading health literacy level but did differ based on question-asking health literacy level. Adequate question-asking health literacy was associated with lower anxiety and a higher quality of life. Caregivers who avoided discussing caregiving topics reported higher anxiety and lower quality of life and caregivers with increased communication self-efficacy reported a higher quality of life.
Conclusion: Involvement of family caregivers in care is likely to require tailored approaches that address caregiver communication and health literacy skills. Findings from this study suggest that hospice and palliative care providers should identify and provide support for caregiver communication difficulties in order to positively influence caregiver quality of life and anxiety.
L'entretien entre un professionnel de santé et un patient ou son proche est à la fois le coeur et l'outil de la relation.
Si un échange peut soutenir les personnes, la seule présence du clinicien ne suffit pas, pas plus que la simple conversation.
Pour que l'entretien ait valeur d'acte thérapeutique, il importe que le professionnel adopte une écoute et une attitude spécifiques afin de favoriser l'expression du patient ou de son proche.
Les auteurs, médecins, soignants, psychologues cliniciens, ne livrent pas des trames d'entretiens valables en toutes circonstances, mais des approches applicables à la singularité de chacun.
Ils partagent la richesse de leur pratique quotidienne d'entretiens, qu'ils exercent dans des services de réanimation, de médecine, ou dans le champ psychosocial.
Ils détaillent la diversité de leurs rencontres avec des patients, leur entourage ou toute personne en besoin d'aide et de soutien, que ce soit dans le cadre d'une consultation dédiée ou de façon plus informelle.
Les situations cliniques abordées permettent de saisir les enjeux de l'annonce concernant une évolution défavorable en réanimation, la limitation ou l'arrêt de thérapeutiques actives, le prélèvement d'organes, ou la nécessité d'une dialyse.
Les psychologues sont aussi conduits à intervenir dans des situations de soutien à la parentalité, face à des personnes âgées, en fin de vie, migrantes, des victimes d'abus sexuel, etc.
Cet ouvrage fournit à l'ensemble des professionnels de la santé des repères pour veiller à ce que l'entretien soit un acte thérapeutique.
Il s'agit de contribuer à une avancée vers un mieux-être du patient ou de ses proches, qui vivent des expériences générant des émotions intenses.