Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.
CONTEXT: Symptom management is essential in the end of life care of long-term care facility residents.
OBJECTIVES: To study discrepancies and possible associated factors in staff and family carers' symptom assessment scores for residents in the last week of life.
METHODS: A post mortem survey in Belgium, the Netherlands and Finland: staff and family carers completed the "End-Of-Life in Dementia - Comfort Assessment in Dying" scale (EOLD-CAD), rating 14 symptoms on a 1 to 3-point scale. Higher scores reflect better comfort. We calculated mean paired differences in symptom, subscale and total scores at a group level and interrater agreement and percentage of perfect agreement at a resident level.
RESULTS: Mean staff scores significantly reflected better comfort than those of family carers for the total End-of-Life in Dementia—Comfort Assessment in Dying (31.61 vs. 29.81; P < 0.001) and the physical distress (8.64 vs. 7.62; P < 0.001) and dying symptoms (8.95 vs. 8.25; P < 0.001) subscales. No significant differences were found for emotional distress and well-being. The largest discrepancies were found for gurgling, discomfort, restlessness, and choking for which staff answered not at all, whereas the family carer answered a lot, in respectively, 9.5%, 7.3%, 6.7%, and 6.1% of cases. Inter-rater agreement ranged from 0.106 to 0.204, the extent of perfect agreement from 40.8 for lack of serenity to 68.7% for crying.
CONCLUSION: There is a need for improved communication between staff and family and discussion about symptom burden in the dying phase in long-term care facilities.
OBJECTIVE: To examine factors associated with perceived quality of communication with physicians by relatives of dying residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs).
DESIGN: A cross-sectional retrospective study in a representative sample of LTCFs conducted in 2015. In each LTCF, deaths of residents during the 3 months before the researcher's visit were reported. Structured questionnaires were sent to the identified relatives of deceased residents.
SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 736 relatives of deceased residents in 210 LTCFs (in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland).
METHODS: The Family Perception of Physician-Family Communication scale (FPPFC) was used to assess the quality of end-of-life (EOL) communication with physicians as perceived by relatives. We applied multilevel linear regression models to find factors associated with the FPPFC score.
RESULTS: The quality of EOL communication with physicians was perceived by relatives as higher when the relative spent more than 14 hours with the resident in the last week of the resident's life (b = 0.205; P = .044), and when the treating physician visited the resident at least 3 times in the last week of the resident's life (b = 0.286; P = .002) or provided the resident with palliative care (b = 0.223; P = .003). Relatives with higher emotional burden perceived the quality of EOL communication with physicians as lower (b = -0.060; P < .001). These results had been adjusted to countries and LTCF types with physicians employed on-site or off-site of the facility.
CONCLUSION: The quality of EOL communication with physicians, as perceived by relatives of dying LTCF residents, is associated with the number of physician visits and amount of time spent by the relative with the resident in the last week of the resident's life, and relatives' emotional burden.
IMPLICATIONS: LTCF managers should organize care for dying residents in a way that enables frequent interactions between physicians and relatives, and emotional support to relatives to improve their satisfaction with EOL communication.
OBJECTIVE: To examine how relatives evaluate the quality of communication with the treating physician of a dying resident in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and to assess its differences between countries.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional retrospective study in a representative sample of LTCFs conducted in 2015. Relatives of residents who died during the previous 3 months were sent a questionnaire.
SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: 761 relatives of deceased residents in 241 LTCFs in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland.
METHODS: The Family Perception of Physician-Family Communication (FPPFC) scale (ratings from 0 to 3, where 3 means the highest quality) was used to retrospectively assess how the quality of end-of-life communication with treating physicians was perceived by relatives. We applied multilevel linear and logistic regression models to assess differences between countries and LTCF types.
RESULTS: The FPPFC score was the lowest in Finland (1.4 ± 0.8) and the highest in Italy (2.2 ± 0.7). In LTCFs served by general practitioners, the FPPFC score differed between countries, but did not in LTCFs with on-site physicians. Most relatives reported that they were well informed about a resident's general condition (from 50.8% in Finland to 90.6% in Italy) and felt listened to (from 53.1% in Finland to 84.9% in Italy) and understood by the physician (from 56.7% in Finland to 85.8% in Italy). In most countries, relatives assessed the worst communication as being about the resident's wishes for medical treatment at the end of life, with the lowest rate of satisfied relatives in Finland (37.6%).
CONCLUSION: The relatives' perception of the quality of end-of-life communication with physicians differs between countries. However, in all countries, physicians' communication needs to be improved, especially regarding resident's wishes for medical care at the end of life.
IMPLICATIONS: Training in end-of-life communication to physicians providing care for LTCF residents is recommended.
Background: Opioids, antipsychotics and hypnotics are recommended for comfort care in dying. We studied their prescription during the last 3 days in residents deceased in the long-term care facility (LTCF).
Methods: In a retrospective, cross-sectional survey in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, LTCFs, selected by proportional stratified random sampling, reported all deaths over the previous 3 months. The nurse most involved in the residents' care reviewed the chart for opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription, cause of death and comorbidities. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to adjust for resident characteristics.
Results: Response rate was 81.6%. We included 1079 deceased residents in 322 LCTFs. Opioid prescription ranged from 18.5% (95% CI: 13.0-25.8) of residents in Poland to 77.9% (95% CI: 69.5-84.5) in the Netherlands, antipsychotic prescription from 4.8% (95% CI: 2.4-9.1) in Finland to 22.4% (95% CI: 14.7-32.4) in Italy, hypnotic prescription from 7.8% (95% CI: 4.6-12.8) in Finland to 47.9% (95% CI: 38.5-57.3) in the Netherlands. Differences in opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription between countries remained significant (P < 0.001) when controlling for age, gender, length of stay, cognitive status, cause of death in multilevel, multivariable analyses. Dying from cancer showed higher odds for receiving opioids (OR 3.51; P < 0.001) and hypnotics (OR 2.10; P = 0.010).
Conclusions: Opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription in the dying phase differed significantly between six European countries. Further research should determine the appropriateness of their prescription and refine guidelines especially for LTCF residents dying of non-cancer diseases.
BACKGROUND: Nursing homes are among the most common places of death in many countries.
AIM: To determine the quality of dying and end-of-life care of nursing home residents in six European countries.
DESIGN: Epidemiological survey in a proportionally stratified random sample of nursing homes. We identified all deaths of residents of the preceding 3-month period.
MAIN OUTCOMES: quality of dying in the last week of life (measured using End-of-Life in Dementia Scales - Comfort Assessment while Dying (EOLD-CAD)); quality of end-of-life care in the last month of life (measured using Quality of Dying in Long-Term Care (QoD-LTC) scale). Higher scores indicate better quality.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred and twenty-two nursing homes in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and England. Participants were staff (nurses or care assistants) most involved in each resident's care.
RESULTS: Staff returned questionnaires regarding 1384 (81.6%) of 1696 deceased residents. The End-of-Life in Dementia Scales – Comfort Assessment while Dying mean score (95% confidence interval) (theoretical 14–42) ranged from 29.9 (27.6; 32.2) in Italy to 33.9 (31.5; 36.3) in England. The Quality of Dying in Long-Term Care mean score (95% confidence interval) (theoretical 11–55) ranged from 35.0 (31.8; 38.3) in Italy to 44.1 (40.7; 47.4) in England. A higher End-of-Life in Dementia Scales – Comfort Assessment while Dying score was associated with country (p = 0.027), older age (p = 0.012), length of stay 1 year (p = 0.034), higher functional status (p < 0.001). A higher Quality of Dying in Long-Term Care score was associated with country (p < 0.001), older age (p < 0.001), length of stay 1 year (p < 0.001), higher functional status (p = 0.002), absence of dementia (p = 0.001), death in nursing home (p = 0.033).
CONCLUSION: The quality of dying and quality of end-of-life care in nursing homes in the countries studied are not optimal. This includes countries with high levels of palliative care development in nursing homes such as Belgium, the Netherlands and England.
The provision of institutional long-term care for older people varies across Europe reflecting different models of health care delivery. Care for dying residents requires integration of palliative care into current care work, but little is known internationally of the different ways in which palliative care is being implemented in the care home setting.
Objectives: To identify and classify, using a new typology, the variety of different strategic, operational, and organizational activities related to palliative care implementation in care homes across Europe. Design and methods: the authors undertook a mapping exercise in 29 European countries, using 2 methods of data collection: (1) a survey of country informants, and (2) a review of data from publically available secondary data sources and published research. Through a descriptive and thematic analysis of the survey data, they identified factors that contribute to the development and implementation of palliative care into care homes at different structural levels. From these data, a typology of palliative care implementation for the care home sector was developed and applied to the countries surveyed.
Results: We identified 3 levels of palliative care implementation in care homes: macro (national/regional policy, legislation, financial and regulatory drivers), meso (implementation activities, such as education, tools/frameworks, service models, and research), and micro (palliative care service delivery). This typology was applied to data collected from 29 European countries and demonstrates the diversity of palliative care implementation activity across Europe with respect to the scope, type of development, and means of provision. We found that macro and meso factors at 2 levels shape palliative care implementation and provision in care homes at the micro organizational level.
Conclusions: Implementation at the meso and micro levels is supported by macro-level engagement, but can happen with limited macro strategic drivers. Ensuring the delivery of consistent and high-quality palliative care in care homes is supported by implementation activity at these 3 levels. Understanding where each country is in terms of activity at these 3 levels (macro, meso, and micro) will allow strategic focus on future implementation work in each country.