New approaches are needed to assist residential aged care (RAC) staff increase their skills and confidence in identifying when residents are nearing the dying phase and managing symptoms. One new evidence-based approach to improve palliative and end-of-life care in RAC is outreach Specialist Palliative Care Needs Rounds (monthly triage and risk stratification meetings – hereafter Needs Rounds); as yet untried in rural settings which may face unique enablers or challenges. Needs Rounds were introduced into two RAC facilities in the rural Snowy Monaro region of New South Wales, Australia. This study explored staff and general practitioners’(GPs’) experiences and perceptions of palliative and end-of-life care in rural RAC, and staff confidence and capability in providing such care, prior to, and after the introduction of Needs Rounds. A mixed-methods, pre- and post-intervention approach was taken, utilizing a Likert-scale written questionnaire and face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Between March and November 2018, 61 questionnaires were completed by 48 RAC staff (33 pre-, 28 post-intervention); eight staff and three GPs were interviewed. Despite system and site-specific barriers, staff self-reported that Needs Rounds increased their capability in providing end-of-life care (p = 0.04; 95% CI 0.20–7.66), and improved staff: (1) awareness of end of life, reflective practice, and critical thinking; (2) end-of-life decision making and planning; and (3) pain management. Needs Rounds are acceptable and feasible in rural RAC. Palliative and end-of-life care for residents may be improved through education, collaboration, communication, and planning. Further studies should explore running Needs Rounds via telehealth and/or utilizing a multidisciplinary approach.
BACKGROUND: At the end of life, cancer survivors often experience exacerbations of complex comorbidities requiring acute hospital care. Few studies consider comorbidity patterns in cancer survivors receiving palliative care.
AIM: To identify patterns of comorbidities in cancer patients receiving palliative care and factors associated with in-hospital mortality risk.
DESIGN, SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: New South Wales Admitted Patient Data Collection data were used for this retrospective cohort study with 47,265 cancer patients receiving palliative care during the period financial year 2001-2013. A latent class analysis was used to identify complex comorbidity patterns. A regression mixture model was used to identify risk factors in relation to in-hospital mortality in different latent classes.
RESULTS: Five comorbidity patterns were identified: 'multiple comorbidities and symptoms' (comprising 9.1% of the study population), 'more symptoms' (27.1%), 'few comorbidities' (39.4%), 'genitourinary and infection' (8.7%), and 'circulatory and endocrine' (15.6%). In-hospital mortality was the highest for 'few comorbidities' group and the lowest for 'more symptoms' group. Severe comorbidities were associated with elevated mortality in patients from 'multiple comorbidities and symptoms', 'more symptoms', and 'genitourinary and infection' groups. Intensive care was associated with a 37% increased risk of in-hospital deaths in those presenting with more 'multiple comorbidities and symptoms', but with a 22% risk reduction in those presenting with 'more symptoms'.
CONCLUSION: Identification of comorbidity patterns and risk factors for in-hospital deaths in cancer patients provides an avenue to further develop appropriate palliative care strategies aimed at improving outcomes in cancer survivors.
Background: Palliative care (PC) medical and nursing professionals are potentially the most death literate group in the community yet little is known about their personal uptake of advance care planning (ACP) or written advance care directives (ACDs). Aim: To describe Australian and New Zealand PC medical and nursing professionals’ participation in personal ACP activities. Method: Between 12 May 2014 and 6 June 2014 an anonymous cross sectional online survey about personal ACP activities was distributed to Australian and New Zealand PC medical and nursing professionals.Results: The survey link was emailed to 946 medical and nursing PC health professionals with 329 (35%) recipients commencing the survey. Ninety-one percent of participating Australian and New Zealand PC medical and nursing health professionals have engaged in some form of ACP; 21% have a written ACD. Over 80% of those without a current ACD have engaged in an ACP conversation with family or significant others. Thirty percent of doctors did not feel an ACD was relevant for them, 29% considered them a low priority, 27% relied on conversations and 14% felt ACDs were poorly designed or ineffective. These proportions were 15%, 44%, 36%, and 2%, respectively for nurses.Conclusion: This study supports the notion that familiarity with ACP increases overall participation however, it does not support the popular view that familiarity with ACDs ensures uptake. The favoured mode of ACP amongst this group of health professionals was a conversation outlining values and preferences with family or significant others.