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.
Family carers play a central role in community-based palliative care. However, caring for a terminally ill person puts the carer at increased risk of physical and mental morbidity. The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) enables comprehensive assessment of carer support needs. The present study aimed to identify barriers and facilitators to implementing the CSNAT in a community specialist palliative care service. Semi-structured interviews with 12 palliative care nurse specialists from two community nursing teams in Lothian, Scotland, June 2017. Data was audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed. Palliative care nurse specialists acknowledge the importance of carers in palliative care and encourage carer support practices. Nurses perceived the CSNAT as useful, but used it as an 'add-on' to current practice, rather than as a new approach to carer-led assessment. Further training is recommended to ensure community palliative care nurses are familiar with the broader CSNAT approach.