BACKGROUND: Family caregivers provide the majority of care for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the palliative care phase. For many this is a demanding experience, affecting their quality of life.
OBJECTIVE: We set out to map the experiences of bereaved family caregivers during the period of informal care in the palliative care phase as well as after the death of their loved one with PD.
METHODS: Ten bereaved family caregivers participated in this qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used executed.
RESULTS: We identified four main themes. 1) Feeling like a professional caregiver: while caring for a person with PD, the family caregivers took over many roles and tasks of the person with PD.2) Healthcare professionals do not always know what PD really means. Most interviewees had negative experiences with knowledge and understanding of PD of, especially, (practice) nurses. 3) Being on your own: many respondents had felt highly responsible for their loved one's care and lacked time and space for themselves. Grief and feelings of guilt were present during the caregiving period and after death. 4) Being behind the times: to provide palliative care in line with patients' preferences and to feel prepared for the palliative care phase of PD, proactive palliative care planning was considered important. However, the interviewees told that this was most often not provided.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that caring for a person with PD in the palliative care phase is a demanding experience for family caregivers. They experience psychological problems for many years before and after the death of the person with PD. Increasing healthcare professionals' awareness of family and bereaved caregivers' needs may mitigate these long-term detrimental effects.
BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and neurodegenerative disease associated with a wide variety of symptoms. The risk of complications increases with progression of the disease. These complications have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of people with PD. The aim of this study was to examine health care professionals' experiences of potential barriers and facilitators in providing palliative care for people with PD in the Netherlands.
METHODS: This was a qualitative descriptive study. The data were collected from 10 individual in-depth interviews and three focus groups (n = 29) with health care professionals. Health care professionals were selected based on a positive answer to the question: “In the past 2 years, did you treat or support a person with PD who subsequently died?” The data were analyzed by thematic text analysis.
RESULTS: Health care professionals supported the development of a palliative care system for PD but needed to better understand the essence of palliative care. In daily practice, they struggled to identify persons' needs due to interfering PD-specific symptoms such as cognitive decline and communication deficits. Timely addressing the personal preferences for providing palliative care was identified as an important facilitator. Health care professionals acknowledged being aware of their lack of knowledge and of their little competence in managing complex PD. Findings indicate a perceived lack of care continuity, fragmentation of services, time pressure and information discontinuity.
CONCLUSIONS: Health care professionals experienced several facilitators and barriers to the provision of palliative care to people with PD. There is a need to improve the knowledge on complex PD and the continuity of information, as well as optimize coordination and deliver care based on a persons' preferences. Additional training can help to become more knowledgeable and confident.
BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder with many intractable consequences for patients and their family caregivers. Little is known about the possibilities that palliative care could offer to patients and their proxies. Guidelines strongly recommend palliative care to improve the quality of life and - if needed - the quality of dying. However, providing palliative care to persons with PD involves specific challenges. For example, a timely initiation of palliative interventions is difficult because due to the gradually progressive nature of PD, there is often no clear marker for the transition from curative towards palliative care. Furthermore, there is little evidence to indicate which palliative care interventions are effective. Here, we describe the contours of a study that aims to examine the experiences of patients, (bereaved) family caregivers and professionals, with the aim of improving our knowledge about palliative care needs in PD.
METHODS/DESIGN: We will perform a mixed methods study to evaluate the experiences of patients, (bereaved) family caregivers and palliative care professionals. In this study, we focus on Quality of Life, Quality of Care, perceived symptoms, caregiver burden and collaboration between professionals. In phase 1, we will retrospectively explore the views of bereaved family caregivers and professionals by conducting individual interviews and focus group interviews. In phase 2, 5-15 patients with PD and their family caregiver will be followed prospectively for 8-12 months. Data collection will involve semi-structured interviews and questionnaires at three consecutive contact moments. Qualitative data will be audio recorded, transcribed and analyzed using CAQDAS. If patients pass away during the study period, a bereavement interview will be done with the closest family caregiver.
DISCUSSION: This study will offer a broad perspective on palliative care, and the results can be used to inform a palliative care protocol for patients with PD. By describing the experiences of patients, (bereaved) family caregivers and professionals with palliative care, this investigation will also establish an important ground for future intervention research.