Background: Hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) experience high presentation rates from older adults residing in Aged Care Facilities (ACFs), yet very few intervention studies have addressed the care needs of this population group. We designed and implemented a nurse-led model of care for older adults from ACFs, and determined its impact on patient outcomes.
Methods: This 12-month pre–post intervention study was conducted during 2013–2014, with follow-up during 2015–2016. Participants included all older adults presenting from ACFs to the ED of Mater Hospital Brisbane (MHB), Australia. Frailty status was determined using the Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS).
Results: All participants were frail (n = 1130), with 19% severely frail, 55% very-severely frail, and 26% terminally ill. The intervention resulted in several improvements in patient outcomes, including significant reductions in ward admissions and 28-day representation rates.
Conclusion: Significant improvements can be achieved by integration of an acute frail older person service into an ED.
Policy Points: We identified two overarching classifications of integrated geriatric and palliative care to maximize older people's quality of life at the end of life. Both are oriented to person-centered care, but with differing emphasis on either function or symptoms and concerns. Policymakers should both improve access to palliative care beyond just the last months of life and increase geriatric care provision to maintain and optimize function. This would ensure that continuity and coordination for potentially complex care needs across the continuum of late life would be maintained, where the demarcation of boundaries between healthy aging and healthy dying become increasingly blurred. Our findings highlight the urgent need for health system change to improve end-of-life care as part of universal health coverage. The use of health services should be informed by the likelihood of benefits and intended outcomes rather than on prognosis.
CONTEXT: In an era of unprecedented global aging, a key priority is to align health and social services for older populations in order to support the dual priorities of living well while adapting to a gradual decline in function. We aimed to provide a comprehensive synthesis of evidence regarding service delivery models that optimize the quality of life (QoL) for older people at the end of life across health, social, and welfare services worldwide.
METHODS: We conducted a rapid scoping review of systematic reviews. We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, and CDSR databases from 2000 to 2017 for reviews reporting the effectiveness of service models aimed at optimizing QoL for older people, more than 50% of whom were older than 60 and in the last one or two years of life. We assessed the quality of these included reviews using AMSTAR and synthesized the findings narratively.
RESULTS: Of the 2,238 reviews identified, we included 72, with 20 reporting meta-analysis. Although all the World Health Organization (WHO) regions were represented, most of the reviews reported data from the Americas (52 of 72), Europe (46 of 72), and/or the Western Pacific (28 of 72). We identified two overarching classifications of service models but with different target outcomes: Integrated Geriatric Care, emphasizing physical function, and Integrated Palliative Care, focusing mainly on symptoms and concerns. Areas of synergy across the overarching classifications included person-centered care, education, and a multiprofessional workforce. The reviews assessed 117 separate outcomes. A meta-analysis demonstrated effectiveness for both classifications on QoL, including symptoms such as pain, depression, and psychological well-being. Economic analysis and its implications were poorly considered.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite their different target outcomes, those service models classified as Integrated Geriatric Care or Integrated Palliative Care were effective in improving QoL for older people nearing the end of life. Both approaches highlight the imperative for integrating services across the care continuum, with service involvement triggered by the patient's needs and likelihood of benefits. To inform the sustainability of health system change we encourage economic analyses that span health and social care and examine all sources of finance to understand contextual inequalities.
BACKGROUND: Older people with multimorbidities are projected to be the main recipients of palliative care in the coming decades. However, because their specific palliative care needs are poorly understood and service response is underdeveloped, older people with multimorbidity are less likely to receive palliative care. Innovative specialist palliative care services are developing to address this gap, but with little underpinning evidence. Therefore the aim of this paper is to describe the clinical characteristics, symptoms and other concerns of older people with multi-morbidity referred to a new community palliative care service; and to explore possible implications for service delivery by comparing this service population with people receiving standard community-based specialist palliative care.
METHODS: Cross-sectional study comparing routinely collected demographic, clinical, and point-of-care patient-level outcomes data [Phase of Illness, Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) and Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale] across an innovative palliative service-Bromley Care Coordination (BCC) with patients in the standard specialist community palliative care (SC). Composite case studies of BCC patients provide more in-depth illustration of results.
RESULTS: Compared with patients who received Standard Care, patients seen by BCC were more often female, older and with a non-malignant diagnosis (16% cancer in BCC versus 72% cancer in SC). Patients across the two services had a similar symptom profile at first contact in the pairwise complete case analysis. SC patients reported more frequently pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, anxiety and family concern, and BCC patients reported more frequently mobility concerns. Functional status was lower for BCC patients on entry into the service (AKPS 40 median versus SC AKPS of 50). BCC patients stayed longer in each phase of illness (56 days median versus SC 41 days), with a more unpredictable subsequent phase.
CONCLUSIONS: The population of older people with multimorbidity has not been routinely recognized as having specialist palliative care needs. However, this evaluation shows that, at first contact, the symptoms and concerns across both service populations was surprisingly similar. Nevertheless, patterns of symptoms may differ between populations over time. Longitudinal prospective data are needed to examine these changes overtime, and the relationship with multimorbidity.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care patients are often described as complex but evidence on complexity is limited. We need to understand complexity, including at individual patient-level, to define specialist palliative care, characterise palliative care populations and meaningfully compare interventions/outcomes.
AIM: To explore palliative care stakeholders' views on what makes a patient more or less complex and insights on capturing complexity at patient-level.
DESIGN: In-depth qualitative interviews, analysed using Framework analysis.
PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Semi-structured interviews across six UK centres with patients, family, professionals, managers and senior leads, purposively sampled by experience, background, location and setting (hospital, hospice and community).
RESULTS: 65 participants provided an understanding of complexity, which extended far beyond the commonly used physical, psychological, social and spiritual domains. Complexity included how patients interact with family/professionals, how services' respond to needs and societal perspectives on care. 'Pre-existing', 'cumulative' and 'invisible' complexity are further important dimensions to delivering effective palliative and end-of-life care. The dynamic nature of illness and needs over time was also profoundly influential. Adapting Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory, we categorised findings into the microsystem (person, needs and characteristics), chronosystem (dynamic influences of time), mesosystem (interactions with family/health professionals), exosystem (palliative care services/systems) and macrosystem (societal influences). Stakeholders found it acceptable to capture complexity at the patient-level, with perceived benefits for improving palliative care resource allocation.
CONCLUSION: Our conceptual framework encompasses additional elements beyond physical, psychological, social and spiritual domains and advances systematic understanding of complexity within the context of palliative care. This framework helps capture patient-level complexity and target resource provision in specialist palliative care.