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.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the occurrence rates of clinical events and their associations with comfort in dying nursing home residents with and without dementia.
Methods: Epidemiological after-death survey was performed in nationwide representative samples of 322 nursing homes in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and England. Nursing staff reported clinical events and assessed comfort. The nursing staff or physician assessed the presence of dementia; severity was determined using two highly discriminatory staff-reported instruments.
Results: The sample comprised 401 residents with advanced dementia, 377 with other stages of dementia, and 419 without dementia (N = 1197). Across the three groups, pneumonia occurred in 24 to 27% of residents. Febrile episodes (unrelated to pneumonia) occurred in 39% of residents with advanced dementia, 34% in residents with other stages of dementia and 28% in residents without dementia (P = .03). Intake problems occurred in 74% of residents with advanced dementia, 55% in residents with other stages of dementia, and 48% in residents without dementia (P < .001). Overall, these three clinical events were inversely associated with comfort. Less comfort was observed in all resident groups who had pneumonia (advanced dementia, P = .04; other stages of dementia, P = .04; without dementia, P < .001). Among residents with intake problems, less comfort was observed only in those with other stages of dementia (P < .001) and without dementia (P = .003), while the presence and severity of dementia moderated this association (P = .03). Developing “other clinical events” was not associated with comfort.
Conclusions: Discomfort was observed in dying residents who developed major clinical events, especially pneumonia, which was not specific to advanced dementia. It is crucial to identify and address the clinical events potentially associated with discomfort in dying residents with and without dementia.
OBJECTIVES: Dementia is a progressive incurable life-limiting illness. Previous research suggests end-of-life care for people with dementia should have a symptomatic focus with an effort to avoid burdensome interventions that would not improve quality of life. This study aims to assess the appropriateness of end-of-life care in people who died with dementia in Belgium and to establish relative performance standards by measuring validated population-level quality indicators.
DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective observational study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: We included all persons deceased with dementia in 2015 in Belgium. Data from 8 administratively collected population-level databases was linked.
MEASURES: We used a validated set of 28 quality indicators for end-of-life dementia care. We compared quality indicator scores across 14 healthcare regions to establish relative benchmarks.
RESULTS: In Belgium in 2015, 10,629 people died with dementia. For indicators of appropriate end-of-life care, people who died with dementia had on average 1.83 contacts with their family physician in the last week before death, whereas 68.4% died at home or in their nursing home of residence. For indicators of inappropriate end-of-life care, 32.4% were admitted to the hospital and 36.3% underwent diagnostic testing in the last 30 days before death, whereas 25.1% died in the hospital. In the last 30 days, emergency department admission varied between 19% and 31%, dispensing of gastric protectors between 18% and 42%, and antihypertensives between 40% and 53% between healthcare regions, with at least 25% of health regions below 46%.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our study found indications of appropriate as well as inappropriate end-of-life care in people with dementia, including high rates of family physician contact, as well as high percentages of diagnostic testing, and emergency department and hospital admissions. We also found high risk-adjusted variation for multiple quality indicators, indicating opportunity for quality improvement in end-of-life dementia care.
Importance: High-quality evidence on how to improve palliative care in nursing homes is lacking.
Objective: To investigate the effect of the Palliative Care for Older People (PACE) Steps to Success Program on resident and staff outcomes.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A cluster-randomized clinical trial (2015-2017) in 78 nursing homes in 7 countries comparing PACE Steps to Success Program (intervention) with usual care (control). Randomization was stratified by country and median number of beds in each country in a 1:1 ratio.
Interventions: The PACE Steps to Success Program is a multicomponent intervention to integrate basic nonspecialist palliative care in nursing homes. Using a train-the-trainer approach, an external trainer supports staff in nursing homes to introduce a palliative care approach over the course of 1 year following a 6-steps program. The steps are (1) advance care planning with residents and family, (2) assessment, care planning, and review of needs and problems, (3) coordination of care via monthly multidisciplinary review meetings, (4) delivery of high-quality care focusing on pain and depression, (5) care in the last days of life, and (6) care after death.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary resident outcome was comfort in the last week of life measured after death by staff using the End-of-Life in Dementia Scale Comfort Assessment While Dying (EOLD-CAD; range, 14-42). The primary staff outcome was knowledge of palliative care reported by staff using the Palliative Care Survey (PCS; range, 0-1).
Results: Concerning deceased residents, we collected 551 of 610 questionnaires from staff at baseline and 984 of 1178 postintervention in 37 intervention and 36 control homes. Mean (SD) age at time of death ranged between 85.22 (9.13) and 85.91 (8.57) years, and between 60.6% (160/264) and 70.6% (190/269) of residents were women across the different groups. Residents’ comfort in the last week of life did not differ between intervention and control groups (baseline-adjusted mean difference, -0.55; 95% CI, -1.71 to 0.61; P = .35). Concerning staff, we collected 2680 of 3638 questionnaires at baseline and 2437 of 3510 postintervention in 37 intervention and 38 control homes. Mean (SD) age of staff ranged between 42.3 (12.1) and 44.1 (11.7) years, and between 87.2% (1092/1253) and 89% (1224/1375) of staff were women across the different groups. Staff in the intervention group had statistically significantly better knowledge of palliative care than staff in the control group, but the clinical difference was minimal (baseline-adjusted mean difference, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.02-0.05; P < .001). Data analyses began on April 20, 2018.
Conclusions and Relevance: Residents' comfort in the last week of life did not improve after introducing the PACE Steps to Success Program. Improvements in staff knowledge of palliative care were clinically not important.
Trial Registration: ISRCTN Identifier: ISRCTN14741671.
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.
BACKGROUND: By 2030, 30% of the European population will be aged 60 or over and those aged 80 and above will be the fastest growing cohort. An increasing number of people will die at an advanced age with multiple chronic diseases. In Europe at present, between 12 and 38% of the oldest people die in a long-term care facility. The lack of nationally representative empirical data, either demographic or clinical, about people who die in long-term care facilities makes appropriate policy responses more difficult. Additionally, there is a lack of comparable cross-country data; the opportunity to compare and contrast data internationally would allow for a better understanding of both common issues and country-specific challenges and could help generate hypotheses about different options regarding policy, health care organization and provision. The objectives of this study are to describe the demographic, facility stay and clinical characteristics of residents dying in long-term care facilities and the differences between countries.
METHODS: Epidemiological study (2015) in a proportionally stratified random sample of 322 facilities in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and England. The final sample included 1384 deceased residents. The sampled facilities received a letter introducing the project and asking for voluntary participation. Facility manager, nursing staff member and treating physician completed structured questionnaires for all deaths in the preceding 3 months.
RESULTS: Of 1384 residents the average age at death ranged from 81 (Poland) to 87 (Belgium, England) (p < 0.001) and length of stay from 6 months (Poland, Italy) to 2 years (Belgium) (p < 0.05); 47% (the Netherlands) to 74% (Italy) had more than two morbidities and 60% (England) to 83% (Finland) dementia, with a significant difference between countries (p < 0.001). Italy and Poland had the highest percentages with poor functional and cognitive status 1 month before death (BANS-S score of 21.8 and 21.9 respectively). Clinical complications occurred often during the final month (51.9% England, 66.4% Finland and Poland).
CONCLUSIONS: The population dying in long-term care facilities is complex, displaying multiple diseases with cognitive and functional impairment and high levels of dementia. We recommend future policy should include integration of high-quality palliative and dementia care.
Context: To provide high-quality palliative care to nursing home residents, staff need to understand the basic principles of palliative care.
Objectives: to evaluate the extent of agreement with the basic principles of palliative care of nurses and care assistants working in nursing homes in five European countries and to identify correlates.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study in 214 homes in Belgium, England, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. Agreement with basic principles of palliative care was measured with the Rotterdam MOVE2PC. We calculated percentages and odds ratios of agreement and an overall score between 0 (no agreement) and 5 (total agreement).
Results: Most staff in all countries agreed that palliative care involves more than pain treatment (58% Poland to 82% Belgium) and includes spiritual care (62% Italy to 76% Belgium) and care for family or relatives (56% Italy to 92% Belgium). Between 51% (the Netherlands) and 64% (Belgium) correctly disagreed that palliative care should start in the last week of life and 24% (Belgium) to 53% (Poland) agreed that palliative care and intensive life-prolonging treatment can be combined. The overall agreement score ranged between 1.82 (Italy) and 3.36 (England). Older staff (0.26; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.09–0.43, P = 0.003), nurses (0.59; 95% CI: 0.43–0.75, P < 0.001), and staff who had undertaken palliative care training scored higher (0.21; 95% CI: 0.08–0.34, P = 0.002).
Conclusions: The level of agreement of nursing home staff with basic principles of palliative care was only moderate and differed between countries. Efforts to improve the understanding of basic palliative care are needed.
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: While the need for palliative care in long-term care facilities is growing, it is unknown whether palliative care in this setting is sufficiently developed.
AIM: To describe and compare in six European countries palliative care provision in long-term care facilities and to assess associations between patient, facility and advance care planning factors and receipt and timing of palliative care.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional after-death survey regarding care provided to long-term care residents in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Generalized estimating equations were used for analyses.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Nurses or care assistants who are most involved in care for the resident.
RESULTS: We included 1298 residents in 300 facilities, of whom a majority received palliative care in most countries (England: 72.6%-Belgium: 77.9%), except in Poland (14.0%) and Italy (32.1%). Palliative care typically started within 2 weeks before death and was often provided by the treating physician (England: 75%-the Netherlands: 98.8%). A palliative care specialist was frequently involved in Belgium and Poland (57.1% and 86.7%). Residents with cancer, dementia or a contact person in their record more often received palliative care, and it started earlier for residents with whom the nurse had spoken about treatments or the preferred course of care at the end of life.
CONCLUSION: The late initiation of palliative care (especially when advance care planning is lacking) and palliative care for residents without cancer, dementia or closely involved relatives deserve attention in all countries. Diversity in palliative care organization might be related to different levels of its development.
BACKGROUND: End-of-life care practices in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) are the focus of growing attention in Europe, due to rapidly increasing number of older persons living in LTCFs. The knowledge about end-of-life discussions or existence of written advance directives in the European LTCFs is scarce. This study's aim is to investigate the prevalence of written advance directives and their sociodemographic associates, among recently deceased LTCF residents, in six European countries.
METHODS: Data from the European Union-funded PACE database were collected from 322 LTCFs in six European countries in 2014. The assessments were performed by using two questionnaires designed for LTCF administrative staff and for staff member.LTCFs were selected within each country by using proportional stratified random sampling procedure. Facilities with certain types and sizes were included from each country.Multilevel multivariate analyses were performed to evaluate associations between written advance directives and selected predictors.
RESULTS: In total, 32.5 % of the 1384 deceased LTCF residents had a written advance directive with a range from 0% to 77 % between countries. The proportion of the most common advance directive, 'Do not resuscitate in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest (DNR)', varied correspondingly from 0% to 75%.LTCF type (OR 2.86 95% CI 1.59 to 5.23) and capability of expressing at the time of admission (OR 3.26 95% CI 2.26 to 4.71) were the independent predictors for advance directive. Residents living in LTCFs where physician was available were less likely to have advance directive compared with residents from LTCFs where physician was not available.
CONCLUSION: Extensive differences for prevalence of written advance directive exist between countries among older LTCF residents in Europe. Timely and appropriate response to LTCF resident's health needs and preferences efforts advance care planning.
OBJECTIVES: Recent studies have shown that the early provision of palliative care (PC) integrated into oncology in the hospital has beneficial effects on the quality of life of people who are dying and their family caregivers. However, a model to integrate palliative home care (PHC) early in oncology care is lacking. Therefore, our aim is to develop the Early Palliative Home care Embedded in Cancer Treatment (EPHECT) intervention.
METHODS: We conducted a phase 0-1 study according to the Medical Research Council framework. Phase 0 consisted of a literature search on existing models for early integrated PC, and focus groups with PHC teams to investigate experiences with being introduced earlier. In phase 1, we developed a complex intervention to support the early integration of PHC in oncology care, based on the results of phase 0. The intervention components were reviewed and refined by professional caregivers and stakeholders.
RESULTS: Phase 0 resulted in components underpinning existing interventions. Based on this information, we developed an intervention in phase 1 consisting of: (1) information sessions for involved professionals, (2) general practitioner as coordinator of care, (3) regular and tailored home consultations by the PHC team, (4) a semistructured conversation guide to facilitate consultations, and (5) interprofessional and transmural collaboration.
CONCLUSION: Taking into account the experiences of the PHC teams with being involved earlier and the components underpinning successful interventions, the EPHECT intervention for the home setting was developed. The feasibility and acceptability of the intervention will be tested in a phase II study.
BACKGROUND: End-of-life conversations are rarely initiated by care staff in long-term care facilities. A possible explanation is care staff's lack of self-efficacy in such conversations. Research into the determinants of self-efficacy for nurses and care assistants in end-of-life communication is scarce and self-efficacy might differ between care staff of mental health facilities, nursing homes, and care homes. This study aimed to explore differences between care staff in mental health facilities, nursing homes, and care homes with regard to knowledge about palliative care, time pressure, and self-efficacy in end-of-life communication, as well as aiming to identify determinants of high self-efficacy in end-of-life communication.
METHODS: Two cross-sectional Dutch studies, one in mental health facilities and one in nursing and care homes (PACE study). Nurses and care assistants were invited to complete a questionnaire in 2015. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to identify determinants of high self-efficacy.
RESULTS: Five hundred forty one nurses and care assistants completed a survey; 137 worked in mental health facilities, 172 in nursing homes, and 232 in care homes. Care staff at mental health facilities were the most knowledgeable about the World Health Organization’s definition of palliative care: 76% answered 4–5 out of 5 items correctly compared to 38% of nursing home staff and 40% of care home staff (p < 0.001). Around 60% of care staff in all settings experienced time pressure. Care staff had high self-efficacy regarding end-of-life communication with patients: the overall mean score across all facilities was 5.47 out of 7 (standard deviation 1.25). Determinants of high self-efficacy were working in a mental health facility, age > 36, female, with formal palliative care training, and knowledge of the palliative care definition.
CONCLUSION: Mental healthcare staff knew more about palliative care and had higher self-efficacy in end-of-life communication compared to nursing and care home staff. Educating care staff about providing palliative care and training them in it might improve end-of-life communication in these facilities.
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.
BACKGROUND: An ageing population in the EU leads to a higher need of long-term institutional care at the end of life. At the same time, healthcare costs rise while resources remain limited. Consequently, an urgency to extend our knowledge on factors affecting efficiency of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) arises. This study aims to investigate and explain variation in technical efficiency of end-of-life care within and between LTCFs of six EU countries: Belgium (Flanders), England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. In this study, technical efficiency reflects the LTCFs' ability to obtain maximal quality of life (QoL) and quality of dying (QoD) for residents from a given set of resource inputs (personnel and capacity).
METHODS: Cross-sectional data were collected by means of questionnaires on deceased residents identified by LTCFs over a three-month period. An output-oriented data-envelopment analysis (DEA) was performed, producing efficiency scores, incorporating personnel and capacity as input and QoL and QoD as output. Scenario analysis was conducted. Regression analysis was performed on explanatory (country, LTCF type, ownership, availability of palliative care and opioids) and case mix (disease severity) variables.
RESULTS: 133 LTCFs of only one type (onsite nurses and offsite GPs) were considered in order to reduce heterogeneity. Variation in LTCF efficiency was found across as well as within countries. This variation was not explained by country, ownership, availability of palliative care or opioids. However, in the 'hands-on care at the bedside' scenario, i.e. only taking into account nursing and care assistants as input, Poland (p = 0.00) and Finland (p = 0.04) seemed to be most efficient.
CONCLUSIONS: Efficiency of LTCFs differed extensively across as well as within countries, indicating room for considerable efficiency improvement. Our findings should be interpreted cautiously, as comprehensive comparative EU-wide research is challenging as it is influenced by many factors.
BACKGROUND: The provision of high-quality palliative care in nursing homes (NHs) is a major challenge and places demands on the knowledge and skills of the staff.
AIM: This study assesses the palliative care knowledge of staff in NHs in Europe.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using structured survey Setting/participants: Nurses and care assistants working in 322 representative samples of NHs in Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Finland, Poland and Italy. Palliative care knowledge is measured with the Palliative Care Survey. Scores on the scales range between 0 and 1; higher scores indicate more knowledge.
RESULTS: A total of 3392 NH-staff were given a questionnaire, and 2275 responded (67%). Knowledge of basic palliative care issues ranged between 0.20 in Poland (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.19; 0.24) and 0.61 in Belgium (95% CI 0.59; 0.63), knowledge of physical aspects that can contribute to pain ranged between 0.81 in Poland (95% CI 0.79; 0.84) and 0.91 in the Netherlands (95% CI 0.89; 0.93), and knowledge of psychological reasons that can contribute to pain ranged between 0.56 in England (95% CI 0.50; 0.62) and 0.87 in Finland (95% CI 0.83; 0.90). Factors associated with knowledge were country, professional role and having undertaken formal training in palliative care.
CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge of nurses and care assistants concerning basic palliative care issues appears to be suboptimal in all participating countries, although there is substantial heterogeneity. Education of nursing staff needs to be improved across, but each country may require its own strategy to address the unique and specific knowledge gaps.
INTRODUCTION: Large-scale evaluations of the quality of end-of-life care in people with COPD are lacking. By means of a validated set of quality indicators, this study aims to: 1. Assess appropriateness of end-of-life care in people dying from COPD, 2. Examine variation between care regions, 3. Establish performance standards.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective observational study of all deaths from COPD (ICD10 codes J41-J44) in 2012 in Belgium, using data from administrative population-level databases. QI scores were risk-adjusted for comparison between care regions.
RESULTS: 4,231 people died from COPD. During the last 30 days of life, 60% was admitted to hospital, 11.8% received specialized palliative care. Large regional variation was found in specialized palliative care use (4.0% to 32.0%) and diagnostic testing in the last 30 days of life (44.0% to 69.7%). Based on best performing quartile scores, relative standards were set (e.g. =54.9% for diagnostic testing)
CONCLUSION: Our study found indications of inappropriate end-of-life care in people with COPD, such as high percentages of diagnostic testing and hospital admissions and low proportions receiving specialized palliative care. Risk-adjusted variation between regions was high for several QIs, indicating the usefulness of relative performance standards to improve quality of end-of-life COPD care.
Background: measuring the quality of primary palliative care for older people with dementia in different countries is important to identify areas where improvements can be made.
Objective: using quality indicators (QIs), we systematically investigated the overall quality of primary palliative care for older people with dementia in three different countries.
Design/setting: a mortality follow-back survey through nation- and region-wide representative Sentinel Networks of General Practitioners (GPs) in Belgium, Italy and Spain. GPs registered all patient deaths in their practice. We applied a set of nine QIs developed through literature review and expert consensus.
Subjects: patients aged 65 or older, who died non-suddenly with mild or severe dementia as judged by GPs (n = 874).
Results: findings showed significantly different QI scores between Belgium and Italy for regular pain measurement (mild dementia: BE = 44%, IT = 12%, SP = 50% | severe dementia: BE = 41%, IT = 9%, SP = 47%), acceptance of approaching death (mild: BE = 59%, IT = 48%, SP = 33% | severe: BE = 41%, IT = 21%, SP = 20%), patient-GP communication about illness (mild: BE = 42%, IT = 6%, SP = 20%) and involvement of specialised palliative services (mild: BE = 60%, IT = 20%, SP = 77%). The scores in Belgium differed from Italy and Spain for patient-GP communication about medical treatments (mild: BE = 34%, IT = 12%, SP = 4%) and repeated multidisciplinary consultations (mild: BE = 39%, IT = 5%, SP = 8% | severe: BE = 36%, IT = 10%, SP = 8%). The scores for relative-GP communication, patient death outside hospitals and bereavement counselling did not differ between countries.
Conclusion: while the countries studied differed considerably in the overall quality of primary palliative care, they have similarities in room for improvement, in particular, pain measurement and prevention of avoidable hospitalisations.
BACKGROUND: Several studies have highlighted the need for improvement in palliative care delivered to older people long-term care facilities. However, the available evidence on how to improve palliative care in these settings is weak, especially in Europe. We describe the protocol of the PACE trial aimed to 1) evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the 'PACE Steps to Success' palliative care intervention for older people in long-term care facilities, and 2) assess the implementation process and identify facilitators and barriers for implementation in different countries.
METHODS: We will conduct a multi-facility cluster randomised controlled trial in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and England. In total, 72 facilities will be randomized to receive the 'Pace Steps to Success intervention' or to 'care as usual'. Primary outcome at resident level: quality of dying (CAD-EOLD); and at staff level: staff knowledge of palliative care (Palliative Care Survey).
SECONDARY OUTCOMES: resident's quality of end-of-life care, staff self-efficacy, self-perceived educational needs, and opinions on palliative care. Economic outcomes: direct costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Measurements are performed at baseline and after the intervention. For the resident-level outcomes, facilities report all deaths of residents in and outside the facilities over a previous four-month period and structured questionnaires are sent to (1) the administrator, (2) staff member most involved in care (3) treating general practitioner, and (4) a relative. For the staff-level outcomes, all staff who are working in the facilities are asked to complete a structured questionnaire. A process evaluation will run alongside the effectiveness evaluation in the intervention group using the RE-AIM framework.
DISCUSSION: The lack of high quality trials in palliative care has been recognized throughout the field of palliative care research. This cross-national cluster RCT designed to evaluate the impact of the palliative care intervention for long-term care facilities 'PACE Steps to Success' in seven countries, will provide important evidence concerning the effectiveness as well as the preconditions for optimal implementation of palliative care in nursing homes, and this within different health care systems.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered at www.isrctn.com - ISRCTN14741671 (FP7-HEALTH-2013-INNOVATION-1 603111) Registration date: July 30, 2015.
Background: Over 50% of elderly people die in acute hospital settings, where the quality of end-of-life care is often suboptimum. The authors aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Care Programme for the Last Days of Life (CAREFuL) at improving comfort and quality of care in the dying phase in elderly people.
Methods: they did a cluster randomised controlled trial in acute geriatric wards in ten hospitals in Flemish Region, Belgium, between Oct 1, 2012, and March 31, 2015. Hospitals were randomly assigned to implementation of CAREFuL (CAREFuL group) or to standard care (control group) using a random number generator. Patients and families were masked to interventaion allocation; hospital staff were unmasked. CAREFuL comprised a care guide for the last days of life, training, supportive documentation, and an implementation guide. Primary outcomes were comfort around dying, measured with the End-of-Life in Dementia–Comfort Assessment in Dying (CAD-EOLD), and symptom management, measured with the End-of-Life in Dementia–Symptom Management (SM-EOLD), by nurses and family carers. Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01890239. Findings: 451 (11%) of 4241 beds in ten hospitals were included in the analyses. Five hospitals were randomly assigned to standard health care practice and five to the CAREFuL programme; 118 patients in the control group and 164 in the CAREFuL group were eligible for assessment. Assessments were done for 132 (80%) of 164 patients in the CAREFuL group and 109 (92%) of 118 in the control group by nurses, and 48 (29%) in the CAREFuL group and 23 (19%) in the control group by family carers. Implementation of CAREFuL compared with control significantly improved nurse-assessed comfort (CAD-EOLD baseline-adjusted mean difference 4·30, 95% CI 2·07–6·53; p<0·0001). No significant differences were noted for the CAD-EOLD assessed by family carers (baseline-adjusted mean difference -0·62, 95% CI -6·07 to 4·82; p=0·82) or the SM-EOLD assessed by nurses -0·41, -1·86 to 1·05; p=0·58) or by family carers -0·59, -3·75 to 2·57; p=0·71). Interpretation: Although a continuous monitoring of the programme is warranted, these results suggest that implementation of CAREFuL might improve care during the last days of life for patients in acute geriatric hospital wards. Funding: The Flemish Government Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology and the Belgian Cancer Society “Kom Op Tegen Kanker”.