Death doulas (DD) are working with people at the end of life in varied roles with more clarity needed around their role and place within the health and social care systems. The aim of this work is to explore the DD role in end-of-life care from the perspective of DDs. A sub-group of 20 DDs from a larger quantitative survey participated in semi-structured telephone Skype or Zoom interviews. Interview data were analysed using thematic analysis. Seven themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: what a DD offers, what a DD does, challenges and barriers, occupational preferences, family support, contract of service/fee and regulation. There is a general perception that healthcare professionals (HCP) do not understand what it is that DDs do; thus, the current study has helped to demystify the DD role and potentially reduce suspicion. The lack of a DD business model sees inconsistencies in what services each DD offers and what patients and families can expect. End of life is complex and confusing for patients and families and there is a need to further explore the DD role and how it can work when there are many inconsistencies in working practice. More research is required to look at the interplay among DDs, HCPs and palliative care volunteers in addressing the gaps in care provision and how these relationships might be more seamlessly managed.
Providing quality care for those dying in hospital is challenging for health professionals who receive little training in this. "End of Life Essentials" (EOLE) was developed to address gaps in health professionals' knowledge, skills and confidence in end-of-life care via the provision of online learning modules and practice resources. This study aimed to determine whether respondents could describe clinical practice change as a result of module completion. Deidentified data were collected between October and November 2018 from learners registered for the online learning modules. Both quantitative and qualitative data were extracted and analysed. The survey design and conduct were reviewed, and ethical approval was obtained. Although the response rate was very low, results from n = 122 learners show improvements in knowledge, skills, awareness and confidence as a result of the undertaking of the learning modules. Two thirds self-reported practice changes (71%, n = 59) following the education, with "communication" cited most commonly (n = 19). The findings suggest that the EOLE education modules can help to improve end-of-life care by increasing health professionals' awareness of good practice as well as their knowledge, skills and confidence. Online learning has also been reinforced as an appropriate forum for end-of-life education. Following education, implementing what has been learned occurs more easily at a personal level rather than at a team and organisational level. Barriers to and enablers of clinical practice change in hospital are described, including the fact that the organisation may not be responsive to changes or have the relevant resources to support change.
Globally, the number of older people requiring appropriate and safe management of medicines is growing. This review aimed to identify the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists supporting older people living in a community setting with their palliative care needs and to synthesise key themes emerging from the data, as well as any gaps in knowledge. The literature search included Medline (Ovid), Scopus, and Cinahl (Ebsco) databases. An English language limit was applied. The search included all international articles and any date of publication. Data were synthesised utilizing a systematic text condensation technique and presented according to Theme, Domain, and Meaning Units. Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Selected papers predominantly focused on care provided by the pharmacists supporting people receiving residential aged care services. Clinical review, supply of medicines, and clinical governance were identified as key pharmacist roles. Pharmacists' communication skills, personal behavioural approach, and positive attitude emerged as supportive characteristics for effective person-centered care. Minimal, or no information, were available related to pharmacists located in general medical practices and in Aboriginal health services sector, respectively. The multifaceted role of pharmacists presents an opportunity to provide comprehensive health care for older populations at the end of their life.
BACKGROUND: Complex social and ethical debates about voluntary assisted dying (euthanasia), palliative care, and advance care planning are presently being worked through in many developed countries, and the policy implications of these discussions for palliative care are potentially very significant. However, community attitudes to death and dying are complex, multilayered, and contain many mixed messages.
METHODS: Participants posted comments in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on death and dying, entitled Dying2Learn. This provided an opportunity to explore societal and personal attitudes to wishes and beliefs around death and dying. For one activity in the MOOC, participants responded to a question asking them about "the best way to go".
RESULTS: Responses were subjected to thematic analysis, during which they were coded for conceptual categories. This analysis showed how acceptance of death as a natural and normal process, and as a shared event that affects a whole social network, may nonetheless be accompanied by deep reluctance to address the physical process of dying (i.e., "avoidant acceptance").
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlighted a desire for choice and control in relation to dying, which is a common element in discussions of both advance care planning and palliative care. This same focus may contribute to a perception that voluntary assisted dying/euthanasia is a necessary strategy for ensuring that people have control over their dying process. We discuss the paradox of individuals wanting to have control whilst preferring not to know that they are dying.
BACKGROUND: CaseSearch 'My Learning' e-learning modules were designed to remind clinicians and practitioners about the role of evidence in practice and demonstrate how to find relevant evidence to make a difference in clinical care. This study aims to describe the role of the modules and their uptake, and determine whether the modules influenced the learners' palliative care practice and whether the modules were easy to use.
METHOD: Two sets of questions were designed to capture data to evaluate the modules.
FINDINGS: The modules supported the awareness and use of evidence by health professionals. The modules contribute to ongoing professional development for practitioners and can improve palliative care practice.
CONCLUSION: It is possible to collect meaningful data that contributes to understanding who uses e-learning resources and how useful healthcare professionals find them.
'Death Doulas' have emerged as a relatively new role supporting dying people and their family members; however there is a lack of clarity around how the role is enacted, and around the death doula role within health and social care systems. This study aimed to explore the ambiguity of the role of death doulas in end-of-life care including the skills, training and experience of death doulas; how the role is communicated to the community; and the relationships to palliative care providers and other health professionals. People identifying as death doulas were invited to participate in an online survey between April and June 2018. Ethical approval was obtained. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted, and purposive sampling was used to survey death doulas registered with death doula training organisations, newsletters and email distribution lists. Questions were based on the researchers' previous findings about the role. One hundred and ninety completed or partially completed surveys were received. Results showed diversity within, and some commonalities across the sample in terms of: training, experience and skills; Death doulas have emerged not only as a response to the overwhelming demands on families and carers, but also demands placed on health care professionals (including palliative care) at the end-of-life. They have identified gaps in health and social care provision, perhaps taking on tasks that health professionals don't have responsibility for. However, the roles and scope of practice of death doulas is not clear-cut even within their cohort, which can then make it hard for patients and families when choosing a death doula, especially as a lack of regulation and standardised training means that doulas are working without oversight, and often in isolation.
PURPOSE: The scope of hospice or palliative care has expanded since its inception, which has significant ramifications for the AH workforce. This study sought to elicit allied health (AH) clinicians' understanding and views about palliative care and its relevance to their clinical practice and to identify their educational needs. Results from analysis of free text survey responses to a single open-ended question from a larger survey are presented.
METHODS: An online survey was distributed to AH clinicians via email lists for the CareSearch Allied Health Hub, Allied Health Professions Australia, and other groups. Descriptive statistics and content analysis of free text responses were used to analyse the data.
RESULTS: A total of 217 AH clinicians responded to an email survey and 187 useable responses were analysed. Four themes were identified: 1) palliative care employs a client-centred model of care, 2) acknowledgement of living whilst dying, 3) interdisciplinary palliative care interventions provide active care in a range of domains, and 4) characteristics of palliative care teams and settings.
CONCLUSION: AH clinicians plan an active role in physical, social, and psycho-spiritual care of palliative care patients and caregivers. Burgeoning numbers of palliative care patients in nonspecialist palliative care settings require AH clinicians to develop skills and competencies to work with people who have advanced disease.
BACKGROUND: Physical activity in palliative care patients is closely linked to independence, function, carer burden, prognosis, and quality of life. Changes in physical activity can also be related to service provision needs, including requirements for support and prognosis. However, the objective measurement of physical activity is challenging, with options, including self-report, invasive and intensive measures such as calorimetry, or newer options such as pedometers and accelerometers. This latter option is also becoming more viable with the advent of consumer technology driven by the health and exercise industry.
OBJECTIVE: In this article, we highlight our experiences of activity monitoring in palliative care patients as part of telehealth trial. We also highlight the strengths and limitations of activity monitoring in the palliative care population and potential applications.
CONCLUSIONS: Although the advent of consumer technology for activity measurement makes their use seem attractive in clinical settings for palliative care patients, there are a number of issues that must be considered, in particular the reason for the activity monitoring and associated limitations in the technology.
Background: The study aimed to determine the effectiveness of an action-orientated toolkit in supporting behaviour change in relation to quality end-of-life care in acute hospital settings. The toolkit was developed to complement a programme of online end-of-life care education.
Methods: A toolkit was developed from an international review of peer-reviewed literature on end of life. Toolkits were distributed (n=428) to Australian healthcare professionals over a 4-week period. An online survey was sent to all recipients; 65 responses were received (16% response rate, excluding emails returned as undeliverable). Semistructured interviews (n=10) were conducted using purposeful sampling to ensure a range of views were captured. The focus of the evaluation was on investigating (1) users' responses to the toolkit and (2) individuals' reported behaviour change.
Findings: The toolkit was well received by users who reported increased confidence in communication around end-of-life matters. 59.3% of users reported making a behaviour change over the previous 4 weeks; 70.8% of those who had not made a change reported they intended to in the near future. Against expectation, the toolkit’s appeal went beyond its intended audience in acute hospital settings, for example, personal care workers in aged care settings.
Conclusions: Despite study limitations (self-report of a small, self-selected sample), these early findings suggest that the toolkit has potential to positively impact on end-of-life care practices. However, additional evaluation is needed to determine whether such a toolkit can positively impact on practice and on patient experience at the end of life.
Current health and social care systems do not always meet the needs of the dying in our communities. As a result, patients and families are choosing to place their trust in those who can advocate for them or fill the gaps in care. Birth Doulas have been working with women during pregnancy and after birth for many years, and we are now seeing a new role, that of a Death Doula emerging in the end-of-life care space. How Death Doulas work within health and social care systems is not understood and we conducted a systematic review to explore the published literature to explore the role and potential implications for models of care delivery. Following the PRISMA recommendations, we searched the literature in January 2018 via bibliographic databases and the grey literature without search date parameters to capture all published literature. We looked for articles that describe the role/work of a death doula or a death midwife in the context of end-of-life care, or death and dying. Our search retrieved 162 unique records of which five papers were included. We analysed the papers in relation to relationship to health service, funding source, number and demand for services, training, licensing and ongoing support, and tasks undertaken. Death Doulas are working with people at the end of life in varied roles that are still little understood, and can be described as similar to that of "an eldest daughter" or to a role that has similarities to specialist palliative care nurses. Death doulas may represent a new direction for personalised care directly controlled by the dying person, an adjunct to existing services, or an unregulated form of care provision without governing oversight.
A Massive Open Online Course, Dying2Learn, was designed to foster community death conversations and strengthen community awareness of palliative care and death as a normal process. This exploratory study used a pre-post prospective design to determine if participation in Dying2Learn and exposure to online conversations about death and dying resulted in any significant influence on death competence in 134 participants who completed the Coping-with-Death-Scale both at the beginning and end of the course in 2016. Death competence refers to a range of attitudes and capabilities people have for dealing with death. Results at the end of the course indicated that engagement in Dying2Learn led to significant improvements in death competence scores over time (medium-to-large effect size). The positive impact was greater for those who completed more of the course, and effectiveness did not depend on sociodemographic characteristics. In conclusion, this study found that an online learning platform in the form of a Massive Open Online Course could engage community members in meaningful social discussion about death and dying, and that exposure to these conversations was beneficial for all participants regardless of previous exposure to death. Further exploration is required to determine whether this change in death competence will have an impact on participant's behavior in the community regarding death conversations and preparedness.
BACKGROUND: Advances in medicine have helped many to live longer lives and to be able to meet health challenges. However death rates are anticipated to increase given the ageing population and chronic disease progression. Being able to talk about death is seen to be important in normalising death as part of life and supporting preparedness for death. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide opportunities for the community to engage in collaborative learning. A 5 week MOOC was developed covering four main topics (language and humour, representations of death, medicalisation of dying, and digital dying) aiming: To enable participants to openly and supportively discuss and learn about issues around living, death and dying, To explore the normally unheard opinions and views of Australians around death and dying, and To determine what effect online learning and discussions offered through the MOOC had on participants' feelings and attitudes towards death and dying.
METHODS: Data was captured on engagement rates in the various MOOC activities. Death Attitudes were measured by five items representing the MOOC's learning objectives and completed at enrolment and conclusion. MOOC Satisfaction was measured with six items at the end of the MOOC. Descriptive statistics were produced for each variable and Chi-Square Tests of Independence assessed the extent of the relationship between categorical variables. Socio-demographic variables were examined as predictors of the outcome variables of MOOC engagement, MOOC satisfaction, and death attitudes. Ethical approval was received from Flinders University Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee (Project No. 7247).
RESULTS: One thousand one hundred fifty six people enrolled in the Dying2Learn MOOC with 895 participating in some way. Enrolees were primarily female (92.1%). Age ranged from 16 to 84 (mean = 49.5, SD = 12.3). MOOC satisfaction scores were high. Responses to the experience of participating in the MOOC were very positive, with mean scores ranging from 4.3 to 4.6 (aligning with agreement and strong agreement to statements on the value of participating). Death Attitudes were positive at commencement but increased significantly following participation.
CONCLUSIONS: The Dying2Learn MOOC provided an environment that enabled open and supportive discussion around death and dying and influenced attitudinal change.