This paper is aimed at focusing on the writings and the experience of the Hospice movement Founder, Dame Cicely Saunders. The in-depth analysis carried out had the objective of verifying if "the way" of Cicely to understand, live and propose palliative care was still current and "beautiful", so that we can nowadays refer to her fascinating "Original Palliative Care". With "beauty" we mean, on the one hand, a way able to allow a personal path of research of the meaning of the disease and of the care, both for those who care and for those who are cared for. On the other hand, it seems to us that Cicely strongly suggests how this path can not be carried out alone, but is only possible within the context of a network of relationships and support, in a so called "relational autonomy", for the patient, included in a "care ethics". The authors believe that the work extensively documents as the overall approach of Cicely, traditional but always to be rediscovered, is still today the most convincing way of conception and action of palliative care.
Aim: To investigate the association between a hospital palliative care unit assessment and hospital outcome.
Methods: This was a prospective cohort study. Data were assessed from all patients treated and followed by the hospital palliative care team (HPCT) from November 2016 until December 2017.
Results: The mean age of the 588 patients was 73.15±13.6 years. All of the patients included in the study were referred to palliative care. A large proportion of patients were affected by cancer, 69.7% (410), while 30.3% (178) were affected by an advanced chronic illness. The three most frequent cancers were: gastrointestinal (n=81, 19.8%), gynaecological (n=66, 16.1%) and lung (n=63, 15.4%); the three most frequent chronic advanced diseases were: advanced dementia (n=45, 25.3%), severe ischaemic/haemorrhagic stroke (n=36, 20.2%) and severe heart failure (n=25, 15.3%). The majority of patients were in clinical wards (n=476, 81.0%) and the average length of stay was 22.9 days. Hospital outcome trends were evaluated in terms of length of stay and number of deaths that occurred in the hospital. In particular, length of stay decreased from 25.8 days to 18.1 days, hospital death from 13 to 0 during the time that the HPCT assessed patients for an appropriate discharge.
Conclusion: The HPCT is an effective means of managing patients affected by severe illness, reducing the number of deaths that occur within the hospital, long periods of hospitalisation and instances of readmission. However, further studies are required to fully assess the impact of an HPCT on hospital outcomes.
A consensus document on early palliative care was produced by a committed Working Group of the Italian Society of Medical Oncology and the Italian Society of Palliative Care to improve the early integration of palliative care in medical oncology and to stimulate and guide the choices of those who daily face the problems of advanced stage cancer patients. The simultaneous administration of antineoplastic treatments and early palliative care was shown to be beneficial in metastatic cancer pathway outcomes. Patients who could benefit from early palliative care are those with an advanced cancer at presentation, a compromised PS for cancer, and/or morbidities, and who are too frail to receive treatment. According to the Bruera practice models, in which the combination of cancer management with early palliative care can be offered, three groups of patients needing simultaneous care were identified and three different models of the delivery of palliative care were proposed. In patients with good prognosis and low need of simultaneous care, the solo practice model and the request for consultations were suggested, while in patients with poor prognosis disease with high need of simultaneous care and in conditions with high need of simultaneous care, regardless of cancer prognosis, the integrated care approach should be offered. Palliative care consultation services are seldom accessible in the majority of Italian hospitals; thus the application of various practice models depends on available resources, and a shared care model with the structures of palliative care operating in the area is often required.