Background: Over the past two decades, the number of hospitals with palliative care has increased significantly.
Objective: This study analyzes the availability of palliative care in U.S. hospitals and examines the variation by hospital characteristics, community-level socioeconomic demographics, health care markets, and geographic characteristics.
Methods: Data were obtained from the American Hospital Association Annual Survey Database for 2017 and supplemented with 2016 for nonresponders, the United States Census Bureau's 2017 American Community Survey, the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care's 2016 Spending and 2011 Hospital and Physician Capacity datasets, the National Palliative Care Registry™, state-level directories on palliative care, and web-based searches. Multivariable logistic regression and average marginal effects were used to examine predictors of hospital palliative care programs.
Results: Seventy-two percent of hospitals with 50 or more beds had palliative care programs. Hospital and geographic characteristics were significantly associated with the presence of palliative care. Most notably, nonprofit hospitals were 24.5 percentage points more likely than for-profit hospitals to have palliative care, and metropolitan areas were 15.4 percentage points more likely than rural areas, controlling for other variables.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that availability of palliative care in U.S. hospitals is determined by where patients live and the type of hospital to which they are admitted. Equitable and reliable availability to quality palliative care must improve across the nation.
The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has put significant strain on all aspects of health care delivery, including palliative care services. Given the high mortality from this disease, particularly in the more vulnerable members of society, it is important to examine how best to deliver a high standard of end-of-life care during this crisis. This case series collected data from two acute hospitals examining the management of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who subsequently died (n = 36) and compared this with national and local end-of-life audit data for all other deaths. Our results demonstrated a shorter dying phase (38.25 hours vs. 74 hours) and higher rates of syringe driver use (72% vs. 33% in local audits), although with similar average mediation doses. Of note was the significant heterogeneity in the phenotype of deterioration in the dying phase, two distinct patterns emerged, with one group demonstrating severe illness with a short interval between symptom onset and death and another group presenting with a more protracted deterioration. This brief report suggests a spectrum of mode of dying. Overall, the cohort reflects previously described experiences, with increased frailty (median Clinical Frailty Scale score of 5) and extensive comorbidity burden. This brief report provides clinicians with a contemporaneous overview of our experience, knowledge, and pattern recognition when caring for people with COVID-19 and highlights the value of proactive identification of patients and risk of deterioration and palliation.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has spread throughout the world, leading hospitals to expand their critical-care capacity. Logistics in times of surging demand are challenging. Health-care providers are overwhelmed by the relentless workload and tend to focus on the patients, as they have little time for family-centred care.
In many places, a nearly complete lockdown combined with stringent social distancing measures have been put in place in an attempt to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital visits are prohibited to ensure that relatives do not contaminate other family members, patients, or health-care professionals. However, the burden on intensive care unit (ICU) relatives of patients with COVID-19 is particularly heavy. The lockdown imposed by many governments can result in confusion, stress, frustration, anger, communication gaps, and post-traumatic stress-related symptoms.
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Background: Palliative care is becoming an important component for infants with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families. Yet palliative care practices appear to be inconsistent and sporadically used for infants.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the use of an established pediatric palliative care team for seriously ill infants in a metropolitan hospital.
Methods: This was a retrospective medical record review.
Findings: The population included 64 infants who were admitted to a level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and then died during hospitalization between January 2015 and December 2016. Most infants died in an ICU (n = 63, 95%), and only 20 infants (31%) received palliative care consultation. Most common reasons for consultation were care coordination, defining goals of care and end-of-life planning, and symptom management.
Implications for Practice: Palliative care consultation at this institution did not change the course of end-of-life care. Interventions provided by the ICU team to infants surrounding end of life were similar to those in infants receiving palliative care services from the specialists. Our findings may be useful for developing guidelines regarding how to best utilize palliative care services for infants with life-threatening conditions who are admitted to an ICU.
Implications for Research: These finding support continued research in neonatal palliative care, more specifically the impact of palliative care guidelines and algorithms.
Objective: Meeting the preferences of patients is considered an important palliative care outcome. Prior studies reported that more than 80% of patients with terminally ill cancer prefer to die at home. The purpose of this study was to determine place-of-death preference among palliative care patients in the outpatient centre and the palliative care unit (PCU) of a comprehensive cancer centre.
Methods: A cross-sectional anonymous questionnaire was administered to patients with advanced cancer and caregivers (PCU and outpatient centre) between August 2012 and September 2014. PCU patients responded when there was no delirium and the primary caregiver responded when the patient was unable to respond. In the case of outpatients, dyads were assessed. The survey was repeated 1 month later.
Results: Overall, 65% preferred home death. There was less preference for home death among PCU patients (58%) than among outpatients (72%). Patient and caregiver agreement regarding preferred place of death for home was 86%. After 1 month, outpatients were significantly more likely than PCU patients to have the same preferred place of death as they had 1 month earlier (96% vs 83%; p=0.003).
Conclusions: Although home was the preferred place of death in our group of patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers, a substantial minority preferred hospital death or had no preference. We speculate that PCU patients’ higher preference for hospital death is likely related to more severe distress because they had already tried home care. Personalised assessment of place of death preference for both patient and caregiver is needed.
As coronavirus disease 2019 cases increase throughout the country and health care systems grapple with the need to decrease provider exposure and minimize personal protective equipment use while maintaining high-quality patient care, our specialty is called on to consider new methods of delivering inpatient palliative care (PC). Telepalliative medicine has been used to great effect in outpatient and home-based PC but has had fewer applications in the inpatient setting. As we plan for decreased provider availability because of quarantine and redeployment and seek to reach increasingly isolated hospitalized patients in the face of coronavirus disease 2019, the need for telepalliative medicine in the inpatient setting is now clear. We describe our rapid and ongoing implementation of telepalliative medicine consultation for our inpatient PC teams and discuss lessons learned and recommendations for programs considering similar care models.
Rationale: The care of critically ill patients often involves complex discussions surrounding prognosis, goals, and end-of-life decision making. Yet, physician and hospital practice patterns, rather than patient goals, remain a major determinant of the intensity of end-of-life care. For critically ill patients, palliative care may help promote treatments that are concordant with patients’ goals, while minimizing the use of invasive and costly intensive care unit resources that may not be consistent with those goals.
Objectives: To determine whether inpatient palliative care, delivered by specialist consultants or a primary medical team, is associated with reduced hospital length-of-stay and costs for older adults with septic shock at the end of life.
Methods: Retrospective cohort using the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) 2013-2014, examining patients aged = 65 years with septic shock who died during their hospitalization. The exposure of interest was inpatient palliative care encounter, including either generalist or specialist-delivered palliative care. Outcomes were hospital length-of-stay, total cost for the hospitalization, and daily hospital cost. Patient and hospital-level confounders were used to derive inverse probability of treatment weights and estimate the association between palliative care and outcomes in a generalized linear model.
Results: We studied 45,868 patients who died with a diagnosis of septic shock; 15,370 of these patients had a palliative care encounter. After inverse probability of treatment weighting, there were no appreciable differences between the population characteristics. Palliative care was associated with a shorter adjusted mean hospital length-of-stay (12.0 vs 13.1 days, difference -1.1 days, 95% CI -1.4 to -0.9; P <0.001), lower total hospital costs (69,700 vs 76,800 USD, difference -7,100 USD, 95% CI -8.5 to -5.2 thousand USD; P <0.001) and lower daily hospital cost (5,900 vs 6,200 USD, difference -310 USD per day, 95% CI -420 to -200 USD; P<0.001) when compared to no palliative care.
Conclusions: In a nationally representative sample of adults who died during a hospitalization with septic shock, receipt of palliative care was associated with shorter length-of-stay and lower total and daily hospital costs. This finding was robust to adjustment for patient and hospital-level confounders, though unmeasured confounders still could be impacting these findings.
Le livre est indéniablement associé à l’enfance, au rituel du coucher où les parents commencent souvent par un « Il était une fois ». L’objectif de cet article est de montrer le rôle que la littérature de jeunesse peut jouer auprès des enfants de tout âge, hospitalisés, gravement malades ou en fin de vie ainsi qu’auprès de leur fratrie. L’enfant s’approprie le livre différemment selon son âge : si un nourrisson aura un rapport sensoriel au livre (essentiellement le toucher et l’ouïe), l’enfant se laissera emporter par l’histoire, oubliant pour un temps la douleur liée aux soins. Quant aux adolescents et jeunes adultes, leur identification à un personnage qui les comprend, qui vit la même chose, pourra leur permettre de faire face à la fin de vie à un âge de tous les possibles.
L'ancien ministre de la Santé propose une réflexion sur l'avenir de la médecine et notamment l'impact de l'intelligence artificielle, de la biotechnologie, des neurosciences, des capteurs connectés ou des impressions de tissus en 3D.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Usage of hospice services for patients facing life-limiting illness has steadily increased. In these services, hospitals discharge patients to various hospice settings, including the inpatient model, where a patient may remain in the discharging hospital to receive hospice services. In this discharge practice, the patient is considered a hospital survivor and subsequent hospice death. The purpose of the study was to determine if the decline of in-hospital mortality for six common high-volume admission diagnoses could be attributed in part to an increase in discharges to a hospice setting for end-of-life care. In this retrospective study using the National Inpatient Sample database from 2007 to 2011, we identified patients = 18 years for six acute and chronic diagnoses: heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute myocardial infarction, acute myocardial infarction with cardiogenic shock, septic shock, and lung neoplasm (cancer). We categorized patients according to their hospital discharge disposition as hospice or in-hospital mortality. A total of 10,458,728 patients met our criteria, of which 2.72% were discharged to hospice and 6.38% died. Compared to patients who died in the hospital, hospice patients were older, had a shorter length of stay, and experienced more comorbidities. Hospice use was more common in Medicare patients, in nonteaching hospitals, and in the South. White individuals were more likely to be discharged to hospice compared to nonwhites. Among the six selected diagnoses over the 5-year period, hospice use rose as observed mortality decreased. Our findings suggest that variability among hospitals in hospice use will affect benchmarked hospital mortality comparisons and could inappropriately reward or penalize hospitals in their public reporting.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the regional variation in hospital care utilization in the last 6 months of life of Dutch patients with lung cancer and to test whether higher degrees of hospital utilization coincide with less general practitioner (GP) and long-term care use.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional claims data study.
SETTING: The Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients deceased in 2013-2015 with lung cancer (N = 25 553).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We calculated regional medical practice variation scores, adjusted for age, gender and socioeconomic status, for radiotherapy, chemotherapy, CT-scans, emergency room contacts and hospital admission days during the last 6 months of life; Spearman Rank correlation coefficients measured the association between the adjusted regional medical practice variation scores for hospital admissions and ER contacts and GP and long-term care utilization.
RESULTS: The utilization of hospital services in high-using regions is 2.3-3.6 times higher than in low-using regions. The variation was highest in 2015 and lowest in 2013. For all 3 years, hospital care was not significantly correlated with out-of-hospital care at a regional level.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospital care utilization during the last 6 months of life of patients with lung cancer shows regional medical practice variation over the course of multiple years and seems to increase. Higher healthcare utilization in hospitals does not seem to be associated with less intensive GP and long-term care. In-depth research is needed to explore the causes of the variation and its relation to quality of care provided at the level of daily practice.
BACKGROUND: Despite a broad consensus and recommendations, numerous international reports or studies have shown the difficulties of implementing palliative care within healthcare services. The objective of this study was to understand the palliative approach of registered nurses in hospital medical and surgical care units and their use of mobile palliative care teams.
METHODS: Qualitative study using individual in depth semi-structured interviews and focus group of registered nurses. Data were analyzed using a semiopragmatic phenomenological analysis. Expert nurses of mobile palliative care team carried out this study. 20 registered nurses from three different hospitals in France agreed to participate.
RESULTS: Nurses recognize their role as being witnesses to the patient's experience through their constant presence. This is in line with their professional values and gives them an "alert role" that can anticipate a patient-centered palliative approach. The physician's positioning on palliative care plays a key role in its implementation. The lack of recognition of the individual role of the nurse leads to a questioning of her/his professional values, causing inappropriate behavior and distress. According to nurses, "rethinking care within a team environment" allows for the anticipation of a patient-centered palliative approach. Mobile Palliative Care Team highlights the major role of physicians-nurses "balance" while providing personal and professional support.
CONCLUSIONS: The Physician's positioning and attitude toward palliative approach sets the tone for its early implementation and determines the behavior of different staff members within healthcare service. "Recognition at work", specifically "recognition of the individual role of nurse" is an essential concept for understanding what causes the delay in the implementation of a palliative approach. Interprofessional training (physicians and nurses) could optimize sharing expertise. Registered nurses consider MPCT as a "facilitating intermediary" within the healthcare service improving communication. Restoring a balance in sharing care and decision between physicians and other caregivers lead care teams to an anticipated and patient-centered palliative approach according to guidelines.
BACKGROUND: Frailty and palliative performance scores are 2 markers used in the measurement of functional decline in oncology and hospice care.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the frailty and palliative performance scores of a long-term care resident community and determine whether frailty and palliative performance scores can predict hospital readmissions (HR) and survivability of the long-term care resident.
METHODS: One hundred seventy-one long-term care residents from 2 urban facilities were evaluated for functional decline using the Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) and Palliative Performance Scale (PPS). Sociodemographic, HR, and survival data for 1 year from study initiation were recorded.
RESULTS: The 171 long-term care residents, of lower socioeconomic status, primarily Medicare/Medicaid or dual-eligible, evaluated for functional decline using the CFS and PPS, had mean age of 73.1 years, 52.6% female, 94.7% African American, with 18.1% having HR and 87.1% surviving more than a year. There was a negative association between age and HR (P = .384). Among functional evaluation scales, CFS was positively associated with age (P = .013) but not PPS (P = .673). The residents scored 6.0 ± 1.2 on CFS and 52.8 ± 13.2 on PPS (%) with those residents readmitted to hospital having poorer outcomes. Readmission to hospital and survivability of the long-term care resident were both strongly associated with CFS (P = .001) and PPS (P = .001).
CONCLUSION: There is a strong association between the 2 markers used in the measurement of functional decline-Frailty measured by CFS and Palliative Performance Score measured by PPS. Frailty and palliative performance scores can strongly predict HR and survivability of the long-term care resident.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer greatly care about where they will die. Most people in Japan preferred their location of death as their homes. But only 8.2% of patients with cancer spend their last days at home with palliative care in Japan. Many patients with cancer are still going to spend their last days at a hospital (81.7%).
OBJECTIVE: We examined the survival times of such patients according to their place of death; that is, whether they died at home, at a hospice, or at a hospital, and investigated patient characteristics.
RESULTS: Among the 313 patients recruited, 214 were analyzed in this study: 90, 49, and 75 received hospital-based, home-based, and hospice-based palliative care, respectively. The patients who died at a hospice exhibited significantly longer survival than those who died at hospital (estimated median survival time, 420 days [95% confidence interval [CI]: 325-612 days] versus 252 days [95% CI: 201-316 days]; P < .0001). The characteristics of patients did not differ significantly according to place of death.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients who died at a hospice or at home exhibited significantly longer survival than those who died at a hospital for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
In this issue of JAMA, Lee and colleagues examine the association between Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), which involve portable medical orders that document treatment limitations for out-of-hospital emergency care and for limiting overtreatment at the end of life. The authors studied adults with chronic life-limiting illnesses who were hospitalized within the last 6 months of life and who had completed a POLST before their last inpatient admission. Among 1818 patients enrolled, 656 (36%) had POLST orders for “full treatment” and 1162 had orders for either “limited additional interventions” (761 [42%]) or “comfort measures only” (401 [22%]). Among the combined latter 2 groups, 472 (41%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), 436 (38%) received POLST-discordant intensive care, and 204 (18%) received POLST-discordant life-sustaining treatments, defined as mechanical ventilation, vasoactive infusions, new renal replacement therapy, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Patients with cancer or dementia were less likely to receive POLST-discordant intensive care, whereas patients hospitalized for traumatic injuries were more likely to receive POLST-discordant intensive care. These results are sobering.
Importance: Patients with chronic illness frequently use Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) to document treatment limitations.
Objectives: To evaluate the association between POLST order for medical interventions and intensive care unit (ICU) admission for patients hospitalized near the end of life.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Retrospective cohort study of patients with POLSTs and with chronic illness who died between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2017, and were hospitalized 6 months or less before death in a 2-hospital academic health care system.
Exposures: POLST order for medical interventions ("comfort measures only" vs "limited additional interventions" vs "full treatment"), age, race/ethnicity, education, days from POLST completion to admission, histories of cancer or dementia, and admission for traumatic injury.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the association between POLST order and ICU admission during the last hospitalization of life; the secondary outcome was receipt of a composite of 4 life-sustaining treatments: mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, dialysis, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. For evaluating factors associated with POLST-discordant care, the outcome was ICU admission contrary to POLST order for medical interventions during the last hospitalization of life.
Results: Among 1818 decedents (mean age, 70.8 [SD, 14.7] years; 41% women), 401 (22%) had POLST orders for comfort measures only, 761 (42%) had orders for limited additional interventions, and 656 (36%) had orders for full treatment. ICU admissions occurred in 31% (95% CI, 26%-35%) of patients with comfort-only orders, 46% (95% CI, 42%-49%) with limited-interventions orders, and 62% (95% CI, 58%-66%) with full-treatment orders. One or more life-sustaining treatments were delivered to 14% (95% CI, 11%-17%) of patients with comfort-only orders and to 20% (95% CI, 17%-23%) of patients with limited-interventions orders. Compared with patients with full-treatment POLSTs, those with comfort-only and limited-interventions orders were significantly less likely to receive ICU admission (comfort only: 123/401 [31%] vs 406/656 [62%], aRR, 0.53 [95% CI, 0.45-0.62]; limited interventions: 349/761 [46%] vs 406/656 [62%], aRR, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.71-0.87]). Across patients with comfort-only and limited-interventions POLSTs, 38% (95% CI, 35%-40%) received POLST-discordant care. Patients with cancer were significantly less likely to receive POLST-discordant care than those without cancer (comfort only: 41/181 [23%] vs 80/220 [36%], aRR, 0.60 [95% CI, 0.43-0.85]; limited interventions: 100/321 [31%] vs 215/440 [49%], aRR, 0.63 [95% CI, 0.51-0.78]). Patients with dementia and comfort-only orders were significantly less likely to receive POLST-discordant care than those without dementia (23/111 [21%] vs 98/290 [34%], aRR, 0.44 [95% CI, 0.29-0.67]). Patients admitted for traumatic injury were significantly more likely to receive POLST-discordant care (comfort only: 29/64 [45%] vs 92/337 [27%], aRR, 1.52 [95% CI, 1.08-2.14]; limited interventions: 51/91 [56%] vs 264/670 [39%], aRR, 1.36 [95% CI, 1.09-1.68]). In patients with limited-interventions orders, older age was significantly associated with less POLST-discordant care (aRR, 0.93 per 10 years [95% CI, 0.88-1.00]).
Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients with POLSTs and with chronic life-limiting illness who were hospitalized within 6 months of death, treatment-limiting POLSTs were significantly associated with lower rates of ICU admission compared with full-treatment POLSTs. However, 38% of patients with treatment-limiting POLSTs received intensive care that was potentially discordant with their POLST.
BACKGROUND: Volunteers make a major contribution to palliative care but little is known specifically about hospital palliative care volunteers.
AIM: The aim of this study was to understand the role and experience of hospital palliative care volunteers.
DESIGN: Systematic review and narrative synthesis.
DATA SOURCES: CINAHL, Embase, Medline, PsycINFO, PubMed and three dissertation databases were searched from inception to June 2019. A forward and backward search of included papers in key journals was also undertaken. Records were independently assessed against inclusion criteria by authors. Included papers were assessed for quality, but none were excluded.
RESULTS: In total, 14 papers were included. Hospital palliative care volunteers were mostly female, aged above 40 years, and training varied considerably. Volunteers faced unique challenges in supporting dying patients due to the nature of hospital care, rapid patient turnover and the once-off nature of support. Volunteer roles were diverse, with some providing hands-on care, but most focused on 'being with' the dying patient. Volunteers were appreciated for providing psychosocial support, seen as complementary to, rather than replacing the work of health professionals. Given volunteers were often required to work across multiple wards, establishing positive work relationships with health professionals was challenging. Divergent views about whether the volunteer was part of or external to the team impacted volunteers' experience and perceptions of the value of their contribution.
CONCLUSION: Hospital palliative care volunteers face unique challenges in supporting terminally ill patients. Volunteer support in hospital settings is possible and appropriate, if sufficient support is available to mitigate the challenges associated with complex, high-acuity care.
Objective: To explore medical doctors' experiences of, and attitudes to, use of morphine for palliative care at a tertiary hospital in Zambia.
Methods: A qualitative, exploratory case study was undertaken. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 14 medical doctors working in the fields of oncology, paediatrics, and internal medicine at a tertiary hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, regarding their experiences and attitudes to prescribing morphine for palliative care. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts was carried out to establish common themes in the data. The study was approved by BSMS and UNZA research ethics committees.
Results: All participants agreed that doctors were becoming more comfortable with the prescribing of morphine, although experiences were notably different for doctors working in oncology, compared to other departments. Themes of difficulty discussing end-of-life, poor recognition of pain, and fear of patient addiction, were more prominent in the responses of non-cancer doctors. Morphine use was generally restricted to cancer and sickle cell disease patients, with most non-cancer doctors stating that they rarely prescribe morphine for outpatient use. Training in pain management, and the presence of a palliative care team, were perceived to be facilitators to morphine prescribing.
Conclusions: Although there is an increased willingness to prescribe morphine, limited knowledge of pain management, especially for non-malignant disease, underlies many of the findings in this study. Opportunity exists for professional development in pain management to further improve the acceptance and use of opioids in palliative care, especially for out-patients.
BACKGROUND: Evaluations of complex interventions compared to usual care provided in palliative care are increasing. Not describing usual care may affect the interpretation of an intervention's effectiveness, yet how it can be described remains unclear.
AIM: To demonstrate the feasibility of using multi-methods to describe usual care provided in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of complex interventions, shown within a feasibility cluster RCT.
DESIGN: Multi-method approach comprising usual care questionnaires, baseline case note review and focus groups with ward staff completed at study end. Thematic analysis of qualitative data, descriptive statistics of quantitative data, followed by methodological triangulation to appraise approach in relation to study aim.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Four general medical wards chosen from UK hospitals. Purposive sampling of healthcare professionals for usual care questionnaires, and focus groups. Review of 20 patients’ notes from each ward who died during admission or within 100 days of discharge.
RESULTS: Twenty-three usual care questionnaires at baseline, two focus groups comprising 20 healthcare professionals and 80 case note reviews. Triangulation of findings resulted in understanding the usual care provided to the targeted population in terms of context, structures, processes and outcomes for patients, families and healthcare professionals. Usual care was described, highlighting (1) similarities and embedded practices, (2) heterogeneity and (3) subtle changes in care during the trial within and across sites.
CONCLUSIONS: We provide a feasible approach to defining usual care that can be practically adopted in different settings. Understanding usual care enhances the reliability of tested complex interventions, and informs research and policy priorities.
BACKGROUND: Care home residents are increasingly frail with complex health and social care needs. Their transfer to hospital at the end-of-life can be associated with unwanted interventions and distress. However, hospitals do enable provision of care that some residents wish to receive. We aimed to explore the factors that influence hospital admission of care home residents who then died in hospital.
METHODS: This study combined in-depth case note review of care home residents dying in two Scottish teaching hospitals during a 6-month period and semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 26 care home staff and two relatives.
RESULTS: During the 6-month period, 109 care home residents died in hospital. Most admissions occurred out-of-hours (69%) and most were due to a sudden event or acute change in clinical condition (72%). Length of stay in hospital before death was short, with 42% of deaths occurring within 3 days. Anticipatory Care Planning (ACP) regarding hospital admission was documented in 44%.Care home staff wanted to care for residents who were dying; however, uncertain trajectories of decline, acute events, challenges of ACP, relationship with family and lack of external support impeded this.
CONCLUSIONS: Managing acute changes on the background of uncertain trajectories is challenging in care homes. Enhanced support is required to improve and embed ACP in care homes and to provide rapid, 24 hours-a-day support to manage difficult symptoms and acute changes.