AIMS: To describe advance care planning in nursing homes when residents with cognitive impairment and/or their next of kin participated and identify associated challenges.
DESIGN: A qualitative study of nine advance care planning conversations in four Norwegian nursing home wards. During the implementation of advance care planning, we purposively sampled residents with cognitive impairment, their next of kin and healthcare personnel. The implementation followed a "whole-ward" approach aimed at involving the whole ward in fostering an inclusive, holistic advance care planning discussion. Involving as many residents as possible, preferably together with their next of kin, were central.
METHODS: From observed and audio-recorded advance care planning conversations that took place from November 2015 to June 2016, we conducted a thematic analysis of the transcripts and field notes. Reporting adhered to the COREQ guidelines.
RESULTS: Residents actively relayed their preferences regarding healthcare and end-of-life issues, despite the cognitive impairment. Next of kin provided constructive support and conversations were largely resident-focused. However, involving residents was also challenging, findings included: residents' preferences were often vague, relevant medical information from healthcare personnel lacked and the next of kin were sometimes unaware of the resident's previously held preferences. Moreover, residents tended to focus more on the past and present than the future end-of-life care.
CONCLUSIONS: Residents with cognitive impairment can participate actively and meaningfully in advance care planning, if the healthcare personnel actively listens. However, several challenges can arise. Supported decision-making can improve communication and resident involvement, reinforcing a relational understanding of autonomy.
IMPACT: Persons with cognitive impairment should be invited to participate in advance care planning. Their participation may make its benefits and more person-centred care attainable to persons that are often not involved. Successful involvement of persons with cognitive impairment in advance care planning may rely on robust implementation.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Nursing homes (NHs) care for 70% of Americans dying with dementia. Many consider deaths in NHs rather than hospitals as preferable for most of these residents. NH characteristics such as staff teamwork, communication, and other components of patient safety culture (PSC), together with state minimum NH nurse staffing requirements, may influence location of death. We examined associations between these variables and place of death (NH/hospital) among residents with dementia.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 11,957 long-stay NH residents with dementia, age 65+, who died in NHs or hospitals shortly following discharge from one of 800 US NHs in 2017. Multivariable logistic regression systematically estimated effects of PSC on odds of in-hospital death among residents with dementia, controlling for resident, NH, county, and state characteristics. Logistic regressions also determined moderating effects of state minimum NH nurse staffing requirements on relationships between key PSC domains and location of death.
RESULTS: Residents with dementia in NHs with higher PSC scores in communication openness had lower odds of in-hospital death. This effect was stronger in NHs located in states with higher minimum NH nurse staffing requirements.
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Promoting communication openness in NHs across nursing disciplines may help avoid unnecessary hospitalization at the end of life, and merits particular attention as NHs address nursing staff mix while adhering to state staffing requirements. Future research to better understand unintended consequences of staffing requirements is needed to improve end-of-life care in NHs.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Experts have suggested that patients represented by professional guardians receive higher intensity end-of-life treatment than other patients, but there is little corresponding empirical data.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Among veterans aged 65 and older who died from 2011 to 2013, we used Minimum Data Set assessments to identify those who were nursing home residents and had moderately severe or severe dementia. We applied methods developed in prior work to determine which of these veterans had professional guardians. Decedent veterans with professional guardians were matched to decedent veterans without guardians in a 1:4 ratio, according to age, sex, race, dementia severity, and nursing facility type (VA based vs non-VA).
MEASUREMENTS: Our primary outcome was intensive care unit (ICU) admission in the last 30 days of life. Secondary outcomes included mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the last 30 days of life, feeding tube placement in the last 90 days of life, three or more nursing home-to-hospital transfers in the last 90 days of life, and in-hospital death.
RESULTS: ICU admission was more common among patients with professional guardians than matched controls (17.5% vs 13.7%), but the difference was not statistically significant (adjusted odds ratio = 1.33; 95% confidence interval = .89–1.99). There were no significant differences in receipt of any other treatment; nor was there a consistent pattern. Mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation were more common among patients with professional guardians, and feeding tube placement, three or more end-of-life hospitalizations, and in-hospital death were more common among matched controls.
CONCLUSION: Rates of high-intensity treatment were similar whether or not a nursing home resident with dementia was represented by a professional guardian. This is in part because high-intensity treatment occurred more frequently than expected among patients without guardians.
OBJECTIVE: To explore family members' experiences of advance care planning in nursing homes.
DESIGN: Individual interviews. Thematic analysis.
SETTING: Four nursing homes in Sweden.
SUBJECTS: Eighteen family members of deceased nursing home patients.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Family members' experiences of advance care planning in nursing homes.
RESULTS: Family members' experiences of advance care planning in a nursing home context involved five themes: Elephant in the room, comprising end-of-life issues being difficult to talk about; Also silent understanding, e.g. patient's preferences explicitly communicated, but also implicitly conveyed. In some cases family members had a sense of the patient's wishes although preferences had not been communicated openly; Significance of small details, e.g. family members perceive everyday details as symbols of staff commitment; Invisible physician, supporting nurse, e.g. nurse being a gatekeeper, providing a first line assessment in the physician's absence; and Feeling of guilt, e.g. family members wish to participate in decisions regarding direction of care and treatment limits, and need guidance in the decisions.
CONCLUSION: Our study stresses the significance of staff involving the patient and family members in the advance care planning process in nursing homes, thereby adapting the care in line with patient's wishes, and for the patient to share these preferences with family members. Education in communication related to the subject may be important to shape advance care planning. Key points Knowledge on advance care planning (ACP) in a nursing home (NH) context from the perspective of family members is limited. Role of the nurse in ACP is seen as central, whereas physician involvement is often perceived to be lacking. Significance of small details, perceive to symbolize staff competence and respect for patient autonomy. To limit family members' feeling of guilt, communicating end-of-life issues is important in order to align ACP with patient preferences.
Objectives: Determine feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of the Palliative Care Social Worker-led ALIGN (Assessing & Listening to Individual Goals and Needs) intervention in older persons admitted to Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) and their caregivers.
Design: A pilot pragmatic randomized stepped wedge design of ALIGN versus usual care in three SNFs.
Setting and Participants: One hundred and twenty older adults and caregivers (optional) with advanced medical illnesses.
Measures: Primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability. We collected exploratory patient-/caregiver-centered outcomes at baseline and three months and conducted a medical record review at six months to assess documentation of Advance Directives (AD). We also collected exploratory health care utilization data, including hospitalizations, mortality, and hospice utilization.
Results: Of 179 patients approached, 120 enrolled (60 ALIGN patients with 15 caregivers and 60 usual care patients and 21 caregivers). Four intervention patients refused ALIGN visits, 8 patients died or discharged before initial visit, and 48 intervention patients received ALIGN visits, with [about] 80% having caregivers participating in visits, regardless of caregiver study enrollment. Quantitative exploratory outcomes were not powered to detect a difference between groups. We found 91% of ALIGN patients had a completed AD in medical record compared to 39.6% of usual care patients (p < 0.001). Qualitative feedback from participants and SNF staff supported high acceptability and satisfaction with ALIGN.
Conclusion and Clinical Implications: A pragmatic trial of the ALIGN intervention is feasible and preliminary effects suggest ALIGN is effective in increasing AD documentation. Further research is warranted to understand effects on caregivers and health care utilization. The current model for SNF does not address the palliative care needs of patients. ALIGN has potential to be an effective, scalable, acceptable, and reproducible intervention to improve certain palliative care outcomes within subacute settings.
Objective: In Singapore, more elderly are living in nursing homes (NHs), with a resultant increase in deaths occurring in NHs. However, palliative care training is limited in Singapore’s core nursing curriculum, and many NHs rely on foreign-trained staff who may not have previous palliative care training. Our study aimed to evaluate whether a needs-based course can improve the palliative care knowledge and attitudes of NH nurses in Singapore.
Methods: Twenty-five nurses participated in the study. The intervention was an 8-week palliative care course developed based on needs assessment and led by a multidisciplinary faculty. A 50-item knowledge test was administered at baseline and 0 day and 3 and 6 months postcourse. Semistructured interviews were conducted at 3 months to assess for changes in attitudes and nursing practices.
Results: The mean knowledge score increased significantly from 31.4 (±4.4) precourse to 35.1 (±5.1) at 3 months. Knowledge scores in end-of-life care increased up to 6 months, and scores for pain and symptom management increased significantly at 3 months. Participants reported a positive change with improved communication skills and increased compassion. There was a lack of opportunities to apply some new knowledge and skills due to regulations and perceived residents’ preferences to engage more local senior staff.
Conclusion: The multidisciplinary needs-based palliative care course using various teaching modalities with follow-up knowledge tests helped to increase knowledge and improve communication skills and attitudes of NH nurses towards palliative care. The increase in knowledge and positive change in attitudes was noted to be sustained for at least 3 months postcourse.
BACKGROUND: Place of death is important to patients and caregivers, and often a surrogate measure of health care disparities. While recent trends in place of death suggest an increased frequency of dying at home, data is largely unknown for older adults with cancer.
METHODS: Deidentified death certificate data were obtained via the National Center for Health Statistics. All lung, colon, prostate, breast, and pancreas cancer deaths for older adults (defined as >65 years of age) from 2003 to 2017 were included. Multinomial logistic regression was used to test for differences in place of death associated with sociodemographic variables.
RESULTS: From 2003 through 2017, a total of 3,182,707 older adults died from lung, colon, breast, prostate and pancreas cancer. During this time, hospital and nursing home deaths decreased, and the rate of home and hospice facility deaths increased (all p < 0.001). In multivariable regression, all assessed variables were found to be associated with place of death. Overall, older age was associated with increased risk of nursing facility death versus home death. Black patients were more likely to experience hospital death (OR 1.7) and Hispanic ethnicity had lower odds of death in a nursing facility (OR 0.55). Since 2003, deaths in hospice facilities rapidly increased by 15%.
CONCLUSION: Hospital and nursing facility cancer deaths among older adults with cancer decreased since 2003, while deaths at home and hospice facilities increased. Differences in place of death were noted for non-white patients and older adults of advanced age.
BACKGROUND: The context of care provided in long-term care homes is changing, as an increasing number of older adults are entering long-term care with advance stages of illness and higher care needs. Long-term care homes are quickly becoming the place of death for an increasing number of older adults, despite recent literature identifying inadequate and suboptimal levels of end-of-life care. Within long-term care, healthcare assistants represent 60%-70% of the unregulated workforce and provide 70%-90% of the direct care to residents. Research indicates that a high level of uncertainty exists surrounding the role of healthcare assistants in end-of-life care, with numerous studies reporting the role of healthcare assistants to be 'unclear' with varying levels of responsibilities and autonomy.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this scoping review was to explore healthcare assistants' experiences and perspectives of their role in end-of-life care in long-term care.
METHODS: We applied Arksey and O'Malley's methodological framework, with recommendations from Levac and colleagues' guiding principles. Electronic databases and the grey literature were searched for relevant articles. Search concepts included end-of-life care and healthcare assistants. Articles were included in this review if they explored healthcare assistants' experiences or perspectives of providing end-of-life care in long-term care. The peaceful end of life theory by Ruland and Moore (1998) was used to organise data extraction and analysis.
RESULTS: A total of n = 15 articles met the inclusion criteria. The most predominant role-required behaviours reported by healthcare assistants were as follows: psychosocial support to significant others, knows the resident's care wishes and physical care with respect and dignity. The most predominant extra-role behaviours reported by healthcare assistants were as follows: becoming emotionally involved, acting as extended family and ensuring residents do not die alone.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this review expanded the concept of end-of-life care by illustrating the role-required and extra-role behaviours healthcare assistants perform when providing end-of-life care in long-term care.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Findings from this scoping review highlight the numerous behaviours healthcare assistants perform outside their role description in order to provide end-of-life care to dying residents in long-term care. These findings could inform policymakers and managers of long-term care homes.
OBJECTIVES: The aim was to review evidence from all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using palliative care education or staff training as an intervention to improve nursing home residents' quality of life (QOL) or quality of dying (QOD) or to reduce burdensome hospitalizations.
DESIGN: A systematic review with a narrative summary.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Library, Scopus, and Google Scholar, references of known articles, previous reviews, and recent volumes of key journals. RCTs were included in the review. Methodologic quality was assessed.
RESULTS: The search yielded 932 articles after removing the duplicates. Of them, 16 cluster RCTs fulfilled inclusion criteria for analysis. There was a great variety in the interventions with respect to learning methods, intensity, complexity, and length of staff training. Most interventions featured other elements besides staff training. In the 6 high-quality trials, only 1 showed a reduction in hospitalizations, whereas among 6 moderate-quality trials 2 suggested a reduction in hospitalizations. None of the high-quality trials showed effects on residents' QOL or QOD. Staff reported an improved QOD in 1 moderate-quality trial.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Irrespective of the means of staff training, there were surprisingly few effects of education on residents' QOL, QOD, or burdensome hospitalizations. Further studies are needed to explore the reasons behind these findings.
Objectives: There is scarce information about sedation in nursing homes at the end of life. We aimed to assess (1) the use of sedatives generally and “sedatives with continuous effect,” based on objective operational criteria, within the last week of life in nursing homes and (2) factors associated with this treatment.
Design: Retrospective cohort study, using the nursing homes' medical records.
Setting and Participants: Residents who died in 4 German nursing homes from January 2015 to December 2017 and whose medical records were available (n = 512).
Methods: Sedatives analyzed were those recommended by guidelines for “palliative sedation”: benzodiazepines, levomepromazine, haloperidol (=5 mg/d), and propofol. The definition of “sedatives with continuous effect” and doses judged as at least moderately sedating were consented by palliative care clinicians and pharmacists, based on the literature. Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression analysis were performed (R version 3.6.1).
Results: Overall, 110/512 (21%) deceased residents received a sedative at least once during the last week of life, 46/512 (9%) “sedatives with continuous effect.” Oral lorazepam was used most frequently. Eleven of 512 (2%) residents received doses judged as at least moderately sedating. The term sedation was not used. Most frequent indications were agitation (58/110; 53%) and anxiety (35/110; 32%); no indication was noted for 36/110 (33%) residents. The resident's involvement in the decision for sedatives was documented in 3/110 (3%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed significant associations between use of sedatives and age (OR = 0.94, P < .001) as well as institution (P < .001).
Conclusions and Implications: Our data indicate a lower prevalence of sedation compared to international data and considerable differences regarding prevalence between institutions. These differences, potential setting-specific challenges, and need for support measures for consistent best practice of sedation in nursing homes should be further explored.
Background: For residential aged care facility (RACF) residents with dementia, lack of prognostic guidance presents a significant challenge for end of life care planning. In an attempt to address this issue, models have been developed to assess mortality risk for people with advanced dementia, predominantly using long-term care minimum data set (MDS) information from the USA. A limitation of these models is that the information contained within the MDS used for model development was not collected for the purpose of identifying prognostic factors. The models developed using MDS data have had relatively modest ability to discriminate mortality risk and are difficult to apply outside the MDS setting. This study will aim to develop a model to estimate 6- and 12-month mortality risk for people with dementia from prognostic indicators recorded during usual clinical care provided in RACFs in Australia.
Methods: A secondary analysis will be conducted for a cohort of people with dementia from RACFs participating in a cluster-randomized trial of a palliative care education intervention (IMPETUS-D). Ten prognostic indicator variables were identified based on a literature review of clinical features associated with increased mortality for people with dementia living in RACFs. Variables will be extracted from RACF files at baseline and mortality measured at 6 and 12 months after baseline data collection. A multivariable logistic regression model will be developed for 6- and 12-month mortality outcome measures using backwards elimination with a fractional polynomial approach for continuous variables. Internal validation will be undertaken using bootstrapping methods. Discrimination of the model for 6- and 12-month mortality will be presented as receiver operating curves with c statistics. Calibration curves will be presented comparing observed and predicted event rates for each decile of risk as well as flexible calibration curves derived using loess-based functions.
Discussion: The model developed in this study aims to improve clinical assessment of mortality risk for people with dementia living in RACFs in Australia. Further external validation in different populations will be required before the model could be developed into a tool to assist with clinical decision-making in the future.
Purpose: Identifying mortality risk factors in people living in nursing homes could help healthcare professionals to individualize or develop specific plans for predicting future care demands and plan end-of-life care in this population. This study aims to identify mortality risk factors in elderly nursing home (NH) residents, based on variables adapted to this environment, routinely collected and easily accessible to their healthcare professionals.
Methods: A prospective, longitudinal, observational study of NH residents aged 65 years and older was carried out collecting sociodemographic, functional and cognitive status, nutritional variables, comorbidities, and other health variables. These variables were analyzed as mortality risk factors by Cox proportional hazard models.
Results: A total of 531 residents (75.3% female; average age 86.7 years (SD: 6.6)) were included: 25.6% had total dependence, 53.4% had moderate to severe cognitive impairment, 84.5% were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, and 79.9% were polymedicated. Risk of mortality (hazard ratio, HR) increased in totally dependent residents (HR = 1.52; p = 0.02) and in those with moderate or severe cognitive impairment ((HR = 1.59; p = 0.031) and (HR = 1.93; p = 0.002), respectively). Male gender (HR = 1.88; p < 0.001), age =80 years (HR = 1.73; p = 0.034), hypertension (HR = 1.53; p = 0.012), atrial fibrillation/arrhythmia (HR = 1.43; p = 0.048), and previous record of pneumonia (HR = 1.65; p = 0.029) were also found to be mortality drivers.
Conclusion: Age and male gender (due to the higher prevalence of associated comorbidity in these two variables), certain comorbidities (hypertension, atrial fibrillation/arrhythmia, and pneumonia), higher functional and cognitive impairment, and frequency of medical emergency service care increased the risk of mortality in our study. Given their importance and their easy identification by healthcare professionals in nursing homes, these clinical variables should be used for planning care in institutionalized older adults.
BACKGROUND: It is essential to high-quality medical care that life-sustaining treatment orders match the current, values-based preferences of patients or their surrogate decision-makers. It is unknown whether concordance between orders and current preferences is higher when a POLST form is used compared to standard documentation practices.
OBJECTIVE: To assess concordance between existing orders and current preferences for nursing facility residents with and without POLST forms.
DESIGN: Chart review and interviews.
SETTING: Forty Indiana nursing facilities (29 where POLST is used and 11 where POLST is not in use).
PARTICIPANTS: One hundred sixty-one residents able to provide consent and 197 surrogate decision-makers of incapacitated residents with and without POLST forms.
MAIN MEASUREMENTS: Concordance was measured by comparing life-sustaining treatment orders in the medical record (e.g., orders about resuscitation, intubation, and hospitalization) with current preferences. Concordance was analyzed using population-averaged binary logistic regression. Inverse probability weighting techniques were used to account for non-response. We hypothesized that concordance would be higher in residents with POLST (n = 275) in comparison to residents without POLST (n = 83).
KEY RESULTS: Concordance was higher for residents with POLST than without POLST (59.3% versus 34.9%). In a model adjusted for resident, surrogate, and facility characteristics, the odds were 3.05 times higher that residents with POLST had orders for life-sustaining treatment match current preferences in comparison to residents without POLST (OR 3.05 95% CI 1.67-5.58, p < 0.001). No other variables were significantly associated with concordance.
CONCLUSIONS: Nursing facility residents with POLST are significantly more likely than residents without POLST to have concordance between orders in their medical records and current preferences for life-sustaining treatments, increasing the likelihood that their treatment preferences will be known and honored. However, findings indicate further systems change and clinical training are needed to improve POLST concordance.
CONTEXT: Although the COVID-19 pandemic might affect important clinical routines, few studies have focused on the maintenance of good quality in end-of-life care.
OBJECTIVES: The objective was to examine whether adherence to clinical routines for good end-of-life care differed for deaths due to COVID-19 compared to a reference cohort from 2019, and whether they differed between nursing homes and hospitals.
METHODS: Data about five items reflecting clinical routines for persons who died an expected death from COVID-19 during the first three months of the pandemic (March-May 2020) were collected from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care. The items were compared between the COVID-19 group and the reference cohort, and between the nursing home and hospital COVID-19 deaths.
RESULTS: 1316 expected deaths were identified in nursing homes and 685 in hospitals. Four of the five items differed for total COVID-19 group compared to the reference cohort: fewer were examined by a physician during the last days before death, pain and oral health were less likely to be assessed, and fewer had had a specialised palliative care team consultation (p < .0001, respectively). Assessment of symptoms other than pain did not differ significantly. The five items differed between the nursing homes and hospitals in the COVID-19 group, most notably regarding the proportion of persons examined by a physician during the last days (nursing homes - 18%, hospitals - 100%).
CONCLUSION: This national register study shows that several clinical routines for end-of-life care did not meet the usual standards during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden. Higher preparedness for and monitoring of end-of-life care quality should be integrated into future pandemic plans.
Objective: Antibiotic use at the end of life (EoL) may introduce physiological as well as psychological stress and be incongruent with patients’ goals of care. Advance care planning (ACP) related to antibiotic use at the EoL helps improve goal-concordant care. Many nursing home (NH) residents are seriously ill. Therefore, we aimed to examine whether state and regional ACP initiatives play a role in the presence of “do not administer antibiotics” orders for NH residents at the EoL.
Methods: We surveyed a random, representative national sample of 810 U.S. NHs (weighted n = 13,983). The NH survey included items on “do not administer antibiotics” orders in place and participation in infection prevention collaboratives. The survey was linked to state Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) adoption status and resident, facility, and county characteristics data. We conducted multivariable regression models with state fixed effects, stratified by state POLST designation.
Results: NHs in mature POLST states reported higher rates of “do not administer antibiotics” orders compared to developing POLST states (10.1% vs. 4.6%, respectively, p = 0.004). In mature POLST states, participation in regional collaboratives and smaller NH facilities (<100 beds) were associated with having “do not administer antibiotics” orders for seriously ill residents (ß = 0.11, p = 0.006 and ß = 0.12, p = 0.003, respectively).
Discussion: NHs in states with mature POLST adoption that participated in infection control collaboratives were more likely to have “do not administer antibiotics” orders. State ACP initiatives combined with regional antibiotic stewardship initiatives may improve inappropriate antibiotic use at the EoL for NH residents.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this project was to assess the value for money of a modified unit within a residential aged care facility (RACF) for people requiring palliative care at the end of life.
METHODS: A three-way comparison using a mixed-method costing was used to estimate the per day cost of the unit compared to care in a palliative care unit within a hospital and a standard RACF bed.
RESULTS: The cost of the unit was estimated at $242 per day (2015 Australian dollars). The palliative care hospital bed cost $1,664 per day. The cost of a standard RACF bed was $123 per day, indicating that an additional $120 per day is required to provide the higher level of care required by people with complex palliative care needs.
CONCLUSION: A modified RACF unit could provide substantial cost savings to the health budget for selected complex palliative care patients.
BACKGROUND: Although family-centered communication about end-of-life care has been recognized to promote palliative-oriented care in nursing home (NH), how this communication may work is still unknown. Therefore, we explored the mechanisms by which end-of-life communication may contribute to palliative-oriented care in NH from the perspective of bereaved family carers.
METHODS: A descriptive qualitative design was performed. Interviews were conducted with 32 bereaved family carers whose relative had died between 45 days to 9 months prior from 13 different NHs. A two-steps analysis process firstly with deductive and then with inductive content analysis was adopted.
RESULTS: Four mechanisms by which end-of-life communication contributed to palliative-oriented care were identified: a) promoting family carers understanding about their relative's health conditions, prognosis, and treatments available; b) fostering shared decision-making between healthcare professionals and residents/family carers; c) improving knowledge of residents' preferences; and d) improving knowledge of family carers' preferences.
CONCLUSION: Clear and in-depth communication provides insight into residents' and family carers' preferences for care and treatment at the end-of-life, and increases understanding and shared decision-making.
Many people move in and out of hospital in the last few weeks of life. These care transitions can be distressing for family members because they signify the deterioration and impending death of their ill relative and forthcoming family bereavement. Whilst there is evidence about psychosocial support for family members providing end-of-life care at home, there is limited evidence about how this can be provided in acute hospitals during care transitions. Consequently, family members report a lack of support from hospital-based healthcare professionals.
Objectives: To develop a staff training intervention for agitation in people with severe dementia, reaching end-of-life, residing in nursing homes (NHs), test feasibility, acceptability, and whether a trial is warranted.
Design: Feasibility study with pre- and post-intervention data collection, qualitative interviews, and focus groups.
Setting: Three NHs in South East England with dementia units, diverse in terms of size, ownership status, and location.
Participants: Residents with a dementia diagnosis or scoring =2 on the Noticeable Problems Checklist, rated as “severe” on Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, family carers, and staff (healthcare assistants and nurses).
Intervention: Manualized training, delivered by nonclinical psychology graduates focusing on agitation in severe dementia, underpinned by a palliative care framework.
Measurements: Main outcomes were feasibility of recruitment, data collection, follow-up, and intervention acceptability. We collected resident, family carer, and staff demographics. Staff provided data on resident’s agitation, pain, quality of life, and service receipt. Staff reported their sense of competence in dementia care. Family carers reported on satisfaction with end-of-life care. In qualitative interviews, we explored staff and family carers’ views on the intervention.
Results: The target three NHs participated: 28 (49%) residents, 53 (74%) staff, and 11 (85%) family carers who were eligible to participate consented. Eight-four percent of staff attended =3 sessions, and we achieved 93% follow-up. We were able to complete quantitative interviews. Staff and family carers reported the intervention and delivery were acceptable and helpful.
Conclusions: The intervention was feasible and acceptable indicating a larger trial for effectiveness may be warranted.
CONTEXT: Certain treatments are potentially inappropriate when administered to nursing homes residents at the end of life and should be carefully considered. An international comparison of potentially inappropriate treatments allows insight into common issues and country-specific challenges of end-of-life care in nursing homes and helps direct health care policy in this area.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of potentially inappropriate treatments in the last week of life in nursing home residents, and analyze the differences in prevalence between countries.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study of deceased residents in nursing homes (2015) in six European countries: Belgium (Flanders), England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Potentially inappropriate treatments included: enteral administration of nutrition, parental administration of nutrition, artificial fluids, resuscitation, artificial ventilation, blood transfusion, chemotherapy/radiotherapy, dialysis, surgery, antibiotics, statins, antidiabetics, new oral anticoagulants. Nurses were questioned about whether these treatments were administered in the last week of life.
RESULTS: We included 1,384 deceased residents from 322 nursing homes. In most countries, potentially inappropriate treatments were rarely used, with a maximum of 18.3% of residents receiving at least one treatment in Poland. Exceptions were antibiotics in all countries (between 11.3% in Belgium and 45% in Poland), artificial nutrition and hydration in Poland (54.3%) and Italy (41%) and antidiabetics in Poland (19.7%).
CONCLUSION: Although the prevalence of potentially inappropriate treatments in the last week of life was generally low, antibiotics were frequently prescribed in all countries. In Poland and Italy, the prevalence of artificial administration of food/fluids in the last week of life was high, possibly reflecting country differences in legislation, care organization and culture, and the palliative care competences of staff.