Background: Nearly 3 million U.S. family caregivers support someone with cancer. However, oncology clinic-based service lines that proactively screen, assess, and support cancer caregivers are nearly nonexistent.
Objective: To examine first-year experiences of a nurse-led clinic-based telehealth support service (FamilyStrong) for family caregivers of patients with recently diagnosed grade IV brain tumors.
Methods: This is a retrospective evaluation of operational outcomes from initial implementation of the FamilyStrong Service, developed in partnership with Caregiver and Bereavement Support Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. From August 2018 to December 2019, 53 family caregivers were proactively identified and enrolled by a palliative care nurse, working approximately one day/week, who performed monthly caregiver distress thermometer screenings by phone and provided emotional, educational, problem-solving, and referral support.
Results: Enrolled family caregivers were a mean age of 53.5 years and mostly female (62.3%), full- or part-time employed (67.9%), and the patient's spouse/partner (79.3%). Caregivers provided support 6.7 days/week for 11.2 hours/day. The palliative care nurse performed 235 distress screenings and provided support that included 68 documented instances of emotional, problem-solving, and educational support, 41 nurse-facilitated communications with the neuro-oncology team about patient issues, and 24 referrals to UAB and community services (e.g., counseling). The most common problems caregivers wanted assistance with included: managing their relative's health condition and symptoms (51%), coordinating care/services (21%), and planning for the future/advance care planning (17%).
Discussion: The FamilyStrong Program is among the first "real world" oncology clinic-based formal support services for advance cancer family caregivers.
BACKGROUND: Preparation for an impending death through EOL (end-of-life) discussions and human presence when a person is dying is important for both patients and families.
OBJECTIVE: The aim was to study whether EOL discussions were offered and to what degree patients were alone at time of death when dying from Covid-19, comparing deaths in nursing homes and hospitals.
DESIGN: The national Swedish Register of Palliative Care (SRPC) was used. All expected deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes and hospitals were compared with, and contrasted to, deaths in a reference population (deaths in 2019).
SETTING AND SUBJECTS: A total of 1346 expected Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes (n=908) and hospitals (n=438) were analyzed.
RESULTS: Those who died were of a more advanced age in nursing homes (mean 86.4 years) and of a lower age in hospitals (mean 80.7 years) (p<0.0001). Fewer EOL discussions with patients were held compared with deaths in 2019 (74% vs. 79%, p<0.001) and dying with someone present was much more uncommon (59% vs. 83%, p<0.0001). In comparisons between nursing homes and hospital deaths, more patients dying in nursing homes were women (56% vs. 37%, p<0.0001) and significantly fewer had a retained ability to express their will during the last week of life (54% vs. 89%, p<0.0001). Relatives were present at time of death in only 13% and 24% of the cases in nursing homes and hospitals, respectively (p<0.001). The corresponding figures for staff were 52% and 38% (p<0.0001).
CONCLUSION: Dying from Covid-19 negatively affects the possibility of holding an EOL discussion and the chances of dying with someone present. This has considerable social and existential consequences for both patients and families.
Few studies have explored the inter-relationships of sources of social support and caregiving self-efficacy with caregiver burden and patient's quality of life among patients with palliative care needs and their caregivers. This study tested the associations of two sources of social support (family and friends) and the mediating role of caregiving self-efficacy on caregiver burden and patient's quality of life. A convenience sample of 225 patient-caregiver dyads recruited between September 2016 and May 2017 from three hospitals in Hong Kong was included in the current analysis. Results showed that the final model provided a satisfactory fit (SRMR = 0.070, R-RMSEA = 0.055 and R-CFI = 0.926) with the data, as good as the hypothesized model did (p = 0.326). Significant associations were detected. Family support had a significant negative indirect effect on caregiver burden and a significant positive indirect effect on patient's quality of life through caregiving self-efficacy, whereas friend support had a significant positive direct effect on caregiver burden but a minimal effect, if any, on patient's quality of life. These findings emphasized (1) the importance of caregiving self-efficacy in improving caregiver burden and patient's quality of life and that (2) sources of social support may be an important dimension moderating the associations of caregiving self-efficacy with caregiver burden and patient's quality of life.
BACKGROUND: Despite evidence that family members' support to each other can be of importance to its members, there are limited studies of factors related to family members' sense of such support during palliative care.
AIM: Based on the family systems approach, we evaluated which factors were associated with family members' sense of support within their closest family in a palliative home care context and developed a model that predicts such sense of support.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional design was used. We interviewed 209 adult family members (69% of eligible) of adult patients with expected short survival receiving palliative home care.
METHODS: Generalised linear models were used to evaluate individual factors related to family members' sense of support within their closest family during palliative care. The Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) was applied in the model-building analyses.
RESULTS: Nineteen variables were identified that were significantly associated with the family members' sense of support within the closest family. Model building selected six variables for predicting this sense of support (decreasing Wald values): family member perceiving support from other more distant family members; feeling secure with the provided palliative home care; possibility of respite if family member needed a break; family member living alone; being a child of the patient (inverse relationship); perceiving that the patient was supported by other family members.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support clinical application of the Family Systems Theory in the context of palliative care. The factors identified may be of value in assisting practitioners in detecting and treating family members sensing a low level of support within the closest family.
Background: To provide a better quality of death for patients at the end of life who choose to die at home and their families, the hospice care team at Taipei Veterans General Hospital has promoted an personalized discharged end-of-life care plan since the initial of 2018.
Methods: This study is a retrospective analysis of administrative data. All incoming calls of the 24-hour specialist palliative care emergency telephone advice service records were analyzed. Personal information of any callers or consultants was not registered in the content.
Results: A total of 728 telephone consultations was registered during the study period. The content of the consultation of different callers was significantly different (p < 0.001). The decrease in the number of calls from the patients who were discharged from the hospice ward had the largest reduction in proportion, from 80 (19.0%) to 32 (10.5%), There was a significant difference in the identity of the callers between 2017 and 2018 (p = 0.025). The proportion of consultation calls for the management of near-death symptoms significantly reduced from 15.6% to 10.5% (p = 0.027).
Conclusions: Though the evidence from this study is not enough to support that the personalized discharged end-of-life care plan might reduce the frequency of dialing 24-hour hotlines by the family members of discharged terminally ill patients. For patients who choose to die at home and their families, the hotlines provide a 24-hour humane support. Thus, we need to conduct relevant research to determine whether the service of this dedicated line meets the needs of patients and their families in the terminal stage.
BACKGROUND: The supportive hospice aged residential exchange (SHARE) is a new model of palliative care education that has been designed for residential aged care. The goal of SHARE is to help clinical staff improve palliative care within residential aged care facilities and to improve specialist palliative care nurses' knowledge and skill to care for frail older people.
METHOD: The experiences of 18 bereaved families concerning the palliative care journey (both at the start and finish of a one-year implementation of SHARE) were explored using semi-structured interviews.
RESULTS: Three themes were important to bereaved families' experience: communication with staff, systems of care, and hospice involvement. Sub-themes indicating changes in these three components of care between the start and finish of SHARE was identified. A fourth theme highlighted challenges (relationship with GP, staff shortages, and turnover) that continued across SHARE.
CONCLUSION: Findings indicated that SHARE benefited families (improved communication and support) through the end of life journey of their relatives, but challenges remained.
Les soins palliatifs demandent de plus en plus de compétences médicales, soignantes, humaines et éthiques, afin d’asseoir leur légitimité dans des domaines de plus en plus pointus de la médecine – réanimation, néonatalogie, cancérologie, gériatrie – ainsi que dans la diversité des prises en charge, y compris au domicile ou en EPHAD.
Dans ce contexte de développement des formations et d’élargissement des champs de compétences de la pratique palliative, cette 5e édition du manuel offre :
-les indispensables connaissances thérapeutiques ;
-les outils, à destination des professionnels en vue d’acquérir une compétence clinique pour la rencontre et l’accompagnement humain, psychique et relationnelle de la personne malade ;
-une contextualisation de la pratique des soins palliatifs dans leur dimension sociale, sanitaire et politique ;
-des jalons pédagogiques pour le développement des soins palliatifs dans leur dimension pédagogique et de recherche.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers of patients on prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV) may encounter challenges concerning medical decision-making besides witnessing patient suffering. Palliative care (PC) should be a good support for both patients and caregivers; however, for PMV families, PC is not always a choice through long companion time. This qualitative study clarifies family caregivers' burden of assisting patients on PMV and evaluates the need for PC information and support.
METHODS: Interviews were caregivers of patients on ventilator support for more than 60 days in five hospitals of the Taipei City Hospital System. Based on phenomenology, this study was conducted by using a semistructured questionnaire comprising three questions: (I) what was the most crucial moment of deciding to intubate? (II) how would you describe the quality of life of your ventilator-dependent family member? (III) what type of assistance do you expect from the PC team for your ventilator-dependent family member?
RESULTS: Twenty-one caregivers of patients on PMV in five hospitals of the Taipei City Hospital System agreed to participate in face-to-face interviews. The identified themes, including stressful decision-making, companion pain/discomfort, and unwillingness to accept PC, elucidated the difficulties experienced by caregivers when providing care.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding family caregivers' experiences can enable physicians to improve communication with them, encourage the PC team to support them during surrogate decision-making for patients on PMV during critical moments, and enhance the overall PC service.
Background: There is an international drive towards increasing provision of community-led models of social and practical support for people living with advanced illness.
Aim: This feasibility project aims to develop, implement and evaluate a model of community volunteers, identified as Compassionate Communities Connectors, to support people living with advanced life limiting illnesses/palliative care needs. The aims also include the development and evaluation of a training programme for volunteers and assessment of the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effectiveness of this model of care.
Methods: The approach seeks to map and mobilise people's personal networks of care through the Connectors enlisting Caring Helpers (community volunteers). Up to 10 Connectors will be trained to work with at least 30 families selected by the palliative care service as requiring support. The primary outcome is the effect of the intervention on social connectedness. Secondary outcomes are the intervention's effect on unplanned hospital utilisation, caregiver support needs, advance care plans and satisfaction with intervention for patients/carers, volunteers and service providers.
Conclusion: It is expected that this intervention will enhance patient, carer and family social, psychological and practical support and reduce the need for dying people to be admitted to a hospital.
Introduction: An acute shortage of senior mentors saw the Palliative Medicine Initiative (PMI) combine its novice mentoring program with electronic and peer mentoring to overcome insufficient mentoring support of medical students and junior doctors by senior clinicians. A three-phased evaluation was carried out to evaluate mentees’ experiences within the new CNEP mentoring program.
Methods: Phase 1 saw use of a Delphi process to create a content-valid questionnaire from data drawn from 9 systematic reviews of key aspects of novice mentoring. In Phase 2 Cognitive Interviews were used to evaluate the tool. The tool was then piloted amongst mentees in the CNEP program. Phase 3 compared mentee’s experiences in the CNEP program with those from the PMI’s novice mentoring program.
Results: Thematic analysis of open-ended responses revealed three themes–the CNEP mentoring process, its benefits and challenges that expound on the descriptive statistical analysis of specific close-ended and Likert scale responses of the survey. The results show mentee experiences in the PMI’s novice mentoring program and the CNEP program to be similar and that the addition of near peer and e-mentoring processes enhance communications and support of mentees.
Conclusion: CNEP mentoring is an evolved form of novice mentoring built on a consistent mentoring approach supported by an effective host organization. The host organization marshals assessment, support and oversight of the program and allows flexibility within the approach to meet the particular needs of mentees, mentors and senior mentors. Whilst near-peer mentors and e-mentoring can make up for the lack of senior mentor availability, their effectiveness hinges upon a common mentoring approach.
To better support the CNEP program deeper understanding of the mentoring dynamics, policing and mentor and mentee training processes are required. The CNEP mentoring tool too needs to be validated.
Background: Informal carers are essential in enabling discharge home from hospital at end of life and supporting palliative patients at home, but are often ill-prepared for the role. Carers’ support needs are rarely considered at discharge. If carers are less able to cope with home care, patient care may suffer and readmission may become more likely.
Aim: To investigate the implementation of an evidence-based Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) intervention to support carers during hospital discharge at end of life.
Design: Longitudinal qualitative study with thematic analysis.
Setting/participants: One National Health Service Trust in England: 12 hospital practitioners, one hospital administrator and four community practitioners. We provided training in CSNAT intervention use and implementation. Practitioners delivered the intervention for 6 months. Data collection was conducted in three phases: (1) pre-implementation interviews exploring understandings, anticipated benefits and challenges of the intervention; (2) observations of team meetings and review of intervention procedures and (3) follow-up interviews exploring experiences of working with the intervention.
Results: Despite efforts from practitioners, implementation was challenging. Three main themes captured facilitators and barriers to implementation: (1) structure and focus within carer support; (2) the ‘right’ people to implement the intervention and (3) practical implementation challenges.
Conclusions: Structure and focus may facilitate implementation, but the dominance of outcomes measurement and performance metrics in health systems may powerfully frame perceptions of the intervention and implementation decisions. There is uncertainty over who is best-placed or responsible for supporting carers around hospital discharge, and challenges in connecting with carers prior to discharge.
Background: Fetal malformations are diagnosed prenatally in nearly 3% of pregnancies, and [about] 1.2% are major malformations. After prenatal diagnosis, it is imperative to consider families' values and to support their decision-making process. Prenatal palliative care is a growing field mainly based on family conferences. The prenatal care setting is unique and differs from postnatal and adult care. There are no descriptions of family conferences in prenatal palliative care. The descriptions of themes that emerge from the prenatal care conference charts may guide professionals in this delicate task, and help determine the causes of suffering and identify family values before the birth of the infant.
Aim: To perform a content analysis of medical records of family conferences and to describe the main themes observed during prenatal palliative care follow-up after the diagnosis of a life-limiting fetal condition.
Design: This is a retrospective study of medical records of family conferences from a perinatal palliative care group, the GAI group, between May 2015 and September 2016.
Setting/Participants: Families with estimated perinatal mortality >50% and eligibility for follow-up at our tertiary fetal medicine center were enrolled. We included women who participated in at least one family conference with the GAI group and who had given birth at the clinic or delivered at another center and returned for the postnatal family conference.
Results: Fifty women met the inclusion criteria. Five main themes and 18 categories emerged from the charts and are described in detail. A model of follow-up in prenatal palliative care is proposed based on the themes and categories identified.
onclusions: This analysis may guide health professionals who seek to better identify family needs and values and organize follow-up during prenatal palliative care.
Aim: The authors aimed to evaluate the experiences of the relatives of dying people, both in regard to benefits and special needs, when supported by a mobile palliative care bridging service (MPCBS), which exists to enable dying people to stay at home and to support patients' relatives.
Design: A cross-sectional survey.
Methods: A standardised survey was performed, asking 106 relatives of dying people about their experiences with the MPCBS (response rate=47.3%). Descriptive statistics were analysed using SPSS 23.
Findings: Many relatives (62.5%) reported that their dying relations when discharged from a facility to stay at home were not symptom-free. The MPCBS helped relatives maintain home care, and this was reported to be helpful. Support provided by the MPCBS made it easier for 77.6% of relatives to adjust care as soon as situations changed, and helped ensure that symptoms could be better controlled, at least for 68.2% of relatives. Younger relatives felt more encouraged by the MPCBS to care for their relatives dying at home.
This study explored the experience of pharmacists, social workers, and nurses who participated in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in a tertiary care Canadian hospital. Consenting staff participated in qualitative semistructured interviews, which were then analyzed for thematic content. This article reports on the broad theme of “support” from the perspective of the 3 professions, focusing on the diversity in perceptions of support, how MAiD was discussed within health care teams, feelings of gratuitous or excessive gestures of support, ambivalence over debriefs, and the importance of informal support. While pharmacists and social workers generally felt part of a community that supported MAiD, nurses more often expressed opinions as highly divergent. The key finding across all themes was the central importance of the culture on any unit with respect to MAiD and specifically the role of the unit manager in creating either a positive open space for communication or a more silent or closed space. Nursing noted that in the latter setting many gestures of support were experienced as insincere and counterproductive, as were debriefs. We outline several recommendations for managers based on the study results with the intent of tailoring support for all professionals involved in MAiD.
Twenty percent of Americans die in an intensive care unit (ICU), often incapacitated or requiring assisted decision making. Surrogates are often required to make urgent, complex, high-stakes decisions. Communication among patients, families, and clinicians is often delayed and inefficient with frequent missed opportunities to support the emotional and psychological needs of surrogates, particularly at the end of life. The Critical Care Nurse Communicator program is a nurse-led, primary palliative care intervention designed to improve the quality and consistency of communication in the ICU and address the informational, psychological, and emotional needs of surrogate decision-makers through the shared decision-making process.
BACKGROUND: The management of medicines towards the end of life can place increasing burdens and responsibilities on patients and families. This has received little attention yet it can be a source of great difficulty and distress patients and families. Dose administration aids can be useful for some patients but there is no evidence for their wide spread use or the implications for their use as patients become increasing unwell. The study aimed to explore how healthcare professionals describe the support they provide for patients to manage medications at home at end of life.
METHODS: Qualitative interview study with thematic analysis. Participants were a purposive sample of 40 community healthcare professionals (including GPs, pharmacists, and specialist palliative care and community nurses) from across two English counties.
RESULTS: Healthcare professionals reported a variety of ways in which they tried to support patients to take medications as prescribed. While the paper presents some solutions and strategies reported by professional respondents it was clear from both professional and patient/family caregiver accounts in the wider study that rather few professionals provided this kind of support. Standard solutions offered included: rationalising the number of medications; providing different formulations; explaining what medications were for and how best to take them. Dose administration aids were also regularly provided, and while useful for some, they posed a number of practical difficulties for palliative care. More challenging circumstances such as substance misuse and memory loss required more innovative strategies such as supporting ways to record medication taking; balancing restricted access to controlled drugs and appropriate pain management and supporting patient choice in medication use.
CONCLUSIONS: The burdens and responsibilities of managing medicines at home for patients approaching the end of life has not been widely recognised or understood. This paper considers some of the strategies reported by professionals in the study, and points to the great potential for a more widely proactive stance in supporting patients and family carers to understand and take their medicines effectively. By adopting tailored, and sometimes, 'outside the box' thinking professionals can identify immediate, simple solutions to the problems patients and families experience with managing medicines.
BACKGROUND: Cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States. It is imperative to optimize measures to support patients and families facing the end of a child's life. This study asked bereaved parents to reflect on their child's end-of-life care to identify which components of decision-making, supportive services, and communication were helpful, not helpful, or lacking.
METHODS: An anonymous survey about end-of-life experiences was sent to families of children treated at a single institution who died of a malignancy between 2010 and 2017.
RESULTS: Twenty-eight surveys were returned for a 30.8% response rate. Most of the bereaved parents (61%) reported a desire for shared decision-making; this was described by 52% of families at the end of their child's life. There was a statistically significant association between how well death went and whether the parental perception of actual decision-making aligned with desired decision-making (P = .002). Families did not utilize many of the supportive services that are available including psychology and psychiatry (only 22% used). Respondents felt that additional services would have been helpful.
CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers should strive to participate in decision-making models that align with the preferences of the patient and family and provide excellent communication. Additional resources to support families following the death of a child should be identified for families or developed and funded if a gap in available services is identified.
BACKGROUND: Many domiciliary care workers have reported low confidence and isolation when delivering end of life care in patients' homes. Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) is an initiative that has demonstrated success in increasing confidence and knowledge of end of life care in UK nursing home and community hospice workers, but it has not been evaluated with domiciliary care workers.
AIM: To test the acceptability of Project ECHO to domiciliary care workers as a means of increasing their knowledge of, and confidence in, delivering palliative care, and its effectiveness in reducing their isolation by developing a community of practice.
METHOD: A service evaluation, involving one domiciliary care agency delivering care in the community, was conducted from May 2018 to April 2019. The participants were 25 home care workers who were employed by the agency. Participants were invited to attend an event at which gaps in their knowledge were identified, and a curriculum of learning on the Project ECHO programme was developed. The learning involved 12 educational sessions over 12 months, with each session teaching a different component of palliative care. Questionnaires were completed by the participants before and after the educational sessions to assess their effect. In addition, a focus group was conducted with four of the participants.
RESULTS: Comparison of the questionnaires completed before and after participating in the education sessions revealed an increase in self-reported knowledge across all 12 topics of the curriculum and an increase in confidence in seven of the 12 topics. However, attendance across the 12 sessions was variable, with no more than nine being attended by any one participant.
CONCLUSION: Palliative care education for domiciliary care staff using ECHO methodology was well received, relevant and accessible, and may have the potential to improve self-assessed knowledge and confidence. However, finding an ideal time for as many staff to attend as possible may be challenging.
Mortality from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increases with age, and those over 80 are particularly vulnerable (Verity et al.,2020). Most national data on COVID-19 will underestimate mortality in older people. Triage and resource allocation protocols (Truog et al.,2020), and our understanding that it is often in the best interests of the frail older person to remain in their usual place of residence, may result in many deaths occurring outside of hospitals,particularly in care homes where these data may not be routinely collected.
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Patients with dementia may be discharged from hospice if their condition stabilizes. The loss of professional support and an already complex grief process needs careful attention. A live discharge presents a unique experience for each hospice patient, caregiver, and hospice team, which varies from traditional bereavement theories used to describe the grieving process. This article explores live discharge from hospice for caregivers of adults with dementia through a theoretical lens of Symbolic Interactionism (SI) and Attachment Theory (AT). The theories of SI and AT support and assist in understanding the experience of caregivers who lose hospice support due to ineligibility. In addition, caregivers watch the gradual deterioration and psychological loss of someone with dementia while they remain alive described as an ambiguous loss. Ambiguous loss as a subset of traditional bereavement theories provides a framework for this exploration and provides a relevant illustration of the complex needs. This article will conclude with implications for social work practice. It is important for hospice clinicians to be aware of current termination practices necessary to manage appropriate attachments, support the symbolic meaning of the hospice experience, validate the ambiguous losses, and maintain a sense of hope through a live discharge from hospice.