Dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, but traditionally it has not been considered a terminal or life-limiting condition. As a result, little significance may be placed on advance care planning (ACP) for people with dementia. Evidence suggests that most patients with advanced dementia have often not been given an opportunity to complete an advance care plan and have not had conversations with their families about their wishes and preferences at the end of life. This article reports on a literature review that aimed to explore the evidence on the introduction of ACP in achieving preferred place of care or death for people living with dementia, and reducing carer burden. The literature review found that ACP discussions have several benefits for people with dementia and their family carers, but that various factors can support or hinder such discussions. It concludes that these people and their families need to plan for end of life and suggests that ACP can increase the likelihood of achieving their preferred place of care and death and reducing decisional burden for carers.
OBJECTIVES: To explore current practice and the role of UK care homes and Admiral Nurses in helping people living with dementia and their family carers prepare for end-of-life.
METHODS: We conducted an online survey with all UK Admiral Nurses (59% response rate) and a random sample of Gold Standards Framework accredited care homes in England and Wales (38% response rate). We used descriptive statistics to report survey findings.
RESULTS: While respondents commonly discussed the progressive nature of dementia with people living with dementia and family carers, they less frequently spoke to people with dementia or carers about the nature of dementia as life shortening, terminal or a disease you can die from. Admiral Nurses highlighted that where service models reduced continuity of care, opportunities for ongoing discussion and developing relationships that supported these discussions were reduced. Admiral Nurses and care homes raised concerns about conversations being left too late, when the person with dementia no longer had capacity to engage. There was a high level of agreement with all European Association of Palliative Care and NICE statements presented regarding end-of-life care planning and discussions.
CONCLUSIONS: Our survey of care homes and Admiral Nurses, combined with findings from our previous survey of UK memory services increases our understanding of how services help people with dementia and family carers prepare for end-of-life. We found fragmentation across the service system, lack of continuity and tensions regarding when these conversations should be initiated and by whom.
Background: It is reported that, given the right support, most people would prefer to die at home, yet a very small minority of people with dementia do so. At present, knowledge gaps remain on how best to support end-of-life care at home for people with dementia.
Aim: To identify and understand the challenges and facilitators of providing end-of-life care at home for people with dementia.
Design: Narrative synthesis of qualitative and quantitative data.
Data sources: The review adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. A systematic literature search was conducted across six electronic databases (AMED, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO) and reference lists of key journals were searched up to July 2017.
Results: Searches returned 1949 unique titles, of which seven studies met all the eligibility criteria (four quantitative and three qualitative). Six key themes were identified – four facilitators and two challenges. Facilitators included ‘support from health care professionals’, ‘informal caregiver resilience and extended social networks’, ‘medications and symptom management’ and ‘appropriate equipment and home adaptations’. Challenges included ‘issues with professional services’ and ‘worsening of physical or mental health’.
Conclusion: People with dementia may not always require specialist palliative care at the end of life. Further research is required to overcome the methodological shortcomings of previous studies and establish how community development approaches to palliative care, such as compassionate communities, can support families to allow a greater number of people with dementia to die at home.
Education of health and social care professionals is essential in preparation to confidently and effectively support families affected by dementia to undertake advance care planning. This article describes a training needs analysis of Admiral Nurses, dementia specialists, in facilitating advance care planning for future care.
Methods: A questionnaire survey was completed by Admiral Nurses attending end-of-life care masterclasses in 2017 and 2018. Both quantitative (years registered as a nurse, years as an Admiral Nurse and subjective level of confidence in completing advance care plannings) and qualitative data (interventions perceived to increase confidence) were collected.
Findings: There were 75 completed responses (two incomplete returns). There was no correlation between levels of confidence and years registered as a nurse. However, there was a small positive correlation between confidence and number of years as an Admiral Nurse (r = 0.23; p < 0.05). Themes identified qualitatively to enhance practice were advanced communication skills, supervised practice, resources to frame conversations and a guide and template for advance care planning.
Conclusion: Although Admiral Nurses are specialists in dementia, several educational initiatives could be employed to better enable them to support advance care planning for families affected by dementia. This training needs analysis is contributed towards developing an educational intervention for Admiral Nurses to improve advance care planning support.
In this discussion paper we consider the influence of ethnicity, religiosity, spirituality and health literacy on Advance Care Planning for older people. Older people from cultural and ethnic minorities have low access to palliative or end-of-life care and there is poor uptake of advance care planning by this group across a number of countries where advance care planning is promoted. For many, religiosity, spirituality and health literacy are significant factors that influence how they make end-of-life decisions. Health literacy issues have been identified as one of the main reasons for a communication gaps between physicians and their patients in discussing end-of-life care, where poor health literacy, particularly specific difficulty with written and oral communication often limits their understanding of clinical terms such as diagnoses and prognoses. This then contributes to health inequalities given it impacts on their ability to use their moral agency to make appropriate decisions about end-of-life care and complete their Advance Care Plans. Currently, strategies to promote advance care planning seem to overlook engagement with religious communities. Consequently, policy makers, nurses, medical professions, social workers and even educators continue to shape advance care planning programmes within the context of a medical model. The ethical principle of justice is a useful approach to responding to inequities and to promote older peoples' ability to enact moral agency in making such decisions.
Importance: Despite its spread in much of the United States and increased international interest, the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) paradigm still lacks supporting evidence. The interrater reliability of the POLST form to translate patients' values and preferences into medical orders for care at the end of life remains to be studied.
Objective: To assess the interrater reliability of the medical orders documented in POLST forms.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted in a public university hospital in southeastern Brazil. Two independent researchers interviewed the same patients or decision-making surrogates (n = 64) during a single episode of hospitalization within a time frame of 1 to 7 days. Eligible participants were hospitalized adults aged 21 years or older who were expected to remain hospitalized for at least 4 days and whose attending physician responded no to the question, Would I be surprised if this patient died in the next year? Data collection occurred between November 1, 2015, and September 20, 2016, and first data analyses were performed on October 3, 2016.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Interrater reliability as measured by k statistics.
Results: Of the 64 participants interviewed in the study, 53 (83%) were patients and 11 (17%) were surrogates. Patients' mean (SD) age was 64 (14) years, and 35 patients (55%) and 8 surrogates (73%) were women. Overall, in 5 cases (8%), disagreement in at least 1 medical order for life-sustaining treatment was found in the POLST form, changing from the first interview to the second interview. The k statistic for cardiopulmonary resuscitation was 0.92 (95% CI, 0.80-1.00); for level of medical intervention, 0.89 (95% CI, 0.76-1.00); and for artificially administered nutrition, 0.92 (95% CI, 0.83-1.00).
Conclusions and Relevance: The high interrater reliability of the medical orders in POLST forms appears to offer further support for this advance care planning paradigm; in addition, the finding that this interrater reliability was not 100% underscores the need to ensure that patients or their surrogates have decision-making capacity and to confirm that the content of POLST forms accurately reflects patients' current treatment preferences.
The process of advance care planning in dementia is far from straightforward; as dementia progresses, the ability to consider future thoughts and actions becomes compromised, thus affecting decision-making abilities. Family carers find themselves increasingly in a position where they need to inform, or directly make, decisions on behalf of the person with dementia. This article discusses the context and importance of a palliative care approach and recommends rationales and strategies for healthcare professionals to support families affected by dementia to better plan for their future care.
OBJECTIVES: Historically, dementia has not been recognised as a life-limiting condition or one that may benefit from a palliative approach to its care. There are many challenges in providing palliative and end-of-life care to this group of people, some of which may be reduced through advance care planning (ACP) to support people with dementia to have a greater influence on their care at end of life. ACP has been defined as a process of discussing and recording of wishes, values and preferences for future care and treatment held between an individual, family members and their care provider(s) that takes effect when the person loses capacity. The objective of this project was to involve people with dementia and their family carers in co-design of ACP guide and template to prepare for further study related to communication processes in ACP.
METHODS: A user-centred design process cycle of development and review was undertaken by Dementia UK which involved people with dementia, family carers, Admiral Nurses and other key stakeholders in developing an ACP guide and template.
RESULTS: Nine cyclical stages were undertaken to achieve the outcome of an ACP guide and template.
CONCLUSION: Co-production using a user-centred design approach offers a structured and inclusive approach to developing ACP materials.Authors.
Addressing palliative care needs of people with dementia appropriately, identifying the end-of-life stage, meeting the needs of family carers as well as supporting the preferences and wishes of the person with the diagnosis can all present challenges to generalist health and social care providers. In partnership with Dementia UK and Kirkwood Hospice in West Yorkshire embarked upon a two-year pilot to introduce the first end-of-life care Admiral Nurse to their Specialist Community Palliative Care Team to identify and support people with dementia who required palliative and end-of-life care. This paper describes and discusses this innovative partnership and outcomes from year one evaluation and sets out future plans.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Dementia is now recognized as a progressive life-limiting illness where many patients can benefit from access to palliative care.
RECENT FINDINGS: The present review has focused on three areas namely, advanced care planning in supporting palliative care for dementia, hospice provision for people with dementia and provision of care within family home. In advanced care planning, there is little research on systematically developed and implemented advance care planning interventions or whether they achieve desired outcomes for end-of-life care. There is limited research on hospice-based care for patients with dementia and most studies are U.S. based. Equally studies exploring how family carers can be supported and facilitated to care at home for the person with dementia to the end of life are exploratory rather than determining what factors may be important.
SUMMARY: There are relatively few studies, especially quantitative studies or intervention studies being carried out to determine most effective means of providing palliative care for people with dementia, particularly with respect to advanced care planning, the provision of hospice-based care and support at home. Despite increased public awareness of dementia as a terminal illness, more research is required to support patients with dementia and their families at the end of life.
Background: Dementia is the most common neurological disorder worldwide and is a life-limiting condition, but very often is not recognised as such. People with dementia, and their carers, have been shown to have palliative care needs equal in extent to those of cancer patients. However, many people with advanced dementia are not routinely being assessed to determine their palliative care needs, and it is not clear why this is so.
Main Body: An interdisciplinary workshop on "Palliative Care in Neurodegeneration, with a focus on Dementia", was held in Cork, Ireland, in May 2016. The key aim of this workshop was to discuss the evidence base for palliative care for people with dementia, to identify 'gaps' for clinical research, and to make recommendations for interdisciplinary research practice. To lead the discussion throughout the day a multidisciplinary panel of expert speakers were brought together, including both researchers and clinicians from across Ireland and the UK. Targeted invitations were sent to attendees ensuring all key stakeholders were present to contribute to discussions. In total, 49 experts representing 17 different academic and practice settings, attended. Key topics for discussion were pre-selected based on previously identified research priorities (e.g. James Lind Alliance) and stakeholder input. Key discussion topics included: i. Advance Care Planning for people with Dementia; ii. Personhood in End-of-life Dementia care; iii. Topics in the care of advanced dementia at home. These topics were used as a starting point, and the ethos of the workshop was that the attendees could stimulate discussion and debate in any relevant area, not just the key topics, summarised under iv. Other priorities.
Conclusions: The care experienced by people with dementia and their families has the potential to be improved; palliative care frameworks may have much to offer in this endeavour. However, a solid evidence base is required to translate palliative care into practice in the context of dementia. This paper presents suggested research priorities as a starting point to build this evidence base. An interdisciplinary approach to research and priority setting is essential to develop actionable knowledge in this area.