BACKGROUND: Despite increased annual mortality in long-term care (LTC) homes, research has shown that care of dying residents and their families is currently suboptimal in these settings. The purpose of this study was to evaluate resident and family outcomes associated with the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in LTC (SPA-LTC) program, developed to help encourage meaningful end of life discussions and planning.
METHODS: The study employs a mixed method design in four LTC homes across Southern Ontario. Data were collected from residents and families of the LTC homes through chart reviews, interviews, and focus groups. Interviews with family who attended a Palliative Care Conference included both closed-ended and open-ended questions.
RESULTS: In total, 39 residents/families agreed to participate in the study. Positive intervention outcomes included a reduction in the proportion of emergency department use at end of life and hospital deaths for those participating in SPA-LTC, improved support for families, and increased family involvement in the care of residents. For families who attended a Palliative Care Conference, both quantitative and qualitative findings revealed that families benefited from attending them. Residents stated that they appreciated learning about a palliative approach to care and being informed about their current status.
CONCLUSIONS: The benefits of SPA-LTC for residents and families justify its continued use within LTC. Study results also suggest that certain enhancements of the program could further promote future integration of best practices within a palliative approach to care within the LTC context. However, the generalizability of these results across LTC homes in different regions and countries is limited given the small sample size.
OBJECTIVE: Quality end-of-life (EOL) care is critical for dying residents and their family/friend caregivers. While best practices to support resident comfort at EOL in long-term care (LTC) homes are emerging, research rarely explores if and how the type of care received at EOL may contribute to caregivers' perceptions of a good death. To address this gap, this study explored how care practices at EOL contributed to caregivers' perceptions of a good resident death.
METHOD: This study used a retrospective cross-sectional survey design. Seventy-eight participants whose relative or friend died in one of five LTC homes in Canada completed self-administered questionnaires on their perceptions of EOL care and perceptions of a good resident death.
RESULTS: Overall, caregivers reported positive experiences with EOL care and perceived residents to have died a good death. However, communication regarding what to expect in the final days of life and attention to spiritual issues were often missing components of care. Further, when explored alongside direct resident care, family support, and rooming conditions, staff communication was the only aspect of EOL care significantly associated with caregivers' perceptions of a good resident death.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The findings of this study suggest that the critical role staff in LTC play in supporting caregivers' perceptions of a good resident death. By keeping caregivers informed about expectations at the very end of life, staff can enhance caregivers' perceptions of a good resident death. Further, by addressing spiritual issues staff may improve caregivers' perceptions that residents were at peace when they died.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to conduct a stakeholder analysis of the strengthening a palliative approach to long-term care (SPA-LTC) model and refine it based on feedback from long-term care (LTC) residents and their families, staff, researchers and decision makers.
METHODS: We used a mixed-methods design to conduct a stakeholder analysis of the SPA-LTC model that consisted of two sequential components: qualitative focus groups with LTC staff followed by a quantitative survey with key stakeholders.
RESULTS: Twenty-one LTC staff provided feedback about the SPA-LTC model after residents relocated to LTC, during advanced illness and at end of life and in the period of grief and bereavement. This feedback helped to guide revisions of the model. According to the survey results, the SPA-LTC model was well received by 35 stakeholders, but its feasibility was questioned.
CONCLUSION: The Canadian SPA-LTC model is evidence based and endorsed by LTC staff and stakeholders. Efforts are needed to determine the feasibility of implementing the model to ensure that residents' needs are made a priority while in LTC.
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this scoping review was to identify existing palliative models in long-term care (LTC) homes and differentiate between the key components of each in terms of training/capacity-building strategies; resident, family and staff support; and advance care planning (ACP) and goals-of-care discussions.
METHODS: We conducted a scoping review based on established methods to summarize the international literature on palliative models and programs for LTC. We analyzed the data using tabular summaries and content analysis.
RESULTS: We extracted data from 46 articles related to palliative programs, training/capacity building, family support, ACP and goals of care. Study results highlighted that three key components are needed in a palliative program in LTC: (1) training and capacity building; (2) support for residents, family and staff; and (3) ACP, goals-of-care discussion and informed consent.
CONCLUSION: This scoping review provided important information about key components to be included in a palliative program in LTC. Future work is needed to develop a model that suits the unique characteristics in the Canadian context.
The purpose of this study was to analyse the consistency and extent of palliative content across high-level guiding documents related to the care of persons residing in Canadian long-term care homes. A systematic search was conducted examining documents at the national level and across five provinces (Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec). Twenty-five documents were selected based on inclusion criteria from 273 documents identified in the systematic search. The majority of these documents were created nationally (48%) or in Ontario (28%). Documents varied in palliative topics discussed, and long-term care was discussed minimally. A minimal number of palliative care guiding documents were found. Long-term care specific documents were absent, and all documents lacked consistency on palliative topics. It is imperative that palliative principles are present and consistent in high-level documents in order to improve the quality of life and care for long-term care residents across Canada.
The average expected lifespan in Canadian long-term care (LTC) homes is now less than two years post-admission, making LTC a palliative care setting. As little is known about the readiness of LTC staff in Canada to embrace a palliative care mandate, the main objective of this study was to assess qualities relevant to palliative care, including personal emotional wellbeing, palliative care self-efficacy and person-centred practices (e.g. knowing the person, comfort care). A convenience sample of 228 professional and non-professional staff (e.g. nurses and nursing assistants) across four Canadian LTC homes participated in a survey. Burnout, secondary traumatic stress and poor job satisfaction were well below accepted thresholds, e.g. burnout: mean = 20.49 (standard deviation (SD) = 5.39) for professionals; mean = 22.09 (SD = 4.98) for non-professionals; cut score = 42. Furthermore, only 0–1 per cent of each group showed a score above cut-off for any of these variables. Reported self-efficacy was moderate, e.g. efficacy in delivery: mean = 18.63 (SD = 6.29) for professionals; mean = 15.33 (SD = 7.52) for non-professionals; maximum = 32. The same was true of self-reported person-centred care, e.g. knowing the person; mean = 22.05 (SD = 6.55) for professionals; mean = 22.91 (SD = 6.16) for non-professionals; maximum = 35. t-Tests showed that non-professional staff reported relatively higher levels of burnout, while professional staff reported greater job satisfaction and self-efficacy (p < 0.05). There was no difference in secondary traumatic stress or person-centred care (p > 0.05). Overall, these results suggest that the emotional wellbeing of the Canadian LTC workforce is unlikely to impede effective palliative care. However, palliative care self-efficacy and person-centred care can be further cultivated in this context.
The discourse of dying alone is negatively weighted and models of a good death identify not dying alone as a key outcome. Understanding why dying alone is viewed negatively and its effects on care is a priority. In separate focus groups with long-term care residents, family caregivers, and staff, we identified evidence for four different perspectives on the importance of presence at the time of death. However, while each individual had their own unique perspective on dying alone, the predominant view expressed across respondent groups was that having human connection near the end of one’s life was important.
BACKGROUND: Most persons with dementia die in long term care (LTC) homes, where palliative approaches are appropriate. However, palliative approaches have not been widely implemented and there is limited understanding of staff and family experiences of dying and bereavement in this context.
METHOD: This descriptive qualitative study explored family and staff experiences of end of life and end of life care for persons with dementia in LTC homes. Eighteen focus groups were conducted with 77 staff members and 19 relatives of persons with dementia at four LTC homes in four Canadian provinces.
RESULTS: Three themes emerged: knowing the resident, the understanding that they are all human beings, and the long slow decline and death of residents with dementia.
DISCUSSION: Intimate knowledge of the person with dementia, obtained through longstanding relationships, was foundational for person-centred end of life care. Health care aides need to be included in end of life care planning to take advantage of their knowledge of residents with dementia. There were unmet bereavement support needs among staff, particularly health care aides. Persons with dementia were affected by death around them and existing rituals for marking deaths in LTC homes may not fit their needs. Staff were uncomfortable answering relatives' questions about end of life.
CONCLUSIONS: Longstanding intimate relationships enhanced end of life care but left health care aides with unmet bereavement support needs. Staff in LTC homes should be supported to answer questions about the trajectory of decline of dementia and death. Further research about residents' experiences of deaths of other residents is needed.