This article introduces a cartography tool to help social workers work with and support family caregivers. This tool aims to determine (1) which caregivers are likely to need additional support during bereavement and (2) what resources the caregiver has that care teams can rely on for decision-making and planning. The purpose of this article is to present a preliminary assessment of the cartography based on the feedback collected from potential users regarding the tool's content and usage.
BACKGROUND: Spiritual care is integral to palliative care. It engenders a sense of purpose, meaning, and connectedness to the sacred or important and may support caregiver well-being.
AIM: To examine caregivers' spirituality, religiosity, spiritual well-being, and views on spiritual/religious support.
DESIGN: A mixed-methods study across 4 Australian sites, recruiting caregivers of patients with a life expectancy of under 12 months. The anonymous semistructured questionnaire used included research team developed and adapted questions examining religion/spirituality's role and support and views on hospitals supporting spiritual/religious requirements. It additionally included the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale (FACIT-Sp-12).
RESULTS: One hundred nine caregivers participated (47.4% responded). Median spiritual well-being was 30.5 on FACIT-Sp-12. Religious affiliation was associated with higher Faith subscores (P < .001). Spirituality was very important to 24.5%, religiosity to 28.2%, and unimportant to 31.4% and 35.9%, respectively. Caregivers prayed (P = .005) and meditated (P = .006) more following patients' diagnoses, gaining comfort, guidance, and strength. Caregivers whose spiritual/religious needs were met to moderate/full extent by external religious/faith communities (23.8%) reported greater spiritual well-being (P < .001). Hospitals supported moderate/full caregiver spiritual needs in 19.3%. Pastoral care visits comforted 84.4% of those who received them (n = 32) but elicited discomfort in 15.6%. Caregivers also emphasized the importance of humane staff and organizational tone in supporting spiritual care.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospital-based spiritual care providers should seek to identify those who seek pastoral or religiously orientated care. Genuine hospitality of showing concern for the other ensures the varied yet inevitably humanist requirements of the caregiver community are met.
OBJECTIVES: To understand how bereaved spousal caregivers of persons with dementia perceive and respond to changes over the course of their spouse's disease, from diagnosis into bereavement.
DESIGN: Qualitative interview study with convenience sampling and thematic analysis approach.
PARTICIPANTS: Participants included eight women and two men (n=10) who had been spousal caregivers for a person with dementia prior to his/her death. Participants were older adults who self-reported good health and were bereaved longer than a year.
SETTING: Data collected in a small Canadian prairie city between fall 2014 and winter 2015.
FINDINGS: Two overarching themes were developed as important components of participants' caregiving journey: emotional reactions to change and variation in social connectedness throughout the caregiving and bereavement journey. Four key sub-themes developed through the analysis of emotional reactions to events: memorable grief overshadows persistent grief, a progressive feeling of hopelessness and overwhelmed, relief is common but hidden and gratitude is a milestone in a constructive bereavement. Three key variations of social connectedness throughout the caregiving and bereavement journey were developed: the importance of social inclusion throughout a caregiving and bereavement journey, the repeated loss of companionship and withdrawing from social interactions is contingent on needs.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that emotional changes throughout caregiving and bereavement are not linear. The need for support from family, friends and new social supports is influential in enabling the caregiver to move forward during caregiving and bereavement.
The end-of-life trajectory of cancer patients in palliative care (PC) elicits an anticipatory grief (AG) process in family caregivers (FCs). Although widely recognized, AG lacks conceptual clarification. This study aims to qualitatively explore the experience of FCs of patients with terminal cancer to identify the core characteristics and the specific adaptive challenges related to AG in the context of end-of-life caregiving. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted in a clinical sample of 26 FCs of cancer patients in PC. Findings from thematic analysis suggest that the AG experience is characterized by traumatic distress from being exposed to life-threatening conditions and the separation distress induced by loss anticipation and current relational losses, challenging the FCs to long-term emotional regulation effort demands. These results contribute to the conceptualization of AG and may inform intervention programs for the main challenges the FCs face when adjusting to loss during end-of-life caregiving.
Several studies have highlighted the significant role of families in end-of-life care. Carers' well-being may depend on how they experience the care and support provided to their loved ones. This study was conducted to investigate family caregivers' assessment of specialized end-of-life care in a sample of 119 close family members in Iceland. The response rate was 58.8% (n = 70). Furthermore, the aim was to assess the psychometric characteristics of the Icelandic version of Family Assessment of Treatment at the End of Life (FATE). Descriptive statistics were used to describe the characteristics of the data. Results indicate that good communication and understanding of all parties concerned are the foundation for family caregivers' satisfaction with end-of-life care. Participants were generally satisfied with the care provided, whereas some important aspects of care were rated as excellent. Evaluation of management of symptoms reported in this study should be given specific attention in future studies considering its unsatisfactory outcomes. Nurses need to be aware of the impact that physical suffering of the patient might have on the family caregivers. The Icelandic version of the Family Assessment of Treatment at the End of Life instrument is a psychometrically sound instrument useful for measuring caregivers' satisfaction with service provided at the end of life, although modifications would improve the instrument for use on this population.
AIM: This study aimed to develop a "family caregiver needs-assessment scale for end-of-life care for senility at home" (FADE) and examine its reliability and validity.
METHOD: A draft item pool was developed based on a literature review, and simplified to 30 items in four domains. Next, the item pool was reviewed by four visiting nurses and four researchers and refined to 15 items. A cross-sectional study was then conducted using a self-reported questionnaire. Questionnaires were sent to 2703 visiting nurses. The survey questions included participants' basic demographic information, the importance of each item according to a modified scale, basic demographics for cases of death by senility at home, satisfaction with each item of the modified scale in an example case, and assessment of the case using the Japanese version of the Support Team Assessment Schedule (STAS-J). Internal consistency was assessed using Cronbach's alpha. Construct validity was confirmed using confirmatory factor analysis, and correlation between the new scale and the STAS-J was used to assess criterion-related validity.
RESULTS: In total, 461 visiting nurses provided valid responses. The exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified 12 items from two factors: "Needs for adaptation to senility bereavement" and "Needs for essential skills in supporting a dignified death by senility." The final model showed appropriate index values: standardized root mean residual = 0.057, Tucker-Lewis index = 0.920, Akaike information criterion = 191.6, and Bayesian information criterion = 298.2. Cronbach's alpha for the entire scale was 0.908, and was above 0.840 for each factor. The correlation coefficient between STAS-J and the entire scale was 0.259-0.427 (p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: The FADE scale showed acceptable internal consistency and concurrent validity. The scale can help clarify issues and desires that present themselves at home related to adaptation to senility bereavement and essential skills in supporting a dignified death by senility. Addressing these issues and desires is expected to reduce caregivers' anxiety and burden, and means the older adults under their care may be respected and enabled to live with dignity and peace.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of palliative care intervention on the quality of life among Jordanian caregivers of cancer patients. Repeated measures design was used in this study. Data were collected from 137 Jordanian caregivers of cancer patients utilizing a self-administered questionnaire. An intervention program called SHARE was implemented to the experimental groups and its effectiveness in improving the overall quality of life for caregivers of cancer patients was evaluated using repeated measure ANOVA test. The results showed a statistically significant effect on the quality of life domains. For workshop experimental group (F = 26.822, p < .001) and for home visit experimental group (F = 10.236, p = .003).
OBJECTIVE: To examine factors associated with perceived quality of communication with physicians by relatives of dying residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs).
DESIGN: A cross-sectional retrospective study in a representative sample of LTCFs conducted in 2015. In each LTCF, deaths of residents during the 3 months before the researcher's visit were reported. Structured questionnaires were sent to the identified relatives of deceased residents.
SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 736 relatives of deceased residents in 210 LTCFs (in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland).
METHODS: The Family Perception of Physician-Family Communication scale (FPPFC) was used to assess the quality of end-of-life (EOL) communication with physicians as perceived by relatives. We applied multilevel linear regression models to find factors associated with the FPPFC score.
RESULTS: The quality of EOL communication with physicians was perceived by relatives as higher when the relative spent more than 14 hours with the resident in the last week of the resident's life (b = 0.205; P = .044), and when the treating physician visited the resident at least 3 times in the last week of the resident's life (b = 0.286; P = .002) or provided the resident with palliative care (b = 0.223; P = .003). Relatives with higher emotional burden perceived the quality of EOL communication with physicians as lower (b = -0.060; P < .001). These results had been adjusted to countries and LTCF types with physicians employed on-site or off-site of the facility.
CONCLUSION: The quality of EOL communication with physicians, as perceived by relatives of dying LTCF residents, is associated with the number of physician visits and amount of time spent by the relative with the resident in the last week of the resident's life, and relatives' emotional burden.
IMPLICATIONS: LTCF managers should organize care for dying residents in a way that enables frequent interactions between physicians and relatives, and emotional support to relatives to improve their satisfaction with EOL communication.
Purpose: Caregivers of patients with cancer cope with socioemotional challenges, which can adversely affect their well-being. We developed an intervention, expressive writing and reading (EWR), to promote emotional processing and social connectedness among caregivers. In a single-arm pilot study, we assessed its feasibility and perceived usefulness.
Methods: Caregivers participated in weekly 1.5-hour EWR workshops offered over 20 weeks. After 4 sessions, they completed semistructured interviews, which were analyzed using qualitative descriptive analysis.
Findings: Of 65 caregivers approached, 25 were eligible, 18 consented, and 9 (50%) caregivers completed at least 4 workshops and the interview. Their responses revealed 3 themes: "inner processing," "interpersonal learning," and "enhanced processing and preparedness." Perceived benefits of EWR included emotional and cognitive processing (individual and collaborative), learning from the emotions and experiences of other caregivers, and preparing for upcoming challenges.
Conclusions:Expressive writing and reading can be a safe and cost-effective supportive intervention for caregivers of patients with cancer.
BACKGROUND: Many people receiving palliative care wish to die at home. Often, support from family or friends is key to ensuring that this wish is fulfilled. However, carers report feeling underprepared to undertake this role. This paper describes the process of developing a consensus and evidence based website to provide core information to help people support someone receiving palliative care on the island of Ireland.
METHODS: The project comprised three phases: (1) a review of systematic reviews facilitated the identification of core information needs; (2) content was developed in collaboration with a Virtual Reference Group (VRG) comprising patients, carers and professionals; and, (3) subject experts within the project team worked with a web developer to précis the agreed content and ensure it was in a format that was appropriate for a website. Members of the VRG were then invited to test and approve the website before it was made available to the general public.
RESULTS: Nineteen systematic reviews identified nine consensus areas of core information required by carers; a description of palliative care; prognosis and treatment of the condition; medication and pain management; personal care; specialist equipment; locally available support services; what to do in an emergency; nutrition; and, support for the carer. This information was shared with the VRG and used to develop website content.
CONCLUSIONS: We engaged with service users and professionals to develop an evidence-based website addressing the agreed core information needs of non-professional carers who wish to provide palliative care to a friend or relative.
Witnessing end-of-life suffering of loved ones is an underappreciated stressor that may affect caregiver bereavement. We interviewed 61 spousal caregivers of hospice patients who died within the past 6–18 months. Higher rumination about suffering and lower feelings of relief was related to poorer well-being. Rumination by caregivers about end-of-life suffering was an important predictor of depression and complicated grief. Most caregivers viewed the death as at least in part a relief. One important focus of grief support may be to help caregivers find productive ways to avoid rumination and use other forms of coping and to acknowledge feelings of relief.
Nurses who care for patients with life-limiting illness operate at the interface of family caregivers (FCGs), patients, and prescribers and are uniquely positioned to guide late-life medication management, including challenging discussions about deprescribing. The study objective was to describe nurses’ perspectives about their role in hospice FCG medication management. Content analysis was used to analyze qualitative interviews with nurses from a parent study exploring views on medication management and deprescribing for advanced cancer patients. Ten home and inpatient hospice nurses, drawn from 3 hospice agencies and their referring hospital systems in New England, were asked to describe current practices of medication management and deprescribing and to evaluate a pilot tool to standardize hospice medication review. Analysis of the 10 interviews revealed that hospice nurses are receptive to a standardized approach for comprehensive medication review upon hospice transition and responded favorably to opportunities to discuss medication discontinuation with FCGs and prescribers. Effective framing for discussions included focus on reducing harmful and nonessential medications and reducing caregiver burden. Results indicate that nurses who care for hospice-eligible and enrolled patients are willing to discuss deprescribing with FCGs and prescribers when conversations are framed around medication harms and their impact on quality of life.
Background: Patients with heart failure (HF) have not been considered as major beneficiaries of advance directives (ADs). We analyzed factors affecting the preferences for the adoption of ADs by patients with HF and their caregivers.
Methods and Results: Seventy-one patient (mean age: 68 years)–caregiver (mean age: 55 years) dyads were enrolled during clinic visits for routine care at a single institution and completed questionnaires during in-person visits. Cohen's kappa coefficients and generalized estimating equation models were used to analyze the data. The agreement on dyadic perspectives for aggressive treatments was poor or fair, whereas agreement relative to hospice care was moderate (k = 0.42, 95% confidence interval = 0.087–0.754). Both patients and caregivers demonstrated poor knowledge of ADs and similar levels of perceived benefits and barriers to advance care planning. However, the caregivers had more positive attitudes toward ADs than patients. Patients and caregivers who were older and/or males had greater odds of preferring aggressive treatments and/or hospice care. Further, those with depressive symptoms had lower odds of preferring hospice care.
Conclusion: The dyadic agreement was moderately high only for hospice care preferences. Both patients and caregivers demonstrated knowledge of shortfalls regarding ADs. Timely AD discussions could increase dyadic agreement and enhance informed and shared decision-making regarding medical care.
Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Ideal management plan in MND includes palliative care initiated from the time of diagnosis. At present, most of the neurodegenerative conditions are cared for at home. Neuropalliative care is an emerging concept in India and social workers are integral team members in this process. The primary aims of the study were to explore (a) the caregivers' experiences of the end-of-life stage, and (b) the sources of support for individuals and their caregivers with MND at the end-of-life stage. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven bereaved caregivers of individuals with MND from a national tertiary referral care center for neuropsychiatry in South India. Interviews were conducted either in person or by telephone. Thematic analysis was done using the constant comparative method. Major themes derived from the interviews were: (1) Transition from person to patient, (2) support, (3) death, and (4) impact on the caregivers. Mapping of themes identified "Support received during advanced stages" as the central theme influencing all other themes. The need for a care manager seems evident and is a role that can be effectively fulfilled by the care teams' social workers.
BACKGROUND: Emotional distress often causes patients with cancer and their family caregivers (FCGs) to avoid end-of-life discussions and advance care planning (ACP), which may undermine quality of life (QoL). Most ACP interventions fail to address emotional barriers that impede timely ACP.
AIM: We assessed feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a mindfulness-based intervention to facilitate ACP for adults with advanced-stage cancer and their FCGs.
DESIGN: A single-arm pilot was conducted to assess the impact of a 6-week group mindfulness intervention on ACP behaviors (patients only), QoL, family communication, avoidant coping, distress, and other outcomes from baseline (T1) to post-intervention (T2) and 1 month later (T3).
PARTICIPANTS: Eligible patients had advanced-stage solid malignancies, limited ACP engagement, and an FCG willing to participate. Thirteen dyads (N = 26 participants) enrolled at an academic cancer center in the United States.
RESULTS: Of eligible patients, 59.1% enrolled. Attendance (70.8% across 6 sessions) and retention (84.6% for patients; 92.3% for FCGs) through T3 were acceptable. Over 90% of completers reported high intervention satisfaction. From T1 to T3, patient engagement more than doubled in each of 3 ACP behaviors assessed. Patients reported large significant decreases in distress at T2 and T3. Family caregivers reported large significant improvements in QoL and family communication at T2 and T3. Both patients and FCGs reported notable reductions in sleep disturbance and avoidant coping at T3.
CONCLUSIONS: The mindfulness intervention was feasible and acceptable and supported improvements in ACP and associated outcomes for patients and FCGs. A randomized trial of mindfulness training for ACP is warranted. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov with identifier NCT02367508 ( https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02367508 ).
Illness blogs have been used by many individuals to describe their experiences, share knowledge, and gather support. The purpose of this study was to identify needs, concerns, and advice from the blogs of caregivers caring for a person with dementia at the end of life (EOL). A qualitative thematic analysis was performed of 192 blog postings from six dementia family caregivers during the EOL. A Google search using a systematic identification method was followed. Caregivers were females caring for mothers (n = 5) and husbands (n = 1). Themes varied by EOL stage within the contextual environment of Grief/Loss, Family, and Spirituality. Pre-death themes were Care Transitions and Quality; dying were Physical and Emotional Aspects; and post-death were Relief and Remembering. Four additional themes transitioned across stages: Decision-Making, Health Care Providers, Advice, and Caregiver Support. Findings suggest caregiver needs, concerns, and advice vary by EOL stage. Implications for tailored interventions should be considered.
BACKGROUND: The intensive care unit (ICU) is a care context that is sometimes described as being unconducive to the values and ideals of a good death in end-of-life care. Such assumptions render the ICU emblematic of a troubling discourse about end-of-life care in this clinical context.
AIM: To stimulate a reflective examination of intensive care nursing practice with respect to end-of-life care.
METHODS: The work of contemporary nursing scholar Laurie Gottlieb is used to perform a strengths-based relational ethical examination of previously published literature that describes critical care nurses' experiences of providing end-of-life care in the ICU.
FINDINGS: This literature suggests that the relational ethical value of authentic engagement, which is fundamental to the disciplinary ethos of expert palliative care nursing, is reflected in the everyday practice of intensive care nurses whose patients die while under their care.
CONCLUSION: A strengths-based approach can make visible the relational ethical practice of critical care nurses who care for dying patients and their families in the ICU.
BACKGROUND: Addressing the concerns of family members is an important aspect of palliative and end-of-life care. One aspect that commonly causes family caregivers concern is the decline of patients' oral fluid intake in the last few days of life.
AIM: To map the narratives in which family members' experiences of witnessing the diminishing drinking of a dying relative have been researched, review the findings within each narrative and consider directions for future research.
DESIGN: An adapted meta-narrative review approach.
DATA SOURCES: The Cumulative Index of Nursing and Applied Health Literature, Medline, PsycINFO, Psycharticles and Scopus databases were searched for relevant research published between January 1982 and December 2017. Quality was assessed using the Quality Assessment and Review Instrument.
RESULTS: A total of 22 papers met the inclusion criteria. No study focused specifically on the experiences of family members when witnessing the diminishing drinking of dying relatives. However, research about diminishing drinking was identified within studies broadly focusing on cancer cachexia, clinical decision-making about hydration and/or nutrition and support in a hospice context. The research indicates that family members' experiences of diminishing drinking vary with their views about the significance of drinking, dying well and their expectations of themselves and healthcare professionals.
CONCLUSION: While some understanding of the topic can be inferred from research in related areas, there is a paucity of information specifically about family members' experiences when witnessing the diminishing drinking of a dying relative.
This article presents an integrative literature review of the experience of dementia care associated with the extended palliative phase of dementia. The aim was to highlight how dementia is defined in the literature and describe what is known about the symptomatology and management of advanced dementia regarding the needs and preferences of the person with dementia and their family carer/s. There was no consistent definition of advanced dementia. The extended palliative phase was generally synonymous with end-of-life care. Advanced care planning is purported to enable professionals to work together with people with dementia and their families. A lack of understanding of palliative care among frontline practitioners was related to a dearth of educational opportunities in advanced dementia care. There are few robust concepts and theories that embrace living the best life possible during the later stages of dementia. These findings informed our subsequent work around the concept, 'Dementia Palliare'.