Background: Health service planning in paediatric palliative care is complex, with the diverse geographical and demographic characteristics adding to the challenge of developing services across different nations. Accurate and reliable data are essential to inform effective, efficient and equitable health services.
Aim: To quantify health service usage by children and young people aged 0–21 years with a life-limiting condition admitted to hospital and health service facilities in Queensland, Australia during the 2011 and 2016 calendar years, and describe the clinical and demographic characteristics associated with health services usage.
Design: Retrospective health administrative data linkage of clinical and demographic information with hospital admissions was extracted using International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM) diagnostic codes. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.
Setting/participants: Individuals aged 0–21 years with a life-limiting condition admitted to a Queensland Public Hospital and Health Service or private hospital.
Results: Hospital admissions increased from 17 955 in 2011 to 23 273 in 2016, an increase of 5318 (29.6%). The greatest percentage increase in admissions were for those aged 16–18 years (58.1%, n=1050), and those with non-oncological conditions (36.2%, n=4256). The greatest number of admissions by ICD-10-AM chapter for 2011 and 2016 were by individuals with neoplasms (6174, 34.4% and 7206, 31.0% respectively). Overall, the number of admissions by Indigenous children and young people increased by 70.2% (n=838).
Conclusions: Administrative data are useful to describe clinical and demographic characteristics and quantify health service usage. Available data suggest a growing demand for health services by children eligible for palliative care that will require an appropriate response from health service planners.
Context: Many countries have aging populations. Thus, the need for palliative care will increase. However, the methods to estimate optimal staffing for specialist palliative care teams are rudimentary as yet.
Objectives: To develop a population-need, workforce planning model for community-based palliative care specialist teams and to apply the model to forecast the staff needed to care for all patients with terminal illness, organ failure, and frailty over the next twenty years, with and without the expansion of primary palliative care.
Methods: We used operations research (linear programming) to model the problem. We used the framework of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and the Nova Scotia palliative care strategy to apply the model.
Results: To meet the palliative care needs for persons dying across Nova Scotia in 2019, the model generated an estimate of 70.8 nurses, 23.6 physicians and 11.9 social workers, a total of 106.3 staff. Thereby, the model indicated that a 64% increase in specialist palliative care staff was needed immediately, and a further 13.1% increase would be needed over the next 20 years. Trained primary palliative care providers currently meet 3.7% of need, and with their expansion are expected to meet 20.3% by 2038.
Conclusion: Historical, current, and projected data can be used with operations research to forecast staffing levels for specialist palliative care teams under various scenarios. The forecast can be updated as new data emerges, applied to other populations, and used to test alternative delivery models.
Early planning and knowing which factors to consider when planning the location of death (LOD) of a palliative child, may help minimize the burden of hasty decision-making in the future, and may provide families with a sense of control. The current paper reviewed which factors were associated with pediatric LOD and further considered some emerging factors that should are important to better facilitate integrative planning. Three overarching areas of consideration related to pediatric LOD planning were identified including health service factors, familial factors and patient factors. Multiple sub-factor considerations are presented. Further, the paper presents a conceptual model of the factors found to be related to pediatric LOD planning. The limitations that exist with rigorously and empirically studying pediatric LOD preferences are apparent from the dearth of knowledge seen in the field. However, future studies should continue to examine such factors more closely to better understand the nuanced implications.
Specialist palliative care services (SPCS) have a vital role to play in the global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Core expertise in complex symptom management, decision making in uncertainty, advocacy and education, and ensuring a compassionate response are essential, and SPCS are well positioned to take a proactive approach in crisis management planning. SPCS resource capacity is likely to be overwhelmed, and consideration needs to be given to empowering and supporting high-quality primary palliative care in all care locations. Our local SPCS have developed a Palliative Care Pandemic Pack to disseminate succinct and specific information, guidance, and resources designed to enable the rapid upskilling of nonspecialist clinicians needing to provide palliative care. It may be a useful tool for our SPCS colleagues to adapt as we face this global challenge collaboratively.
I had been on the phone with Madeleine's mother for fifteen minutes, and she had sobbed throughout. She pleaded with me, "You won't even let our family visit her together. If you really want to help my daughter, you will let us stay with her." Madeleine, who was twenty-four years old, was dying of end-stage acute myeloid leukemia and was intubated in one of our intensive care units. Her intensivist had requested a clinical ethics consultation for potentially inappropriate medical treatment-in my world of clinical ethics consultation, routine stuff. Except that, in March 2020, nothing was routine anymore. The Covid-19 pandemic calls for creative thinking about ad hoc and post hoc bereavement efforts, and it may result in efforts to revise existing accounts of what constitutes a good death in order to accommodate patients' and families' experiences at the end of life during a pandemic.
BACKGROUND: People who engage in advance care planning (ACP) are more likely to receive health care that is concordant with their goals at the end of life. Little discussion of ACP occurs in primary care.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe primary care clinicians' perspectives on having ACP conversations with their patients.
METHODS: We conducted a survey of family physicians and non-physician clinicians in primary care in 2014-2015. We compared family physicians and non-physician clinicians on willingness, confidence, participation and acceptability for other clinicians to engage in six aspects of ACP (initiating, exchanging information, decision coaching, finalizing plans, helping communicate plans with family members and other health professionals) on scales from 0 = not at all/extremely unacceptable to 6 = very/all the time/extremely acceptable.
RESULTS: The response rate was 72% (n = 117) among family physicians and 69% (n = 64) among non-physician clinicians. Mean ratings (standard deviation [SD]) of willingness were high (4.5 [1.4] to 5.0 [1.2] for physicians; 3.4 [1.8] to 4.6 [1.6] non-physician clinicians). There was little participation (mean ratings 2.4 [1.7] to 2.7 [1.6] for physicians, 1.0 [1.5] to 1.4 [1.7] for non-physician clinicians). Non-physician clinicians rated confidence statistically significantly lower than physicians for all ACP aspects. Acceptability for non-physician clinician involvement was high in both groups (mean acceptability ratings greater than 4).
CONCLUSION: Current engagement of primary care clinicians in ACP is low. Given the high willingness and acceptability for non-physician clinician involvement, increasing the capacity of non-physician clinicians could enable uptake of ACP in primary care.
OBJECTIVES: Patients with indicators for palliative care, such as those with advanced life-limiting conditions, are at risk of futile cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Patients at risk of futile CPR could benefit from anticipatory care planning (ACP); however, the proportion of OHCA patients with indicators for palliative care is unknown. This study quantifies the extent of palliative care indicators and risk of CPR futility in OHCA patients.
METHODS: A retrospective medical record review was performed on all OHCA patients presenting to an emergency department (ED) in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2015. The risk of CPR futility was stratified using the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool. Patients with 0-2 indicators had a 'low risk' of futile CPR; 3-4 indicators had an 'intermediate risk'; 5+ indicators had a 'high risk'.
RESULTS: Of the 283 OHCA patients, 12.4% (35) had a high risk of futile CPR, while 16.3% (46) had an intermediate risk and 71.4% (202) had a low risk. 84.0% (68) of intermediate-to-high risk patients were pronounced dead in the ED or ED step-down ward; only 2.5% (2) of these patients survived to discharge.
CONCLUSIONS: Up to 30% of OHCA patients are being subjected to advanced resuscitation despite having at least three indicators for palliative care. More than 80% of patients with an intermediate-to-high risk of CPR futility are dying soon after conveyance to hospital, suggesting that ACP can benefit some OHCA patients. This study recommends optimising emergency treatment planning to help reduce inappropriate CPR attempts.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the effectiveness of advance care planning (ACP) in frail older adults.
DESIGN: Cluster randomized controlled trial.
SETTING: Residential care homes in the Netherlands (N=16).
PARTICIPANTS: Care home residents and community-dwelling adults receiving home care (N=201; n=101 intervention; n=100 control). Participants were 75 years and older, frail, and capable of consenting to participation.
INTERVENTION: Adjusted Respecting Choices ACP program.
MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was change in patient activation (Patient Activation Measure, PAM-13) between baseline and 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes included change in quality of life (SF-12), advance directive (AD) completion, and surrogate decision-maker appointment. Use of medical care in the 12 months after inclusion was also assessed. Multilevel analyses were performed, controlling for clustering effects and differences in demographics.
RESULTS: Seventy-seven intervention participants and 83 controls completed the follow-up assessment. There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention (-0.26±11.2) and control group (-1.43±10.6) in change scores of the PAM (p=.43) or the SF-12. Of intervention group participants, 93% completed an AD, and 94% appointed a decision-maker. Of control participants, 34% completed an AD, and 67% appointed a decision-maker (p<.001). No differences in the use of medical care were found.
CONCLUSIONS: ACP did not increase levels of patient activation or quality of life but did increase completion of ADs and appointment of surrogate decision-makers. It did not affect use of medical care.
BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial treatment is common at end of life. A treatment escalation/limitation plan (TELP) offers the opportunity to avoid non-beneficial treatment in critically ill patients. Our aim was to evaluate antimicrobial prescribing in terminally ill patients, and assess whether it was modified using a TELP.
METHODS: Appropriateness of antimicrobial treatment was audited using a priori criteria in 94 consecutive hospital deaths. Prescribing in patients whose death was expected/unexpected, and who had a TELP with/without a 'ceiling' for antimicrobials, were compared.
RESULTS: Twenty three of 94 patients (24.5%) were receiving antimicrobials at time of death. This was not influenced by evidence of infection or whether death was expected. The use of a TELP (n = 81) with an antimicrobial 'ceiling' (28 with, 53 without) was associated with a significant reduction in antimicrobials administered (28.6% vs 81.1%; p < 0.0005).
CONCLUSIONS: Many complex factors contribute to antimicrobial misuse at end of life. An appropriately constructed TELP reduces inappropriate prescribing.
BACKGROUND: Patient-centered care for older adults with CKD requires communication about patient's values, goals of care, and treatment preferences. Eliciting this information requires tools that patients understand and that enable effective communication about their care preferences.
METHODS: Nephrology clinic patients age = 60 years with stage 4 or 5 nondialysis-dependent CKD selected one of four responses to the question, "If you had a serious illness, what would be important to you?" Condensed versions of the options were, "Live as long as possible;" "Try treatments, but do not suffer;" "Focus on comfort;" or "Unsure." Patients also completed a validated health outcome prioritization tool and an instrument determining the acceptability of end-of-life scenarios. Patient responses to the three tools were compared.
RESULTS: Of the 382 participants, 35% (n=134) selected "Try treatments, but do not suffer;" 33% (n=126) chose "Focus on comfort;" 20% (n=75) opted for "Live as long as possible;" and 12% (n=47) selected "Unsure." Answers were associated with patients' first health outcome priority and acceptability of end-of-life scenarios. One third of patients with a preference to "Focus on comfort" reported that a life on dialysis would not be worth living compared with 5% of those who chose "Live as long as possible" (P<0.001). About 90% of patients agreed to share their preferences with their providers.
CONCLUSIONS: Older adults with advanced CKD have diverse treatment preferences and want to share them. A single treatment preference question correlated well with longer, validated health preference tools and may provide a point of entry for discussions about patient's treatment goals.
While terminal palliative care focuses primarily on the management of symptoms of immediate dying, early palliative care provides an opportunity for the patient and his loved ones to understand the trajectory of the illness, to receive support for coping with the diagnosis, increase the quality of decision-making to match the patients values and preferences. The emphasis is on realistic expectations of the outcome of treatment and timely anticipation of further disease course. The paper focuses on an overview of the evidence of palliative and supportive interventions, comparing the different trigger mechanisms for palliative intervention and presents the content of the intervention of the palliative team. The establishment and integration of the consultative palliative team in the tertiary hospital is described. An illustrative care report describes the goals of care conversation and its impact on advance care planning. Palliative care is widely accepted and recommended standard of high quality care for seriously ill patients. In the Czech Republic, it is necessary to extend its availability for patients hospitalized in acute care setting.
INTRODUCTION: Two-thirds of chronically ill patients do not have an advance directive. The primary aim of this study was to develop an intervention to increase the documentation of advance directives in elderly adults in an internal medicine resident primary care clinic. The secondary aims were to improve resident confidence in discussing advance care planning and increase the number of discussions.
METHODS: The study was a pre- and postintervention study. The study intervention was a 30-minute educational session on advance care planning. Study participants were patients aged 65 years and older who were seen in an internal medicine residency primary care clinic over a 6-month period and internal medicine residents. Clinic encounters were reviewed for the presence of advance care planning discussions before and after the intervention. Resident confidence was measured on a Likert scale.
RESULTS: Two hundred ninety-five eligible patients were seen in the clinic from January 1, 2017, to June 30, 2017, and included in the analysis performed between 2017 and 2018. The mean number of documented advance care planning discussions increased from 2.24 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0-4.9) during the preintervention period to 8.94 (95% CI: 5.94-13.24]) during the postintervention period (P = .0011). Following the intervention, residents overall reported increased confidence in discussing advance care planning.
CONCLUSION: A relatively modest intervention to increase advance care planning discussions is feasible in an internal medicine primary care clinic and can improve the confidence of residents with end-of-life discussion.
OBJECTIVES: Advance care planning (ACP) is essential for patient-centred care in the last phase of life. There is little evidence available on the safety of ACP. This study characterises and explores patient safety incidents arising from ACP processes in the last phase of life.
METHODS: The National Reporting and Learning System collates patient safety incident reports across England and Wales. We performed a keyword search and manual review to identify relevant reports, April 2005-December 2015. Mixed-methods, combining structured data coding, exploratory and thematic analyses were undertaken to describe incidents, underlying causes and outcomes, and identify areas for improvement.
RESULTS: We identified 70 reports in which ACP caused a patient safety incident across three error categories: (1) ACP not completed despite being appropriate (23%, n=16). (2) ACP completed but not accessible or miscommunicated between professionals (40%, n=28). (3) ACP completed and accessible but not followed (37%, n=26). Themes included staff lacking the knowledge, confidence, competence or belief in trustworthiness of prior documentation to create or enact ACP. Adverse outcomes included cardiopulmonary resuscitation attempts contrary to ACP, other inappropriate treatment and/or transfer or admission.
CONCLUSION: This national analysis identifies priority concerns and questions whether it is possible to develop strong system interventions to ensure safety and quality in ACP without significant improvement in human-dependent issues in social programmes such as ACP. Human-dependent issues (ie, varying patient, carer and professional understanding, and confidence in enacting prior ACP when required) should be explored in local contexts alongside systems development for ACP documentation.
It is recommended that advance care planning take place across the lifespan. Rural populations have a heightened risk for poor quality and high cost of end-of-life care. A doctoral project was completed to assess rural nurses’ knowledge, attitudes, and experiences with advance directives using the Knowledge, Attitudinal, and Experimental Surveys on Advance Directives. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis. Participants were nurses who practice in rural settings (N = 22). The average age was 46.4 years; all were white (n = 22), and the majority were baccalaureate prepared (n = 12). Practice settings were primarily in home care and hospice. Knowledge scores on advance directives were low (57%). Nurses felt confident in counseling and initiating discussions with patients and families. Less than one-half of the nurses reported they feel part of the advance care planning team. The majority reported advance directive resources and mentorship of younger nurses would be beneficial and indicated the need for additional education, training, knowledge, time, and support to better assist with advance care planning. Project results and recommendations were presented to the participating health care organization. Recommendations included workplace education, support, mentorship, resources, and education on cultural sensitivity using the rural nursing theory.
BACKGROUND: The concept of advance care planning is largely derived from Western countries. However, the decision-making process and drivers for choosing palliative care in non-Western cultures have received little attention.
AIM: To explore the decision-making processes and drivers of receiving palliative care in advance care planning discussions from perspectives of advanced cancer patients, families and healthcare professionals in northern Taiwan.
METHOD: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with advanced cancer patients, their families and healthcare professionals independently from inpatient oncology and hospice units. Thematic analysis with analytical rigour enhanced by dual coding and exploration of divergent views.
RESULTS: Forty-five participants were interviewed (n = 15 from each group). Three main decision-making trajectories were identified: (1) 'choose palliative care' was associated with patients' desire to reduce physical suffering from treatments, avoid being a burden to families and society, reduce futile treatments and donate organs to help others; (2) 'decline palliative care' was associated with patients weighing up perceived benefits to others as more important than benefits for themselves; and (3) 'no opportunity to choose palliative care' was associated with lack of opportunities to discuss potential benefits of palliative care, lack of staff skill in end-of-life communication, and cultural factors, notably filial piety.
CONCLUSION: Choice for palliative care among advanced cancer patients in Taiwan is influenced by three decision-making trajectories. Opinions from families are highly influential, and patients often lack information on palliative care options. Strategies to facilitate decision-making require staff confidence in end-of-life discussions, working with the patients and their family while respecting the influence of filial piety.
Background and Objectives: To address the unique characteristics of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) that complicate end-of-life (EOL), we created, refined, and validated a dementia-focused EOL planning instrument for use by healthy adults, those with early-stage dementia, family caregivers, and clinicians to document EOL care preferences and values within the current or future context of cognitive impairment.
Research Design and Methods: A mixed-method design with four phases guided the development and refinement of the instrument: (1) focus groups with early-stage ADRD and family caregivers developed and confirmed the tool content and comprehensiveness; (2) evaluation by content experts verified its utility in clinical practice; (3) a sample of healthy older adults (n = 153) and adults with early-stage ADRD (n = 38) completed the tool, whose quantitative data were used to describe the psychometrics of the instrument; and (4) focus groups with healthy older adults, family caregivers, and adults with early-stage ADRD informed how the guide should be used by families and in clinical practice.
Results: Qualitative data supported the utility and feasibility of a dementia-focused EOL planning tool; the six scales have high internal consistency (a = 0.66–0.89) and high test–rest reliability (r = .60–.90). On average, both participant groups reported relatively high concern for being a burden to their families, a greater preference for quality over length of life, a desire for collaborative decision-making process, limited interest in pursuing life-prolonging measures, and were mixed in their preference to control the timing of their death. Across disease progression, preferences for location of care changed, whereas preferences for prolonging life remained stable.
Discussion and Implications: The LEAD Guide (Life-Planning in Early Alzheimer's and Dementia) has the potential to facilitate discussion and documentation of EOL values and care preferences prior to loss of decisional capacity, and has utility for healthy adults, patients, families, providers, and researchers.
Primary care physicians are increasingly incorporating screening tools for substance use disorders (SUDs) and referral to treatment into their practice. Despite efforts to provide access to treatment, patients with SUDs remain at an increased risk of mortality, both from overdose and from general medical conditions. Advance care planning (ACP) is recommended for patients with chronic, progressive medical conditions such as malignancies or heart failure. Though SUDs are widely acknowledged to be chronic diseases associated with an increased risk of mortality, there has been little discussion on ACP in this population. ACP is a discussion regarding future care, often including selection of a surrogate decision-maker and completion of an advanced directive. ACP has been associated with better quality of end-of-life and care more consistent with patient preferences. Studies in other vulnerable populations have shown that marginalized and high-risk individuals may be less likely to receive ACP. Similarly, patients with SUDs may employ different decision-makers than that defined by law (i.e., friend vs. family member), increasing the importance of discussing patient values and social structure. Physicians should routinely conduct ACP conversations with patients with SUDs, especially those with chronic, progressive medical conditions and/or severe, uncontrolled substance use disorders.
CONTEXT: Few randomized controlled trials of advance care planning with a decision aid (DA) show an effect on patient preferences for end-of-life (EOL) care over time, especially in racial/ethnic settings outside the United States.
OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to examine the effect of a decision aid consisting of a video and an advance care planning (ACP) booklet for end-of-life (EOL) care preferences among patients with advanced cancer.
METHODS: Using a computer-generated sequence, we randomly assigned (1:1) advanced cancer patients to a group that received a video and workbook that both discussed either ACP (intervention group) or cancer pain control (control group). At baseline, immediately post-intervention, and at 7 weeks, we evaluated the subjects' preferences. The primary outcome was preference for EOL care (active treatment, life-prolonging treatment, or hospice care) on the assumption of a fatal disease diagnosis and the expectation of death 1) within 1 year, 2) within several months, and 3) within a few weeks. We used Bonferroni correction methods for multiple comparisons with an adjusted p level of 0.005.
RESULTS: From August 2017 to February 2018, we screened 287 eligible patients, of whom 204 were enrolled to the intervention (104 patients) or the control (100 patients). At post-intervention, the intervention group showed a significant increase in preference for active treatment, life-prolonging treatment, and hospice care on the assumption of a fatal disease diagnosis and the expectation of death within 1 year (p<0.005). Assuming a life expectancy of several months, the change in preferences was significant for active treatment and hospice care (p<0.005) but not for life-prolonging treatment. The intervention group showed a significant increase in preference for active treatment, life-prolonging treatment, and hospice care on the assumption of a fatal disease diagnosis and the expectation of death within a few weeks (p<0.005). From baseline to 7 weeks, the decrease in preference in the intervention group was not significant for active treatment, for life-prolonging treatment, and for hospice care in the intervention group in the subset expecting to die within 1 year, compared with the control group. Assuming a life expectancy of several months and a few weeks, the change in preferences was not significant for active treatment and for life-prolonging treatment, but was significantly greater for hospice care in the intervention group (p<0.005).
CONCLUSION: ACP interventions that included a video and an accompanying book improved preferences for EOL care.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) is the process of discussing and documenting wishes and preferences for future care. Research about ACP for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) is limited. This study describes what is important for ACP in the palliative phase of people with intellectual disabilities.
METHOD: In-depth interviews were conducted with people with intellectual disabilities (n = 5), relatives (n = 7) and professional caregivers (n = 8). Qualitative data were analysed inductively, using the principles of thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Important themes in ACP were as follows: tailoring care, working as a team and taking and giving time. The perceived role of people with intellectual disabilities in ACP was to express their wishes. Relatives had a signalling, representing and contributing role. Professionals felt their role was to inform, collaborate and coordinate.
CONCLUSIONS: A staff training programme about ACP should cover how to build and maintain close relationships, provide a safe environment and address ACP as an integral part of care.