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Welcome to the Palliative Care online newsfeed. Here you’ll find all the latest research, news stories, policy updates and guidelines. View our other newsfeeds for more subject-specific news.

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Is earlier access to palliative care associated with better quality end of life care?

New research published in the BMJ outlines the benefits of early access to palliative care for terminally ill patients. The cohort study which examined the experiences of cancer patients in Yorkshire found that patients who were able to access palliative care earlier, experienced improved quality of life.

hospice-1793998_1920The study led by Lucy Ziegler, University of Leeds and Yorkshire Cancer Research questioned if there is an optimal point when a patient should begin to receive palliative care,  when the focus switches from trying to treat disease to managing symptoms.

While research in the US suggests that should happen about six months before death. But in the UK, most advanced cancer patients only start palliative care seven weeks before they die.

Full story available from The University of Leeds  The benefits of early access to palliative care 

The full abstract can be read in the BMJ  

The full text article can be downloaded here 

Related story: The Independent Too few cancer patients are getting end of life care 

Cancer diagnoses and incidence rates in England in 2016

The Office for National Statistics and Public Health England  have released statistics for Cancer diagnoses in England for 2016.

The main points are:

  • The number of new cases of cancer in England continues to rise and, in 2016, there were 303,135 cancers registered (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers); this is an increase of 3,212 from 2015 and is equivalent to 828 new cases being diagnosed each day during 2016.
  • More cancers were registered in males (155,019) than females (148,116) and across the majority of cancer sites, more males were diagnosed with cancer than females; this is a persistent feature of the data, as reported in previous cancer registration years.
  • The age-standardised incidence rates for newly diagnosed cancers were 663.4 per 100,000 males and 541.1 per 100,000 females; age-standardised rates for newly registered cases of cancer (incidence) were higher in males than females, which is a repeating trend of the data, as outlined in previous cancer registration statistics.
  • Breast (15.2%), prostate (13.4%), lung (12.7%) and colorectal (11.5%) cancers continue to account for over half of the cancer registrations in England for all ages combined.

The bulletin can be downloaded here 

The dataset for 2016 (and previous years)  can be found here 

Effective palliative homecare models

Seow, H. and Bainbridge, D. | A Review of the Essential Components of Quality Palliative Care in the Home | Journal of Palliative Medicine. January 2018, 21(S1): S-37-S-44

birdhouse-48965_1280 Objective: The home is an important and often preferable setting of palliative care. While much research has demonstrated the benefits of specialized palliative homecare on patient and system outcomes, there has been little delineation of the underlying components of these efficacious programs. We synthesized the essential elements of palliative homecare from a combined review of successful programs, perspectives of patients and caregivers, and views of healthcare providers in palliative care.

Methods: Five unique palliative homecare studies were included in the rapid review and synthesis—(1) systematic review of the components of efficacious programs; (2) in-depth analysis of 11 effective community-based teams; (3) survey of bereaved caregivers; (4) survey of the general public; and (5) interviews of providers and administrators. A qualitative approach was used to identify transcending themes across the studies.

Results: Six essential elements of quality palliative homecare were common across the studies: (1) Integrated teamwork; (2) Management of pain and physical symptoms; (3) Holistic care; (4) Caring, compassionate, and skilled providers; (5) Timely and responsive care; and (6) Patient and family preparedness.

Conclusions: Our metasynthesis of effective palliative homecare models, as well as, the values of those who use and provide these services, illuminates the underpinning elements of quality home-based care for patients with a life-limiting illness. However, the application of these elements must be relevant to the local community context. To create impactful, sustainable homecare programs, it is critical to capitalize on existing processes, partnerships, and assets.

Full document available here

Public Health Awareness Campaigns & palliative care

The Impact of Public Health Awareness Campaigns on the Awareness and Quality of Palliative Care | Journal of Palliative Medicine

Objective: The right to health includes a right of access to good quality palliative care, but inequalities persist. Raising awareness is a key plank of the public health approach to palliative care, but involves consideration of subjects most of us prefer not to address. This review addresses the question: “do public health awareness campaigns effectively improve the awareness and quality of palliative care”?

Background: The evidence shows that public awareness campaigns can improve awareness of palliative care and probably improve quality of care, but there is a lack of evidence about the latter.

Results: A comprehensive public awareness campaign about palliative care (including advance care planning and end-of-life decision making) should be based on clear and shared terminology, use well piloted materials, and the full range of mass media to suit different ages, cultures, and religious/spiritual perspectives. Arts and humanities have a role to play in allowing individuals and communities to express experiences of illness, death, and grief and encourage conversation and thoughtful reflection. There is evidence about key factors for success: targeting, networking, and use of specific, measurable, achievable, realistic time-bound objectives; continuous evaluation; and complementarity to national and international policy.

Discussion: Campaigns should be located within the framework of public health promotion and the synergy between short national mass media campaigns and longer term local community action initiatives carefully considered. National and local projects to raise awareness should identify and address any barriers at the level of individuals, communities, and systems of care, for example, literacy skills and unequal access to resources.

Full reference:
Seymour, J | The Impact of Public Health Awareness Campaigns on the Awareness and Quality of Palliative Care |Journal of Palliative Medicine |January 2018, 21 (S1): S-30-S-36.

End of life care collaborative

NHS Improvement have published information about the End of life care collaborative.  They ran a 150-day programme, involving 16 volunteer trusts, to improve end of life care across a number of settings to improve the experience and quality of care received by patients at end of life.  They have published the following case studies:

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS FT
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FT
Rotherham NHS FT
Hillingdon Hospitals NHS FT
St George’s University NHS Trust
Cumbria Partnership NHS FT
Colchester Hospital University NHS FT

 

Award-winning initiative gives people the opportunity to shape their end of life care

Warrington CCG has landed a top prize in the Health Service Journal Awards for their work to improve end of life care with personal health budgets.

Winning the 2017 “Compassionate patient care” award, Warrington is one of five areas across the country now giving people more of a say in the care they receive in their last weeks and months of life. Personal health budgets are part of a range of work being led by NHS England to improve end of life care.

Hear patients, hospice staff and commissioners talk about the benefits of personal health budgets in Warrington in this short film:

Commissioning children’s palliative care

Commissioning children’s palliative care in England: 2017 edition | Together for Short Lives 

This report summarises responses to a Freedom of Information request sent to every CCG and upper-tier local authority in England, asking how they plan care and support for children who need palliative care and their families, and which services they commission for them.

The report found that:

  • Children’s palliative care commissioning in England is patchy and inconsistent
  • The government’s end of life care choice commitment is not being fulfilled in almost half of local areas in England
  • Most CCGs have not implemented the new clinical guidance for children who need palliative care
  • Even though many seriously ill children need care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, commissioners are failing to plan and fund this support
  • Many local authorities are failing to commission short breaks for children who  need palliative care, despite being legally obliged to do so
  • There is a postcode lottery of bereavement care across England for parents whose child has died
  • CCGs and local authorities are failing to fund voluntary sector children’s palliative care organisations – including children’s hospices
  • Too many areas still do not commission age and developmentally appropriate services for young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions
  • Despite significant challenges across England, there are still some examples of commissioners reporting a broad range of children’s palliative care commissioning.

The report proposes a number of recommendations in response to these findings.

Full report:  Commissioning children’s palliative care in EnglandTogether for Short Lives’ report on children’s palliative care services commissioned by NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities in England.