Anstey, S. et al. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Published online 21 June
Background: The delivery of end-of-life care in nursing homes is challenging. This situation is of concern as 20% of the population die in this setting. Commonly reported reasons include limited access to medical care, inadequate clinical leadership and poor communication between nursing home and medical staff. Education for nursing home staff is suggested as the most important way of overcoming these obstacles.
Objectives: To identify educational interventions to enhance end-of-life care for nursing home staff and to identify types of study designs and outcomes to indicate success and benchmark interventions against recent international guidelines for education for palliative and end-of-life care.
Design: Thirteen databases and reference lists of key journals were searched from the inception of each up to September 2014. Included studies were appraised for quality and data were synthesised thematically.
Results: Twenty-one studies were reviewed. Methodological quality was poor. Education was not of a standard that could be expected to alter clinical behaviour and was evaluated mainly from the perspectives of staff: self-reported increase in knowledge, skills and confidence delivering care rather than direct evidence of impact on clinical practice and patient outcomes. Follow-up was often short term, and despite sound economic arguments for delivering effective end-of-life care to reduce burden on the health service, no economic analyses were reported.
Conclusions: There is a clear and urgent need to design educational interventions that have the potential to improve end-of-life care in nursing homes. Robust evaluation of these interventions should include impact on residents, families and staff and include economic analysis.
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