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
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
Advance care planning is a process of discussion that enables competent adults to express their wishes about end-of-life care through periods of decisional incapacity | BMC Palliative Care
Although a number of studies have documented social workers’ attitudes toward, knowledge about, and involvement in advance care planning, the information is fragmented. The purpose of this review was to provide a narrative synthesis of evidence on social workers’ perspectives and experiences regarding implementation of advance care planning.
Thirty-one articles met the eligibility criteria. Six research themes were identified: social workers’ attitudes toward advance care planning; social workers’ knowledge, education and training regarding advance care planning; social workers’ involvement in advance care planning; social workers’ perceptions of their roles; ethical issues relevant to advance care planning; and the effect of social work intervention on advance care planning engagement. The findings suggest that there is a consensus among social workers that advance care planning is their duty and responsibility and that social workers play an important role in promoting and implementing advance care planning through an array of activities.
This study provides useful knowledge for implementing advance care planning through illustrating social workers’ perspectives and experiences. Further studies are warranted to understand the complexity inherent in social workers’ involvement in advance care planning for different life-limiting illnesses or within different socio-cultural contexts.
Full reference: Chong-Wen, W. et al. (2017) Social workers’ involvement in advance care planning: a systematic narrative review. BMC Palliative Care. Published online: 10th July 2017
Seow, H. et al. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Published Online: 19 April 2017.
Objective: Evidence has shown that, despite wide variation in models of care, community-based specialist palliative care teams can improve outcomes and reduce acute care use at end of life. The goal of this study was to explore similarities in care practices among effective and diverse specialist teams to inform the development of other community-based teams.
Conclusions: Despite wide variation in models of care among community-based specialist palliative care teams, this large qualitative study identified several common themes in care practices that can guide the development of other teams.
Read the full article here
Michael, N. et al. (2017) BMC Palliative. 16:2
Background: Community-dwelling consumers of healthcare are increasing, many aging with life-limiting conditions and deteriorating cognition. However, few have had advance care planning discussions or completed documentation to ensure future care preferences are acted upon. This study examines the awareness, attitudes, and experiences of advance care planning amongst older people and unrelated offspring/caregivers of older people residing in the community.
Conclusions: Advance care planning programs traditionally assume participants are ‘planning ready’ to legally appoint a substitute decision maker (power of attorney) and record end-of-life treatment preferences in short time frames. This contrasts with how community dwelling older people and offspring/caregivers conceive future care decisions over time. Advance care planning programs need to include provision of information, which supports older people’s advance care planning understanding and management, and also supports offspring/caregivers’ development of strategies for broaching advance care planning with older people, and preparing for potential substitute decision maker roles. Development and integration of strategies to support older people’s decision-making when in the ‘grey zone’, with fluctuating cognitive capacities, needs further consideration. Findings support an advance care planning model with conversations occurring at key points across a person’s lifespan.
Read the full article here
Public Health England has published Public perceptions and experiences of community-based end of life care initiatives: a qualitative research report.
This report is aimed at commissioners of end of life care services to support new ways of commissioning through using public health approaches to build compassionate communities. The key objectives of the research were to understand the awareness and knowledge of community end of life care across a number of key audiences; their perceptions of community end of life care; their experiences of end of life care and any community initiatives; and any improvements that could be made to community end of life care.