Study shows dying at home more comfortable than hospital

Dying comfortably in very old age with or without dementia in different care settings – a representative “older old” population study | BMC Geriatrics | published online 5th  October 2017

A study from the University of Cambridge in the UK found that elderly people were four times more likely to die comfortably if their last days were spent at home or in a “care home”—defined to be either a residential care home or a nursing home—than if they were in a hospital.

Jane Fleming, a senior research associate at Cambridge, and colleagues, reported in BMC Geriatrics about their retrospective analysis of data from 180 deceased participants, ages 79-107 years. Relatives and caregivers were asked about the patients’ comfort level. The researchers learned only 10% of all participants died without pain or symptoms of distress.

Full document available at BMC Geriatrics

 

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How well do we currently care for our dying patients in acute hospitals

The aim of this study was to evaluate quality of care provided to dying patients and their families in acute hospitals from the perspective of bereaved relatives | BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care

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Background: The National Care of the Dying Audit—Hospitals (NCDAH) is used as a method to evaluate care for dying patients in England. An additional component to the 2013/2014 audit was the Local Survey of Bereaved Relatives Views using the ‘Care Of the Dying Evaluation’ (CODE) questionnaire.

Conclusions: Adopting a postbereavement survey to NCDAH appears to be feasible, acceptable and a valuable addition. On the whole, the majority of participants reported good or excellent care. A small but significant minority, however, perceived poor quality of patient care with clear and timely communication urgently needed.

Full reference: Mayland, C.R. et al. (2017) How well do we currently care for our dying patients in acute hospitals: the views of the bereaved relatives? BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Vol. 07 (Issue 03) pp. 316-325.

Improving hospital-based end of life care processes and outcomes

A systematic review was undertaken to examine the quantity and quality of data-based research aimed at improving the (a) processes and (b) outcomes associated with delivering end-of-life care in hospital settings | BMC Palliative Care

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A total of 416 papers met eligibility criteria. The number increased by 13% each year (p < 0.001). Most studies were descriptive (n = 351, 85%), with fewer measurement (n = 17) and intervention studies (n = 48; 10%). Only 18 intervention studies (4%) met EPOC design criteria. Most reported benefits for end-of-life processes including end-of-life discussions and documentation (9/11). Impact on end-of-life outcomes was mixed, with some benefit for psychosocial distress, satisfaction and concordance in care (3/7).

More methodologically robust studies are needed to evaluate the impact of interventions on end-of-life processes, including whether changes in processes translate to improved end-of-life outcomes. Interventions which target both the patient and substitute decision maker in an effort to achieve these changes would be beneficial.

Full reference: Waller, A. et al. (2017) Improving hospital-based end of life care processes and outcomes: a systematic review of research output, quality and effectiveness. BMC Palliative Care. Published: 19 May 2017

People who are dying should be asked about their spiritual beliefs

NICE has published new guidance calling on healthcare professionals to ask adults in the final days of life about their religious or spiritual beliefs.

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Cultural preferences and spiritual beliefs should be included in discussions about the care a person, and those close to them, want to receive, says NICE.

Knowing if someone holds a religious belief can be important for providing the care they desire. For example, someone who is Catholic may wish to receive the last prayers and ministrations.

The 2016 End of Life Care Audit reported nearly half of all deaths in England occurred in hospital. Spiritual wishes were only documented for one in 7 people who were able to communicate their desires.

Read the full overview here

Read the full guidance here

How well do we currently care for our dying patients in acute hospitals: the views of the bereaved relatives?

Mayland, C.R. et al. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Published Online: 17 January 2017

Background: The National Care of the Dying Audit—Hospitals (NCDAH) is used as a method to evaluate care for dying patients in England. An additional component to the 2013/2014 audit was the Local Survey of Bereaved Relatives Views using the ‘Care Of the Dying Evaluation’ (CODE) questionnaire.

Conclusions: Adopting a postbereavement survey to NCDAH appears to be feasible, acceptable and a valuable addition. On the whole, the majority of participants reported good or excellent care. A small but significant minority, however, perceived poor quality of patient care with clear and timely communication urgently needed.

Read the full abstract here

Hospital doctors’ understanding of use and withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway

Twigger, S. & Yardley, S.J. Palliative Medicine. Published online:  December 8 2016

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Image source: Marina Caruso – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Background: The Liverpool Care Pathway was used in UK hospitals (late 1990s to July 2014) in an attempt to generate hospice-style high-quality end-of-life care in acute settings. Despite being widely established, there was limited research or contextual evidence regarding this approach or its impact. Growing criticism from the public, media, politicians and healthcare professionals culminated with a critical independent review (July 2013) and subsequent withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Conclusion: Future initiatives in hospital end-of-life care must address doctors’ fears, (in)abilty to tolerate medical uncertainty, communication skills and understanding of the dying phase, in order to provide optimum care in the last days of life.

Read the full abstract here

Dying in the hospital setting: end-of-life care that patients and their families describe as being important

Virdun, C. et al. Palliative Medicine. Published online: December 8 2016

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Image source: Michele Angelo Petrone – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Background: Despite most expected deaths occurring in hospital, optimal end-of-life care is not available for all in this setting.

Conclusion: Consumer narratives help to provide a clearer direction as to what is important for hospital end-of-life care. Systems are needed to enable optimal end-of-life care, in accordance with consumer priorities, and embedded into routine hospital care.

Read the full abstract here