The following resources examine the caring needs and issues associated with end of life and palliative care.
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Purpose: Little has been determined regarding the association between patients’ and families’ illness understanding and preferences for medical care. We aimed to evaluate the association of illness understanding with advance care planning (ACP) and preferences for end-of-life care, such as aggressive care, early palliative care (EPC), and hospice care, among advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers. Methods: Patients were recruited for a prospective cohort study at outpatient and inpatient facilities in nine university hospitals in Korea (n = 150), and their primary family caregivers were also asked to participate (n = 101). Data on ACP and end-of-life care preferences were collected only at baseline in the cohort study with optional questions and were used to analyze these study results. Results: Patients with illness understanding were more likely to have documented physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLSTs) (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] of 4.94) and to have discussed ACP with their families (aOR 2.15) than those who did not. Being expected to live for several months, they were unlikely to prefer active treatment. Caregivers understanding patients’ illness were more likely to write advance directives (ADs) and to discuss ACP; furthermore, they had already discussed ACP with family members. They did not prefer active treatment or life-sustaining treatments when their family members were expected to die within a few weeks. There was no significant association between illness understanding and preferences for EPC. Conclusion: Accurately recognizing an incurable disease is associated with preferences for more ACP and less aggressive care but not with preferences for EPC or hospice care among both advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers.
Background: Spirituality can give meaning to life, providing support and guidance in complex situations. Despite its importance in palliative care, the role of spirituality for family caregivers of patients under exclusive palliative care has not received enough attention in the literature. We aimed to address the correlation between spirituality and the emotional burden of family members of patients under exclusive palliative care. Methods: This transversal study was conducted in a tertiary private teaching hospital, in Saõ Paulo, Brazil. The study comprised family members of patients receiving palliative care exclusively. Only one caregiver who cared for the patient for at least 2 months was invited to participate. Family members answered the following questionnaires: WHOQOL spirituality, religiousness and personal beliefs (SRPB), Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) and Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20). They were excluded if patients were residing in a Long Stay Institution. Continuous variables were expressed by median and quartiles and analyzed with the Kruskal-Wallis test with Muller-Dunn post-test adjusted by Bonferroni or with the Mann-Whitney test for two groups. We used multivariable linear regression to identify independent predictors of caregiver burden. Results: A total of 178 family members were interviewed in a median of 8 [4-13.25] days after patient admission. Almost 40% of families presented high score of burden. Faith and Meaning in Life were the facets that scored the highest, with a median of 4.50 [4.00-5.00] for both facets. There was an inverse correlation between Zarit score and all of the WHOQOL-SRPB facets, indicating that the lower the spirituality, the greater the emotional burden. Inner peace was the strongest protective factor associated with burden. Conclusions: Psycho-socio-spiritual interaction can improve the coping ability of family caregivers of patients under exclusive palliative care, addressing a critical gap in the provision of holistic palliative care services.
Background: Caring for patients with advanced or terminal diseases can confront family caregivers (FC) with ethical challenges. The present study aims at tracing paths connected to ethical challenges among FC of advanced cancer patients by exploring morally troubling situations and related burden, as well as strategies to handle the situation and experience of moral distress from the grieving FC's perspective. Methods: Within a qualitative design, interviews with 12 grieving FC were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were analysed using grounded theory and abductive reasoning. Results: Core phenomena identified were two paths connected to ethical challenges among FC. Ethical challenges occurred in the context of difficult decision-making (Path 1) and in the context of lacking decision-making options when no decision was to be made by FC (Path 2). We found each path to be triggered by distinct sets of morally troubling situations that occurred during the patient's disease trajectory. In the course of difficult decision-making (Path 1), detrimental external factors could add emotional stress, thus making the decision-making process burdensome. FC used various proactive strategies to overcome those detrimental factors and/or to make the decision. Decisions in conflict with FCs' own moral expectations and values led to moral distress, generating painful emotions. When no decision was to be made by FC (Path 2), FC felt powerless and overrun, which was associated with major emotionality in terms of anxiety and confusion. Either detrimental factors aggravated these feelings to paralyzing shock, or internal resources enabled FC to accept the situation. While acceptance prevented moral distress, paralyzing shock often caused a sense of not meeting their their own moral expectations and values, resulting in moral distress. In both paths, factors were identified that helped FC finding closure and prevented moral residue. Nevertheless, some FC experienced residual moral distress months after the morally troubling situation had occurred. Conclusion: Findings provide first information towards understanding paths leading to ethical challenges in FC and can help clinicians to minimize associated emotional burden and moral distress.
Background: Family caregivers play an important role supporting their relatives with advanced progressive disease to live at home. There is limited research to understand family caregiver needs over time, particularly outside of high-income settings. The aim of this study was to explore family caregivers' experiences of caring for a relative living with advanced progressive disease at home, and their perceptions of met and unmet care needs over time. Methods: An ethnographic study comprising observations and interviews. A purposive sample of 10 family caregivers and 10 relatives was recruited within a rural area in the north of Portugal. Data were collected between 2014 and 16 using serial participant observations (n = 33) and in-depth interviews (n = 11). Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Five overarching themes were yielded: (1) provision of care towards independence and prevention of complications; (2) perceived and (3) unknown caregiver needs; (4) caregivers' physical and emotional impairments; and (5) balancing limited time. An imbalance towards any one of these aspects may lead to reduced capability and performance of the family caregiver, with increased risk of complications for their relative. However, with balance, family caregivers embraced their role over time. Conclusions: These findings enhance understanding around the needs of family caregivers, which are optimally met when professionals and family caregivers work together with a collaborative approach over time. Patients and their families should be seen as equal partners. Family-focused care would enhance nursing practice in this context and this research can inform nursing training and educational programs.
Background: Since people with advanced dementia are usually not able to make complex decisions, it is usually the family caregivers, as proxies, who have to decide on treatments and their termination. However, these decisions are difficult for the caregivers to make, as they are often inadequately informed and cannot properly assess the consequences; moreover, they are concerned about harming the sick person. We aimed to first develop an informative booklet about palliative care issues for caregivers of people with advanced dementia. Secondly, we aimed to investigate a change in family caregivers' knowledge regarding palliative care issues and caregivers' involvement in medical and care decisions before and after studying this booklet. Methods: A first version of the booklet was drafted by an experienced psychiatrist and palliative care specialist based on existing booklets and guidelines; necessary cultural adaptions were taken into consideration. A nominal group process was conducted to develop the informative guide. In order to investigate the acceptance of the booklet and the possibility to implement it, 38 patient-caregiver dyads were recruited, and caregivers were interviewed both before receiving the booklet and after 3 months of receiving the booklet. Results: Experts from various disciplines collaborated on a German booklet for family caregivers of people with advanced dementia as an information aid regarding issues of palliative care. The subsequent test showed that all caregivers had experienced a personal benefit from the booklet. Caregivers had a significant gain of knowledge after provision of the booklet. A large proportion of caregivers who had not previously considered and/or discussed medical topics reported that they had done so within 3 months after obtaining the booklet, or planned to do so in the near future. Conclusions: The caregivers valued the comprehensible, concise and well-structured information guide on palliative care issues in advanced dementia. They agreed it increases knowledge and prompts decision making and therefore should be developed in many languages and disseminated among family caregivers of people with dementia. Trial registration: Clinicaltrial.gov, NCT03548142. Retrospectively registered 7 June 2018.
Objectives Supporting patients to die in the place of their choosing is an important aspect of end of life care. Our study set out to answer the question: 'How does the home environment influence perceptions of quality of death, and the experience of caring for the dying at home, for family carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs)? Methods A qualitative approach, using multiperspective interviews with bereaved family carers (n=15) and a nominated HCP (n=13) ensured depth of insight gained into supporting a home death. The semistructured interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using Framework. Results We found that the home environment enabled normality, a sense of control and individualised care which family carers often perceived as contributing towards a good death. However, the home environment created challenges for both family carers and HCPs, due to the differing and at times conflicting needs of the dying person and their family carers. Conclusions We have shed light on the complexity of balancing the demands and the satisfaction of caring for someone dying at home. The ability to manage these conflicting needs influenced whether carers perceived the home setting as the best place for the person to have received care in their last days of life.
BACKGROUND: Most people who are dying want to be cared for at home, but only half of them achieve this. The likelihood of a home death often depends on the availability of able and willing lay carers. When people who are dying are unable to take oral medication, injectable medication is used. When top-up medication is required, a health-care professional travels to the dying person's home, which may delay symptom relief. The administration of subcutaneous medication by lay carers, although not widespread UK practice, has proven to be key in achieving better symptom control for those dying at home in other countries. OBJECTIVES: To determine if carer administration of as-needed subcutaneous medication for common breakthrough symptoms in people dying at home is feasible and acceptable in the UK, and if it would be feasible to test this intervention in a future definitive randomised controlled trial. DESIGN: We conducted a two-arm, parallel-group, individually randomised, open pilot trial of the intervention versus usual care, with a 1 : 1 allocation ratio, using convergent mixed methods. SETTING: Home-based care without 24/7 paid care provision, in three UK sites. PARTICIPANTS: Participants were dyads of adult patients and carers: patients in the last weeks of their life who wished to die at home and lay carers who were willing to be trained to give subcutaneous medication. Strict risk assessment criteria needed to be met before approach, including known history of substance abuse or carer ability to be trained to competency. INTERVENTION: Intervention-group carers received training by local nurses using a manualised training package. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Quantitative data were collected at baseline and 6-8 weeks post bereavement and via carer diaries. Interviews with carers and health-care professionals explored attitudes to, experiences of and preferences for giving subcutaneous medication and experience of trial processes. The main outcomes of interest were feasibility, acceptability, recruitment rates, attrition and selection of the most appropriate outcome measures. RESULTS: In total, 40 out of 101 eligible dyads were recruited (39.6%), which met the feasibility criterion of recruiting > 30% of eligible dyads. The expected recruitment target (≈50 dyads) was not reached, as fewer than expected participants were identified. Although the overall retention rate was 55% (22/40), this was substantially unbalanced [30% (6/20) usual care and 80% (16/20) intervention]. The feasibility criterion of > 40% retention was, therefore, considered not met. A total of 12 carers (intervention, n = 10; usual care, n = 2) and 20 health-care professionals were interviewed. The intervention was considered acceptable, feasible and safe in the small study population. The context of the feasibility study was not ideal, as district nurses were seriously overstretched and unfamiliar with research methods. A disparity in readiness to consider the intervention was demonstrated between carers and health-care professionals. Findings showed that there were methodological and ethics issues pertaining to researching last days of life care. CONCLUSION: The success of a future definitive trial is uncertain because of equivocal results in the progression criteria, particularly poor recruitment overall and a low retention rate in the usual-care group. Future work regarding the intervention should include understanding the context of UK areas where this has been adopted, ascertaining wider public views and exploring health-care professional views on burden and risk in the NHS context. There should be consideration of the need for national policy and of the most appropriate quantitative outcome measures to use. This will help to ascertain if there are unanswered questions to be studied in a trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN11211024. FUNDING: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology A sessment; Vol. 24, No. 25. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information
As the ageing population grows globally, the need for informal care-usually provided by family and friends-will continue to increase. Numbers of people with dementia also continue to rise, and much of their care will be provided by relatives. As such, more people who may themselves be older, will take on such caring roles. Consequently, more carers are likely to have education and support needs. Amidst government recognition of the need to provide good quality, person-centred education and support to carers, there are tensions between the potential for such provision to be resource intensive and whether existing services have the capacity to meet the needs of carers. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a resource with scope to meet some of these educational and support needs. MOOCs enable flexible learning, are often free, and can be accessed anywhere in the world. Providing supportive dementia care requires carers to have an understanding of the condition, assistance to cope with the responsibilities of caring, and recognition of the importance of their own health and wellbeing as well as the person they support. In response to the needs of family carers of people with advancing dementia identified through a 5 year programme of research, we developed a MOOC-dementia care: living well as dementia progresses. This is an accessible source of relevant and engaging information; which enables carers to learn about advancing dementia, consider their own needs and create an interactive global forum of peer support.
Objectives: To examine factors that influence decision-making, preferences, and plans related to advance care planning (ACP) and end-of-life care among persons with dementia and their caregivers, and examine how these may differ by race. Design: Cross-sectional survey.Setting: 13 geographically dispersed Alzheimer's Disease Centers across the United States.Participants: 431 racially diverse caregivers of persons with dementia. Measurements: Survey on Care Planning for Individuals with Dementia. Results: The respondents were knowledgeable about dementia and hospice care, indicated the person with dementia would want comfort care at the end stage of illness, and reported high levels of both legal ACP (e.g., living will; 87%) and informal ACP discussions (79%) for the person with dementia. However, notable racial differences were present. Relative to white persons with dementia, African American persons with dementia were reported to have a lower preference for comfort care (81% vs. 58%) and lower rates of completion of legal ACP (89% vs. 73%). Racial differences in ACP and care preferences were also reflected in geographic differences. Additionally, African American study partners had a lower level of knowledge about dementia and reported a greater influence of religious/spiritual beliefs on the desired types of medical treatments. Notably, all respondents indicated that more information about the stages of dementia and end-of-life health care options would be helpful. Conclusions: Educational programs may be useful in reducing racial differences in attitudes towards ACP. These programs could focus on the clinical course of dementia and issues related to end-of-life care, including the importance of ACP.
The lives of healthy and sick people are structured according to a variety of conceptual matrices. One of these matrixes consists of philosophical, spiritual, and religious convictions, being this especially relevant in the process of the end of life. The objective of the study is to understand the meaning that individuals at the end of life and the relatives of such individuals award spiritual and/or religious beliefs through an examination of caregiver narratives. Multicentric study was developed that used a qualitative design and a phenomenological approach. The study was conducted in the autonomous community of Andalusia, specifically in the provinces of Almeria, Malaga, Seville, Granada, and Huelva. The selection method was purposive sampling. Caregivers who had lost a relative in a period between 2 months and 2 years previously and who were not in a process of pathological grieving were selected for inclusion in the study. The method involved five discussion groups and 41 in-depth interviews, with a total of 87 participants. A change of paradigms is necessary in which, among other elements, the focus of palliative care is centered on the ability to address these spiritual needs, and healthcare professionals are trained to assist in the provision of such care. Another important consideration is the inequality of spiritual supported provided by clergy from various religions. At least in the cultural context of the research, Catholic chaplains were the only institutional figures whose presence was assumed necessary by health organizations. However, the cultural and/or religious diversity in the autonomous community in which the study was conducted is increasingly broad and complex. It appears necessary to incorporate a variety of clergies in health units so that all patients may find support, whether in terms of companionship or celebration.
Background: Spiritual care is integral to palliative care. It engenders a sense of purpose, meaning, and connectedness to the sacred or important and may support caregiver well-being. Aim: To examine caregivers’ spirituality, religiosity, spiritual well-being, and views on spiritual/religious support. Design: A mixed-methods study across 4 Australian sites, recruiting caregivers of patients with a life expectancy of under 12 months. The anonymous semistructured questionnaire used included research team developed and adapted questions examining religion/spirituality’s role and support and views on hospitals supporting spiritual/religious requirements. It additionally included the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale (FACIT-Sp-12). Results: One hundred nine caregivers participated (47.4% responded). Median spiritual well-being was 30.5 on FACIT-Sp-12. Religious affiliation was associated with higher Faith subscores (P <.001). Spirituality was very important to 24.5%, religiosity to 28.2%, and unimportant to 31.4% and 35.9%, respectively. Caregivers prayed (P =.005) and meditated (P =.006) more following patients’ diagnoses, gaining comfort, guidance, and strength. Caregivers whose spiritual/religious needs were met to moderate/full extent by external religious/faith communities (23.8%) reported greater spiritual well-being (P <.001). Hospitals supported moderate/full caregiver spiritual needs in 19.3%. Pastoral care visits comforted 84.4% of those who received them (n = 32) but elicited discomfort in 15.6%. Caregivers also emphasized the importance of humane staff and organizational tone in supporting spiritual care. Conclusions: Hospital-based spiritual care providers should seek to identify those who seek pastoral or religiously orientated care. Genuine hospitality of showing concern for the other ensures the varied yet inevitably humanist requirements of the caregiver community are met.
The views of family carers who provide end of life care to people of advanced age are not commonly known. We conducted a bicultural study with bereaved New Zealand Maori (indigenous) and non-indigenous family carers who, on behalf of their older family member, reflected on the end of life circumstances and formal and informal care experienced by the older person. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 58 people (19 Maori and 39 non-Maori), who cared for 52 family members who died aged over 80 years. A Kaupapa Maori thematic analysis of family/whanau perspectives identified examples of good holistic care as well as barriers to good care. These are presented in a proposed Whare Tapa Wha Older Person's Palliative Care model. Good health care was regarded by participants as that which was profoundly relationship-oriented and upheld the older person's mana (authority, status, spiritual power) across four critical health domains: Whanau (social/family), Hinengaro (emotional/mental), Wairua (spiritual) and Tinana (physical) health domains. However, poor health care on one level impacted on all four domains affecting (reducing) mana (status). The "indigenous" model was applicable to both indigenous and non-indigenous experiences of end of life care for those in advanced age. Thus, Indigenous perspectives could potentially guide and inform end of life care for all.
Health care in aging societies increasingly demands that relatives, partners, or friends provide informal care for loved ones at their end of life. Yet, being an informal caregiver involves significant health threats caused by so-called caregiver burden. To cope with the broad spectrum of challenges, informal caregivers seek social support in the care relationship network emerging around a (future) patient. However, obtaining social support is not limited to offline contexts. Members of online communities also provide experiential knowledge and social support. To explore how informal caregivers seek and provide social support online and how this is interrelated with their care relationship networks, we conducted a qualitative content analysis of 75 threads about advance care planning from German online forums (2003-2017). Our findings show that informal caregivers rely on what we conclusively coined communicative care (i.e., informational and emotional support in burdensome care situations), often in response to impaired offline relationships within care relationship networks.
Death in America is changing from hospital to home, which demands complex skills by family caregivers. However, information from family members about the challenges of providing home hospice care until death is scant. To understand the challenges a family caregiver confronts when he/she decides to deliver hospice care and during the actual delivery of the hospice care, we used descriptive phenomenology methods to document the experience of 18 family caregivers as they delivered home hospice care. We learned the decision to begin home hospice was made by a physician, followed frequently by family resistance and refusal to assist. Family caregiver burden is enormous, compounded by fatigue, sleeplessness, and confusion on issues such as morphine dosage and administration. The stages and process of dying, such as transition, baffled family caregivers. All family caregivers agree financial and emotion support, empathic advocacy, and affirmation of their worth are needed to sustain them to care for the dying. The peacefulness following offering a home death comes at a high price to family caregivers. Evidence is needed from a randomized controlled trial as to effectiveness of advocacy support for family caregivers to increase their resiliency and higher probability of a good death for the dying.
Objective To identify the position of formal service providers in the networks of those providing end-of-life care in the home from the perspective of the informal network. Methods Using third-generation social network analysis, this study examined the nature and strength of relationships of informal caring networks with formal service providers through individual carer interviews, focus groups of caring networks and outer network interviews. Results Service providers were usually highly valued for providing services, equipment, pain management and personalised care for the dying person plus support and advice to the principal carer about both caring tasks and negotiating the health system. However, formal service providers were positioned as marginal in the caring network. Analysis of the relative density of relationships within networks showed that whereas relationships among family and friends had similar density, relationships between service providers and family or friends were significantly lower. Conclusion The results supported the Circles of Care model and mirror the perspective of formal service providers identified in previous research. The research raises questions about how formal and informal networks might be better integrated to increase their effectiveness for supporting in-home care.
Background: Informal caregivers of palliative patients show higher levels of depression and distress compared with the general population. Fegg’s (2013) existential behavioural therapy was shortened to two individual 1-h sessions (short-term existential behavioural therapy). Aim: Testing the effectiveness of sEBT on psychological symptoms of informal caregivers in comparison with active control. Design: Randomised controlled trial. Setting/participants: Informal caregivers of palliative in-patients. Methods: The primary outcome was depression; secondary outcomes were anxiety, subjective distress and minor mental disorders, positive and negative affect, satisfaction with life, quality of life and direct health care costs. General linear mixed models allow several measurements per participant and change over time. Reasons for declining the intervention were investigated by Rosenstock’s Health Belief Model. Results: Overall inclusion rate was 41.0%. Data of 157 caregivers were available (63.1% females; mean age: 54.6 years, standard deviation (SD): 14.1); 127 participants were included in the main analysis. Participation in sEBT or active control was not significantly associated with post-treatment depression. Outcomes showed prevailingly significant association with time of investigation. Self-efficacy, scepticism of benefit of the intervention, belief of better coping alone and support by family and friends were significant factors in declining participation in the randomised controlled trial. Conclusion: Inclusion rate was tripled compared with a previously evaluated longer EBT group intervention. By shortening the intervention, inclusion rate was traded for effectiveness and the intervention could not impact caregivers’ psychological state. Early integration of sEBT and combination of individual and group setting and further study of the optimal length for caregiver interventions are suggested.
Objective The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) was developed in the UK and has been shown to be effective to assess and address support needs of family carers of terminally ill patients at home. In German language, there is a lack of an evidence-based comprehensive assessment tool for family carers in palliative home care. The objectives of this study were to translate and develop a culturally adapted version of the CSNAT for a German-speaking context including the assessment of feasibility, face, and content validity. Method A translation and validation study was conducted in three steps: (1) translation of CSNAT following International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research criteria; (2) cognitive testing in five German-speaking regions in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with 15 family carers; and (3) pilot testing in palliative home care services. Evaluation was by telephone interviews with those involved in the assessments (family carers, health care professionals) and a focus group discussion with the health care professionals. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Results The regional idiomatic variety raised challenges in the process of translation. Cognitive testing revealed semantic, conceptual, syntactic, and idiomatic issues. During the pilot, 25 assessment conversations were held. Carers reported that the German version called KOMMA was brief, easy to understand and to complete, and helpful. They appreciated that the items adequately addressed their support needs and reminded them of their own strengths and resources. Health care professionals observed good acceptance by carers, the expression of unexpected patterns of needs, and extensive assessment conversations, but some raised concerns that the assessment process might shift attention to carers' needs at the cost of the patients. Significance of results A multi-step process of translation, cognitive testing, and pilot testing led to a culturally well-acceptable German tool (KOMMA). Comprehensibility, acceptance, face, and content validity, as well as feasibility were demonstrated.
Purpose: Many patients with advanced cancer choose palliative chemotherapy. Considering its purpose of palliation and not treatment, it is important to consider the life of family caregivers. Family caregivers who experience bereavement undergo extreme stress, which is particularly high among patients’ spouses. The present study aims to clarify the experiences of the spouses of patients at the hospitals in Japan after the notification of palliative chemotherapy discontinuation until bereavement. Method: We interviewed the spouses of 13 patients who received palliative chemotherapy using a semistructured interview guide. Each spouse was interviewed twice. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and key concepts were identified using a grounded theory analytic approach. Results: After the hospital's recommendation for palliative chemotherapy discontinuation, the spouses had “bewilderment over having to discontinue palliative chemotherapy” and experienced “difficulty in facing bereavement.” The spouses having “difficulty to give up hope for the patient's survival,” felt “bafflement over caregiving at the terminal stage,” which would be their responsibility in the future. Further, they had “hesitation in being honest to the patient” and were engaged in “knowing how to live with the patient until bereavement.“ Conclusion: Nurses need to encourage the patients and spouses to honestly express how they feel from the early stages of palliative chemotherapy. Furthermore, nurses should help spouses with how they face bereavement. This result may help prevent anticipatory grief, which may lead to excessive stress and emotional distress on the family caregivers.
Background: Informal caregiver support programs offered by hospice organizations support the health and wellbeing of clients and caregivers. However, an understanding of the best practices for informal caregiver support programs currently undertaken across Canada remains unknown, particularly across the province of British Columbia. Aim: The aim of the present study was to describe what existing resources and supports are provided by hospice organizations for informal caregivers of persons who are nearing end of life or who are recently bereaved in British Columbia, Canada. Methods: In this descriptive study, two thirds of hospice organizations (N = 42/66; 26 urban, 16 rural) participated in a semi-structured telephone interview focused on informal caregiver support programs. All interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed thematically and descriptive statistics were employed. Findings: While no one-size-fit-all caregiver support program emerged as a gold standard across all hospice organizations, nearly two thirds (n = 26/42) offered one or more informal caregiver support programs. Four categories of caregiver support programs emerged from the data analysis, including companioning, bereavement and grief supports, education and service supports, and respite for caregivers. Conclusion: Caregiver support programs are a valuable service provided by some but not all hospice organizations across British Columbia, Canada. Future studies are needed to determine best methods for hospice organizations to formally assess caregivers’ needs and to determine the success and effectiveness of such programs in support of program expansion and evaluation.
Background: Informal caregivers represent the foundation of the palliative care workforce and are the main providers of end of life care. Financial pressures are among the most serious concerns for many carers and the financial burden of end of life caregiving can be substantial. Methods: The aim of this critical debate paper was to review and critique some of the key evidence on the financial costs of informal caregiving and describe how these costs represent an equity issue in palliative care. Results: The financial costs of informal caregiving at the end of life can be significant and include carer time costs, out of pocket costs and employment related costs. Financial burden is associated with a range of negative outcomes for both patient and carer. Evidence suggests that the financial costs of caring are not distributed equitably. Sources of inequity are reflective of those influencing access to specialist palliative care and include diagnosis (cancer vs non-cancer), socio-economic status, gender, cultural and ethnic identity, and employment status. Effects of intersectionality and the cumulative effect of multiple risk factors are also a consideration. Conclusions: Various groups of informal end of life carers are systematically disadvantaged financially. Addressing these, and other, determinants of end of life care is central to a public health approach to palliative care that fully recognises the value of carers. Further research exploring these areas of inequity in more depth and gaining a more detailed understanding of what influences financial burden is required to take the next steps towards meeting this aspiration. We will address the conclusions and recommendations we have made in this paper through the work of our recently established European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) Taskforce on the financial costs of family caregiving.
Background: A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD) has a significant psychological impact on both the person diagnosed and their loved ones, and can have a negative effect on family relationships. Caring for someone with a long-term progressing illness may cause anticipatory grief, i.e., experienced before a bereavement. This has been widely studied in illnesses such as dementia and cancer, but less so in relation to PD. The study aims were: (I) to demonstrate the occurrence of anticipatory grief experienced by carers of people with PD; (II) to explore how this grief relates to caregiver burden and caregiver depression and demographic variables. Methods: Family carers of people with moderate to advanced PD (Hoehn & Yahr stages 3-5) were invited to complete a survey, including demographic questions and three questionnaires: Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI); 16-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS); and Anticipatory Grief Scale (AGS). Results: Anticipatory grief was common among carers of people with PD [mean AGS score =70.41; standard deviation (SD) =16.93; sample range, 38-102]. Though distinct concepts, carers with higher burden and depression scores also experienced more anticipatory grief symptoms. Carers experiencing higher anticipatory grief tended to be caring for someone of a younger age, displaying more non-motor symptoms, at a more advanced disease stage, and who considered either themselves and/or their loved one as depressed. Conclusions: Carers of people with advanced PD experienced anticipatory grief, as well as depression and a high caregiver burden. To improve carer outcomes, our focus should include the period both before and after the death of a loved one, and carers should receive regular psychological assessment and support.
Background: Despite being a terminal neurodegenerative disease, the role of palliative care is less recognised for motor neurone disease than for other life-limiting conditions. Understanding the experiences of, and need for, palliative care for patients and carers is key to configuring optimal policy and healthcare services. Aim: To explore the experiences of, and need for, palliative care of people with motor neurone disease and their informal carers across the disease trajectory. Design: A systematic review of qualitative research conducted using Thematic Synthesis – PROSPERO registration CRD42017075311. Data Sources: Four electronic databases were searched (MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Social Science Citation Index) using terms for motor neurone disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, palliative care, and qualitative research, from inception to November 2018. Included papers were data extracted and assessed for quality. Results: A total of 41 papers were included, representing the experiences of 358 people with motor neurone disease and 369 caregivers. Analytical themes were developed detailing patients’ and carers’ experiences of living with motor neurone disease and of palliative care through its trajectory including response to diagnosis, maintaining control, decision-making during deterioration, engaging with professionals, planning for end-of-life care, bereavement. Conclusion: The review identified a considerable literature exploring the care needs of people with motor neurone disease and their carers; however, descriptions of palliative care were associated with the last days of life. Across the disease trajectory, clear points were identified where palliative care input could enhance patient and carer experience of the disease, particularly at times of significant physical change.
Purpose: Many patients with advanced cancer receive primary supports from informal caregivers (IC). As patient health deteriorates, IC assume increasing responsibility, often accompanied by distress. We investigated the quality of life (QOL) of IC of patients referred to a palliative radiotherapy (PRT) program. Methods: IC accompanying patients to a dedicated PRT clinic completed a survey based on the validated Caregiver Quality of Life Index-Cancer (CQOLC). Demographics, burden, and engagement in support services were evaluated. Summary statistics were calculated, and parameters were assessed for association with CQOLC scores by a generalized linear model. Results: Two hundred one surveys were analyzed representing 197 unique patients. The mean age was 68.3 years, with predominantly lung (25.0%) and prostate (19.3%) malignancies. 24.4% had been in hospital/long-term care within the previous 7 days. IC were 60.8% female, and 60.6% were the patient’s spouse. 69.5% lived with the patient and 38.3% were additionally employed. IC spent a daily mean of 6.6 h (SD 7) assisting with instrumental (72.5%) and basic (37.5%) activities of daily living. Mean CQOLC score was 82.1/140 (SD 20). 63.8% of IC had previously accessed support service(s), most commonly home care (37.2%) and pharmacy (29.1%). 55.9% indicated interest in services not yet accessed. Multivariate analysis revealed additional employment, cohabitation, poor patient performance status, and interest in accessing more support services significantly correlated with higher IC burden. Conclusions: Employing the CQOLC to screen IC of patients referred to a PRT program permits early identification of vulnerable IC to facilitate linkage with appropriate supports.
BACKGROUND: Innovative service models to facilitate end-of-life care for older people may be required to enable and bolster networks of care. The aim of this study was to understand how and why a new charitably funded service model of end-of-life care impacts upon the lives of older people. METHODS: A multiple exploratory qualitative case study research strategy. Cases were three sites providing a new end-oflife service model for older people. The services were provided in community settings, primarily providing support in peoples own homes. Study participants included the older people receiving the end-of-life care service, their informal carers, staff providing care within the service and other stakeholders. Data collection included individual interviews with older people and informal carers at two time points, focus group interviews with staff and local stakeholders, nonparticipant observation of meetings, and a final cross-case deliberative panel discussion workshop. Framework analysis facilitated analysis within and across cases. RESULTS: Twenty-three service users and five informal carers participated in individual interviews across the cases. Two focus groups were held with an additional twelve participants, and 19 people attended the deliberative panel workshop. Important elements contributing to the experience and impacts of the service included organisation, where services felt they were 'outsiders,' the focus of the services and their flexible approach; and the impacts particularly in enriching relationships and improving mental health. CONCLUSION: These end-of-life care service models operated in a space between the healthcare system and the person's life world. This meant there could be ambiguity around their services, where they occupied a liminal, but important, space. These services are potentially important to older people, but should not be overly constrained or they may lose the very flexibility that enables them to have impact.
Importance: Family caregivers of persons with advanced heart failure perform numerous daily tasks to assist their relatives and are at high risk for distress and poor quality of life. Objective: To determine the effect of a nurse-led palliative care telehealth intervention (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heart Failure for Patients and Caregivers [ENABLE CHF-PC]) on quality of life and mood of family caregivers of persons with New York Heart Association Class III/IV heart failure over 16 weeks. Design, Setting, and Participants: This single-blind randomized clinical trial enrolled caregivers aged 18 years and older who self-identified as an unpaid close friend or family member who knew the patient well and who was involved with their day-to-day medical care. Participants were recruited from outpatient heart failure clinics at a large academic tertiary care medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center from August 2016 to October 2018. Intervention: Four weekly psychosocial and problem-solving support telephonic sessions lasting between 20 and 60 minutes facilitated by a trained nurse coach plus monthly follow-up for 48 weeks. The usual care group received no additional intervention. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were quality of life (measured using the Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale), mood (anxiety and/or depressive symptoms measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and burden (measured using the Montgomery-Borgatta Caregiver Burden scales) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (measured using the PROMIS Global Health instrument) and positive aspects of caregiving. Results: A total of 158 family caregivers were randomized, 82 to the intervention and 76 to usual care. The mean (SD) age was 57.9 (11.6) years, 135 (85.4%) were female, 82 (51.9%) were African American, and 103 (65.2%) were the patient's spouse or partner. At week 16, the mean (SE) Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale score was 66.9 (2.1) in the intervention group and 63.9 (1.7) in the usual care group; over 16 weeks, the mean (SE) Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale score improved 0.7 (1.7) points in the intervention group and 1.1 (1.6) points in the usual care group (difference, -0.4; 95% CI, -5.1 to 4.3; Cohen d = -0.03). At week 16, no relevant between-group differences were observed between the intervention and usual care groups for the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety measure (mean [SE] improvement from baseline, 0.3 [0.3] vs 0.4 [0.3]; difference, -0.1 [0.5]; d = -0.02) or depression measure (mean [SE] improvement from baseline, -0.2 [0.4] vs -0.3 [0.3]; difference, 0.1 [0.5]; d = 0.03). No between-group differences were observed in the Montgomery-Borgatta Caregiver Burden scales (d range, -0.18 to 0.0). Differences in secondary outcomes were also not significant (d range, -0.22 to 0.0). Conclusions and Relevance: This 2-site randomized clinical trial of a telehealth intervention for family caregivers of patients with advanced heart failure, more than half of whom were African American and most of whom were not distressed at baseline, did not demonstrate clinically better quality of life, mood, or burden compared with usual care over 16 weeks. Future interventions should target distressed caregivers and assess caregiver effects on patient outcomes. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02505425.
The study objective was to develop and test a new survey instrument that measures caregiver-centered communication. We developed a questionnaire inspired by the National Cancer Institute framework on patient-centered communication, focusing on family caregiver communication for this tool. The questionnaire includes 5 subscales: exchange of information, relationship with team, emotions, managing care, and decision-making. The initial questionnaire was reviewed by domain experts for face validity and edited further to include 30 items. We administered the modified questionnaire to 115 family caregivers of patients with serious illness in various settings. Cronbach α for the entire scale was 0.97 and ranged from 0.82 to 0.93 for the 5 subscales. Participants found that the survey addressed important concepts and that items were in most cases easy to understand. This instrument provides a structured way to assess caregiver-centered communication, addressing a pressing need for tools that measure the extent to which communication is responsive to the needs and preferences of family caregivers. Further testing and refinement are needed to improve the ease of use and examine the reliability and validity of this measure.
Caregiving and bereavement outcomes are strongly influenced by socio-cultural context. Past research has found higher levels of caregiver burden and psychological morbidity in Portuguese compared to Brazilian caregivers. This study compared Brazilian and Portuguese family caregivers in palliative care to identify differences in psychological morbidity and caregiver burden and their relationship with psychosocial factors such as sociodemographic variables, circumstances of end-of-life care and dying, social support, family functioning, and perception of quality of care. Prospective data were collected from convenience samples of family caregivers in Brazil (T0 n = 60; T1 n = 35) and Portugal (T0 n = 75; T1 n = 29) at two separate time points—during caregiving (T0), and during the first two months of bereavement (T1). The study samples consisted mostly of women, offspring, and spouses. In both countries, family caregivers devoted most of their day to taking care of their sick relatives and reported a lack of practical support. Portuguese caregivers had higher levels of burden than Brazilian caregivers, and in both populations a greater burden was associated with more psychopathological symptoms. Higher caregiver burden among Portuguese caregivers was associated with the circumstances of death and the perceived lack of emotional support. Among Portuguese caregivers, symptomatology persisted during bereavement, reaching significantly higher levels of anxiety, somatization, and peritraumatic symptoms compared to the Brazilian sample. These results show differences between family caregiver samples in Portugal and Brazil during the bereavement process. Understanding the underlying cultural patterns and mechanisms requires future research.
The end-of-life trajectory of cancer patients in palliative care (PC) elicits an anticipatory grief (AG) process in family caregivers (FCs). Although widely recognized, AG lacks conceptual clarification. This study aims to qualitatively explore the experience of FCs of patients with terminal cancer to identify the core characteristics and the specific adaptive challenges related to AG in the context of end-of-life caregiving. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted in a clinical sample of 26 FCs of cancer patients in PC. Findings from thematic analysis suggest that the AG experience is characterized by traumatic distress from being exposed to life-threatening conditions and the separation distress induced by loss anticipation and current relational losses, challenging the FCs to long-term emotional regulation effort demands. These results contribute to the conceptualization of AG and may inform intervention programs for the main challenges the FCs face when adjusting to loss during end-of-life caregiving.
The aging of the Taiwanese population has become a major issue. Previous research has focused on the burden and stress faced by caregivers, but has not explored how the experience of these caregivers influences decisions of advance care planning (ACP). Semi-structured and in-depth interviews were conducted. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify important themes. Five themes and fourteen sub-themes were identified: (1) Past experiences: patient wishes, professional recommendations, and expectation about disease progress; (2) Impact of care on family members: positive affirmation, open-minded life, social isolation and health effects, and financial and life planning effects; (3) Attitude toward life: not forcing to stay, and not becoming a burden, (4) Expected proxy dilemmas: torment between doing or not, seeing the extension of suffering and toil, and remorse and self-blame; (5) Expectation of end of life (EOL) care: caregiver’s experience and EOL care decisions, and practicality of EOL decision making. After making multiple medical decisions for their disabled relatives, caregivers are able to calmly face their own medical decisions, and “not becoming a burden” is their primary consideration. It’s suggested that implementation of shared decision-making on medical care for patients with chronic disability will not only improve the quality of their medical care but also reduce the development of remorse and guilty feelings of caregivers after making medical decisions.
The role of caregivers in homecare settings is relevant to the patient’s wellbeing and quality of life. This phenomenon is well described in the literature for the oncological setting but not specifically for that of hematological malignancies. The aim of this study was to explore the experience of primary caregivers of patients with hematological malignancies within home care. We conducted a phenomenological study based on interviews with 17 primary caregivers of hematological patients. Analysis of the contents led to the identification of five main themes. Perhaps, the innovative aspects of this study can be summarized in three points: This service was demonstrated to fulfil the ethical aspects of providing the patient with a dignified accompaniment to the end of life. Secondly, the efficiency of the service and the benefit are directly dependent on the caregivers’ wellbeing, so knowledge of the dynamics and emotions involved can lead to the development and implementation of programs for hematological malignancies. Lastly, a collaborative caregivers–professionals relationship can improve a sense of accomplishment for all parties involved, lessening the family’s frustration related to not having done their best. Home care brings significant benefits for both the patient and the caregivers and fulfils the ethical obligation of providing the patient dignified end-of-life care.
Background: Family caregivers of patients at the end of life often experience care-related burden. To prevent caregiver burden and to enhance the capacity to provide care it is important to have insight in their support needs. The purpose of this study was to identify profiles of family caregivers who provide care to patients at the end of life at home. Methods: A Q-methodological study was conducted in which family caregivers ranked 40 statements on support needs and experiences with caregiving. Thereafter they explained their ranking in an interview. By-person factor analysis was used to analyse the rankings and qualitative data was used to support the choice of profiles. A set of 41 family caregivers with a variety on background characteristics who currently or recently provided care for someone at the end of life at home were included. Results: Four distinct profiles were identified; profile (1) those who want appreciation and an assigned contact person; profile (2) was bipolar. The positive pole (2+) comprised those who have supportive relationships and the negative pole (2-) those who wish for supportive relationships; profile (3) those who want information and practical support, and profile (4) those who need time off. The profiles reflect different support needs and experiences with caregiving. Conclusions: Family caregivers of patients at the end of life have varying support needs and one size does not fit all. The profiles are relevant for healthcare professionals and volunteers in palliative care as they provide an overview of the main support needs among family caregivers of patients near the end of life. This knowledge could help healthcare professionals giving support.
Aim To evaluate the feasibility of a structured nurse‐led supportive intervention and its effects on family caregivers in end‐of‐life care at home.Background Family caregivers are crucial in end‐of‐life care. They may experience burden due to the responsibilities associated with caregiving. Some family caregivers feel insufficiently prepared for their caregiver role. Nurses have a unique position to provide supportive interventions at home to reduce caregivers’ burden and improve preparedness. However, few nurse‐led interventions are available to support family caregivers in end‐of‐life care at home. Design We will perform a cluster randomized controlled trial. The clusters consist of twelve home care services, randomly assigned to the intervention group or the control group. Methods The study population consists of family caregivers of patients in the last phase of life. In the intervention group, nurses will systematically assess the supportive needs of family caregivers, using an assessment tool and the method of clinical reasoning. Family members of the control group receive care as usual. Primary outcome is burden measured by the Self‐Rated Burden Scale. Secondary outcomes are preparedness for caregiving, caregiving reactions and acute (hospital) admissions of the patient. In addition, the feasibility of the intervention will be evaluated. The study was funded in October 2016 and was ethically approved in April 2019. Impact Findings from this study will contribute to the scientific and practical knowledge of nursing interventions to support family caregivers in end‐of‐life care. Trial registration The Netherlands Trial Register (NL7702)
Background The McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire - Expanded (MQOL-E) and the Quality of Life in Life-Threatening Illness-Family Carer/Caregiver version (QOLLTI-F) are developed for use with patients facing the end of life and their family carers, respectively. They are also developed for possible use as companion instruments. Contemporary measurement validity theory places emphasis on response processes, i.e. what people feel and think when responding to items. Response processes may be affected when measurement instruments are translated and adapted for use in different cultures. The aim of this study was to translate and examine content validity and response processes during completion of MQOL-E and QOLLTI-F version 2 (v2) among Swedish patients with life-threatening illness and their family carers. Methods The study was conducted in two stages (I) translation and adaptation (II) examination of content validity and response processes using cognitive interviews with 15 patients and 9 family carers. Participants were recruited from the hemodialysis unit, heart clinic, lung clinic and specialized palliative care of a Swedish county hospital. Patients had life-threatening illness such as advanced heart failure, advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, end-stage kidney disease or advanced cancer. Patients were outpatients, inpatients or receiving home care. Results Patients and family carers respectively believed that the items of the MQOL-E and QOLLTI-F v2 reflect relevant and important areas of their quality of life. Although some items needed more time for reflection, both instruments were considered easy to understand. Some changes were made to resolve issues of translation. Participants expressed that reflecting on their situation while answering questions was valuable and meaningful to them, and that responding was an opportunity to express feelings. Conclusions The results of response processes pertaining to the Swedish translations of both MQOL-E and QOLLTI-F v2 contribute evidence regarding content validity, linguistic equivalence and cultural appropriateness of the translated instruments. In addition, results show that the instruments may support conversations on matters of importance for quality of life between patients and/or family carers and health care professionals. Further research is needed to study the psychometric properties of Swedish translations.
Background Family caregivers of patients with severe illness and in need for a palliative care approach, face numerous challenges and report having insufficient preparedness for the caregiver role as well as a need for information and psychosocial support. Preparing to care for a severely ill family members also means becoming aware of death. Feelings of being prepared are associated with positive aspects and regarded protective against negative health consequences. Methods The study adheres to the SPIRIT-guidelines (Supplementary 1), uses a pre-post design and include a web-based intervention. Inclusion criteria are; being a family caregiver of a patient with severe illness and in need of a palliative care approach. The intervention which aims to increase preparedness for caregiving and death is grounded in theory, research and clinical experience. The topics cover: medical issues, symptoms and symptom relief; communication within the couple, how to spend the time before death, being a caregiver, planning for the moment of death and; considerations of the future. The intervention is presented through videos and informative texts. The website also holds an online peer-support discussion forum. Study aims are to: evaluate feasibility in terms of framework, content, usage and partners' experiences; explore how the use of the website, influences family caregivers' preparedness for caregiving and death; explore how the use of the website influences family caregivers' knowledge about medical issues, their communication with the patient and their considerations of the future; and to investigate how the family caregivers' preparedness for caregiving and death influences their physical and psychological health and quality of life 1 year after the patient's death. Data will be collected through qualitative interviews and a study-specific questionnaire at four time-points. Discussion This project will provide information about whether support via a website has the potential to increase preparedness for caregiving and death and thereby decrease negative health consequences for family caregivers of patients affected by severe illness. It will provide new knowledge about intervention development, delivery, and evaluation in a palliative care context. Identification of factors before death and their association with family caregivers' preparedness and long-term health may change future clinical work.
Background: Palliative care is in its infancy in most of the developing world. We set out to explore the lived experiences of families and caregivers of recently deceased cancer patients in Trinidad and Tobago and to determine the unmet needs of the patients and what recommendations could be derived to improve the current services. Methods: A phenomenological approach with purposeful sampling was used. Participants were referred by key health professionals. Face-to-face interviews were conducted. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, with analysis and data collection occurring concurrently. Thematic content analysis was used to determine common domains, themes and sub-themes. Results: Interviews were completed with 15 caregivers. All were spouses or children of the deceased. Ages of the deceased ranged from 43 to 93, the average being 65.5 years. The deceased experienced a variety of cancers including lung, colorectal and oesophageal. Unmet needs were identified under 4 domains of institutions, community, the family unit and the wider society. Institutional unmet needs were delayed diagnosis and treatment and poor inter-institution coordination. Medical and nursing care failed in the areas of health care providers' attitudes, pain management and communication. The family unit lacked physical and psychosocial support for the caregiver and financial aid for the family unit. Societal needs were for public education to address myths and cultural beliefs around cancer. Conclusion: There is need for systemic interventions to improve the care of those dying from cancer in Trinidad and Tobago. Stakeholders need to commit to palliative care as a public health priority, implementing education, planning services and mobilizing community resources.
Hmong Americans have typically been unwilling to use biomedical palliative care for end-of-life needs. This has resulted in confusion and frustration for Hmong patients, families, and nurses. Hmongs' end-of-life care choices for family members usually involve in-home caregiving provided by the family using a combination of biomedicine and traditional healing methods. Health care decisions are made for the patient by the family and community in this familistic culture. A qualitative approach was used to explore the beliefs that ultimately determine end-of-life care goals and strategies for Hmong patients. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 family caregivers of terminally ill patients and 5 shamans and Hmong funeral officiants. Several themes affecting care choices were identified, including cultural legacies of the responsibility of end-of-life caregiving by the family, the desire for family privacy in caregiving, and the role of community in the care for the dying, as well as completion of the rituals that ensure the soul of the deceased reaches the afterlife. Suggestions for improving communication between Hmongs and biomedical providers include providing information about end-of-life care beliefs and strategies to biomedical care providers and providing information to Hmong patients and families about hospice and palliative care options and services to support family care.
Aim and objectives: The aim of this study was to explore family caregivers’ experiences with palliative care for a close family member with severe dementia in long-term care facilities. Background: Dementia not only affects individuals but also affects and changes the lives of close family members. An increasing number of dementia-related deaths occur in long-term care facilities; therefore, it is critical to understand how healthcare professionals support and care for residents with dementia and their families at the end of life. Design: A qualitative design with a phenomenological approach was adopted. Methods: In-depth interviews were performed with 10 family caregivers of residents in 3 Norwegian long-term care facilities. Results: The family caregivers’ experiences with palliative care for a close family member with severe dementia in long-term care facilities were characterized by responsibility and guilt. Admission to a long-term care facility became a painful relief for the family caregivers due to their experiences with the poor quality of palliative care provided. The lack of meaningful activities and unsatisfactory pain relief enhanced the feelings of responsibility and guilt among the family caregivers. Despite the feelings of insecurity regarding the treatment and care given during the early phase of the stay, the family caregivers observed that their close family member received high-quality palliative care during the terminal phase. The family caregivers wanted to be involved in the care and treatment, but some felt that it became a heavy responsibility to participate in ethical decision-making concerning life-prolonging treatment. Conclusions: The family caregivers experienced ongoing responsibility for their close family members due to painful experiences with the poor quality of the palliative care provided. When their expectations regarding the quality of care were not met, the palliative care that was offered increased their feeling of guilt in an already high-pressure situation characterized by mistrust.
Objective: We aimed to clarify the content of different types of regrets or lack of regret, and the frequency of feeling regret among family caregivers who assisted their relatives during their end of life stage. Method: Seventy primary informal caregivers in Israel were interviewed (17 spouses, 52 children, and 1 cousin) concerning their regret about the end of life of their deceased relative, including a general question about regret and questions about regret concerning life-sustaining treatments. After calculating the frequency of regrets and lack of regret, we conducted a qualitative analysis, using a thematic approach to identify themes and interpret data. Results: A majority of caregivers (63%) expressed regret and about 20% expressed ambivalence involving both regret and denial of regret. Regrets pertained to care given, suffering experienced, and the caregiver's behavior towards, and relationship with the deceased, including missing opportunities to express love and caring toward relatives. Caregivers viewed almost 30% of 75 administered life-sustaining procedures as misguided. Most regrets involved inaction, such as not communicating sufficiently, or not fighting for better care. Conclusion: This article provides a comprehensive description of EoL regrets, and helps clarify the complexity of regrets, lack of regrets, and ambivalence concerning regrets, though the study is limited to one country. Analysis suggests the need for public education concerning the EoL process, and for changes within the health care system to improve communication, to improve understanding of the needs of the terminally ill, and to provide more instruction to family caregivers to help them understand EoL.
Purpose: Social support is an important factor in reducing caregiver burden, however, accessing social support via traditional means is often challenging for family caregivers of hospice patients. Online support groups may offer an effective solution. The present study sought to understand dynamics of online social support among family and other informal (e.g., friends) caregivers of hospice cancer patients in an online social support group. The primary aim of the study was to identify types of online social support and support-seeking behaviors, with a secondary aim to understand informal hospice caregivers’ preferences for social support. Method: Data used in this study were collected as part of a federally funded randomized clinical trial of an informal hospice cancer caregiver support intervention. Findings are based on directed and conventional content analysis of support group members' posts and comments—including text and images—and a sample of caregivers’ exit interviews. Results: Analyses demonstrated that the majority of online support provided by group members was emotional support, followed by companionship support, appraisal support, and informational support. Instrumental support was rarely provided. Support was primarily elicited in an indirect manner through self-disclosure and patient updates, with few overt requests for support. Conclusions: Findings suggest online social support groups can be a valuable resource for informal caregivers who are in need of emotional support and lack the ability to access face-to-face support groups. Clinical implications of this research to healthcare systems regarding the importance of incorporating nurses and other medical professionals as co-facilitators of online support groups are discussed.
Introduction: The End-of-Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia, challenges the misconception that people with dementia are a 'shell'; it provides a holistic approach using the five senses, which can provide positive ways of communicating and emotional responses. It is proposed Namaste Care can improve communication and the relationships families and friends have with the person with dementia. Previously used in care homes, this study is the first to explore the pioneering use of Namaste Care in people's own homes.; Objective: To develop initial programme theories detailing if, how and under which circumstances Namaste Care works when implemented at home.; Design: A qualitative realist approach following the RAMESES II guidelines was employed to understand not only whether Namaste Care has positive outcomes, but also how these are generated, for whom they happen and in which circumstances.; Setting: A hospice in the North East of England, operating in the community, through volunteers.; Participants: Programme theories were developed from three focus groups with volunteers implementing Namaste Care (n=8; n=8; n=11) and eight interviews with family carers (n=8).; Results: Four refined explanatory theories are presented: increasing engagement, respite for family carers, importance of matched volunteers and increasing social interaction. It was identified that while Namaste Care achieved some of the same goals in the home setting as it does in the care home setting, it could also function in a different way that promoted socialisation.; Conclusions: Namaste Care provides holistic and personalised care to people with both moderate and advanced dementia, improving engagement and reducing social isolation. In the present study carers often chose to use Namaste Care sessions as respite. This was often linked to their frustration of the unavoidable dominance of task-focussed care in daily life. Individualised Namaste Care activities thus led to positive outcomes for both those with dementia and their carers.
Background: Emotional distress often causes patients with cancer and their family caregivers (FCGs) to avoid end-of-life discussions and advance care planning (ACP), which may undermine quality of life (QoL). Most ACP interventions fail to address emotional barriers that impede timely ACP.; Aim: We assessed feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a mindfulness-based intervention to facilitate ACP for adults with advanced-stage cancer and their FCGs.; Design: A single-arm pilot was conducted to assess the impact of a 6-week group mindfulness intervention on ACP behaviors (patients only), QoL, family communication, avoidant coping, distress, and other outcomes from baseline (T1) to post-intervention (T2) and 1 month later (T3).; Participants: Eligible patients had advanced-stage solid malignancies, limited ACP engagement, and an FCG willing to participate. Thirteen dyads (N = 26 participants) enrolled at an academic cancer center in the United States.; Results: Of eligible patients, 59.1% enrolled. Attendance (70.8% across 6 sessions) and retention (84.6% for patients; 92.3% for FCGs) through T3 were acceptable. Over 90% of completers reported high intervention satisfaction. From T1 to T3, patient engagement more than doubled in each of 3 ACP behaviors assessed. Patients reported large significant decreases in distress at T2 and T3. Family caregivers reported large significant improvements in QoL and family communication at T2 and T3. Both patients and FCGs reported notable reductions in sleep disturbance and avoidant coping at T3.; Conclusions: The mindfulness intervention was feasible and acceptable and supported improvements in ACP and associated outcomes for patients and FCGs. A randomized trial of mindfulness training for ACP is warranted. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov with identifier NCT02367508 ( https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02367508 ).
Background: Mobile health (mHealth) provides a unique modality for improving access to and awareness of palliative care among patients, families, and caregivers from diverse backgrounds. Some mHealth palliative care apps exist, both commercially available and established by academic researchers. However, the elements of family support and family caregiving tools offered by these early apps is unknown.; Objective: The objective of this scoping review was to use social convoy theory to describe the inclusion and functionality of family, social relationships, and caregivers in palliative care mobile apps.; Methods: Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Review guidelines, a systematic search of palliative care mHealth included (1) research-based mobile apps identified from academic searches published between January 1, 2010, and March 31, 2019 and (2) commercially available apps for app stores in April 2019. Two reviewers independently assessed abstracts, app titles, and descriptions against the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Abstracted data covered app name, research team or developer, palliative care element, target audience, and features for family support and caregiving functionality as defined by social convoy theory.; Results: Overall, 10 articles describing 9 individual research-based apps and 22 commercially available apps were identified. Commercially available apps were most commonly designed for both patients and social convoys, whereas the majority of research apps were designed for patient use only.; Conclusions: Results suggest there is an emerging presence of apps for patients and social convoys receiving palliative care; however, there are many needs for developers and researchers to address in the future. Although palliative care mHealth is a growing field, additional research is needed for apps that embrace a team approach to information sharing, target family- and caregiver-specific issues, promote access to palliative care, and are comprehensive of palliative needs.
This study was designed to promote enhanced self-efficacy and decreased stress levels for family caregivers at a hospice care hospital, thus increasing their quality of life. This is achieved through group flower arranging sessions. The objectives are to (a) enhance self-efficacy scores for family caregivers of Calvary patients, (b) decrease stress levels for family caregivers of Calvary patients, and (c) disseminate results to other hospices. The results show that the flower arranging sessions resulted in significantly increased self-efficacy and decreased stress and associated problems for the caregiver participants. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
End-of-life care can be stressful for patients, caregivers, and providers. Caregivers often experience high levels of burden from caregiving duties such as performing medical tasks, communicating with providers, and making decisions. Similarly, many physicians feel unprepared to provide end-of-life care or communicate with patients and families about sensitive issues associated with death and dying. Physicians often attribute their lack of preparation to inadequate training in medical school. Previous research suggests that drama-based learning opportunities are valuable supplements to existing end-of-life curricula. The current study evaluates the success of the Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver Palliative Educational Program - a drama-based educational program that depicts patient and caregiver experiences. A total of 477 osteopathic medical students participated in the program, which includes viewing a play, engaging in a facilitated post-performance talkback session, and completing an evaluation survey. The results suggest the program is a valuable learning experience that is positively associated with important facets of experiential learning using narratives such as perceived realism, increased reflection, strong emotions, and increased comfort with difficult behaviors. The program offers a safe environment for medical students to identify, understand, and process the sensitive and complex issues associated with end-of-life care. Moreover, the play offers insight into the often-overlooked experiences of family caregivers who are at risk of experiencing high caregiver burden while managing health-related communication and decision-making.
Objective: This study investigated barriers to quality end-of-life (EOL) care in the context of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), one of the most common degenerative dementias in the United States.; Methods: The study consisted of telephone interviews with caregivers and family members of individuals who died with DLB in the last 5 years. Interviews used a semi-structured questionnaire. Investigators employed a qualitative descriptive approach to analyze interview transcripts and identify common barriers to quality EOL care.; Results: Thirty participants completed interviews. Reported barriers to quality EOL experiences in DLB pertained to the DLB diagnosis itself and factors relating to the US health-care system, facilities, hospice, and health-care providers (physicians and staff). Commonly reported barriers included lack of recognition and knowledge of DLB, lack of education regarding what to expect, poor coordination of care and communication across health-care teams and circumstances, and difficulty accessing health-care resources including skilled nursing facility placement and hospice.; Conclusion: Many identified themes were consistent with published barriers to quality EOL care in dementia. However, DLB-specific EOL considerations included diagnostic challenges, lack of knowledge regarding DLB and resultant prescribing errors, difficulty accessing resources due to behavioral changes in DLB, and waiting to meet Medicare dementia hospice guidelines. Improving EOL experiences in DLB will require a multifaceted approach, starting with improving DLB recognition and provider knowledge. More research is needed to improve recognition of EOL in DLB and factors that drive quality EOL experiences.
Objectives: Although the experiences of family members who care for relatives at the end of life have been researched extensively, little is known about the needs and experiences of families caring for hospice patients with pacemakers. Aim: To better understand the experiences of family caregivers of a terminally ill patient who received hospice care at home and chose deactivation of a pacemaker. Design: The exploratory, cross-sectional design involved semistructured, in-depth interviews. A narrative analysis focusing on form and content was chosen to analyze the data. Participants: Five bereaved caregivers from the Midwestern United States who provided care and participated in the deactivation of their family member’s pacemaker. Results: Four storylines that described, gave meaning to, and contextualized the caregivers’ experiences were identified: “I am done. I am not doing it anymore”; “Whatever you decide, I’ll support you”; “It is really difficult to watch, but you want to be there”; and “I will not have part of this.” Caregivers struggled with lack of support, understanding, and acceptance from medical providers when their family member decided to have her pacemaker deactivated, and they believed that the hospice model of care was appropriate to support and help them in that process. Conclusions: This research aids in understanding the ramifications of family-provided end-of-life care to a patient whose pacemaker has been deactivated. This can help to increase hospice clinicians’ knowledge regarding caregivers’ experiences facing deactivation of a pacemaker, before and after the patient’s death.
The purpose of this study is to determine family caregivers' recommendations for professional health care professionals on how to help prepare them for the death of an elder with dementia. Purposive criterion sampling was employed to identify 30 bereaved caregivers of family members aged 65 and older who died with a dementia-related diagnosis. In-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted over a 12-month period, and qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data. Three primary themes emerged: (a) Educate Caregivers, (b) Lead Caregivers, and (c) Provide a Caring and Compassionate Presence. The results highlight the importance of various health care professionals' roles in preparing family caregivers for a death. In doing so, both the dying and their caregivers may have a better end-of-life experience with improved bereavement outcomes.
Purpose Of Review: This mixed-method, rapid review of published research from 2014 to 2019 aims to explore the experiences of pre and postbereaved carers, and the information that they receive in the acute hospital setting. The quality of articles was evaluated using a standardized quality matrix. The techniques of conceptual analysis and idea mapping were used to create a structured synthesis of the findings.; Recent Findings: From the initial search of 432 articles, ten studies met the inclusion criteria for this review. These studies generated data from 42 patients, 1968 family/carers and 139 healthcare staff. Themes that were generated from a synthesis of the included articles were clear and timely communication, workforce provision and environment.; Summary: This review has highlighted the need for improvements in information provision for carers as part of end of life care. Furthermore, the need for specific staff education and training to enable staff to confidently communicate with dying patients and their relatives in the acute setting is also warranted. Understanding and addressing gaps in knowledge and practice are essential to develop strategies in this complex area. Simple strategies can be implemented to improve the care of carers both pre and post bereavement in acute care.
Objective: to describe the level of uncertainty in illness in family caregivers of palliative care patients and detect associations between the profile of the caregiver and the levels of uncertainty.; Method: descriptive correlational study conducted with 300 family caregivers of hospitalized patients. The sociodemographic characterization of caregiver and patient was used to assess the caregiver profile, as well as the Uncertainty in Illness scale for family caregivers. Spearman's Rho correlation test was applied to detect associations.; Results: the average score of illness uncertainty was 91.7 points. The analysis showed significant correlations between the level of uncertainty and patient dependence (r=0.18, p=0.001), symptom assessment (r=0.312, p<0.001), length of service as a caregiver (r=0.131, p=0.023), perception of support from health professionals (r=-0.16, p=0.048), family (r=-0.145, p=0.012) and religious support (r=-0.131, p=0.050).; Conclusions: there were high levels of uncertainty in caregivers about their patient's illness. These levels are associated with the health condition and symptoms of the patient who is cared for, the length of service as a caregiver and the perceived support from health professionals, family and religion.
Context: Family satisfaction with care is an important quality indicator in palliative care.; Objectives: This study aimed to translate and validate the 10-item Family Satisfaction with End-of-Life Care (FAMCARE) tool.; Methods: Family caregivers of patients with advanced cancer were recruited. FAMCARE was translated from English to Chinese using a forward and backward translation process. Chinese-speaking caregivers were interviewed with the preliminary Chinese FAMCARE, and phrasing was edited to ensure clarity of the items. Subsequently, a baseline and follow-up survey in English and the finalized Chinese version were performed to assess psychometric properties. Cronbach's alpha (α) and intraclass correlation coefficient were used for internal consistency and test-retest reliability, respectively. Validity was assessed with Spearman's correlation coefficient (r). The Comprehensive Needs Assessment Tool-Caregiver (CNAT-C) and a one-item assessment by caregivers regarding "good-care" acted as a validity criterion. Pooled analysis of both languages and language-specific analyses were performed.; Results: There were 259 participants; 134 and 125 participants filled in the English and Chinese versions, respectively. Pooled analysis showed that the intraclass correlation coefficient of FAMCARE was 0.95; α was 0.91. There was a moderate positive correlation between the total FAMCARE scores and "good-care" (r = 0.54) and a moderate negative correlation between the total FAMCARE score and the CNAT-C "Healthcare Staff" domain (r = 0.41). There was a weak negative correlation between the total FAMCARE score and the CNAT-C domain of "family and social support" (r = -0.13). Language-specific analyses revealed similar results regarding FAMCARE's psychometric properties.; Conclusion: FAMCARE showed good reliability and validity.
Background: Studies have shown that initiating early palliative care of patients with end-stage cancer can improve their quality of life and decrease symptoms of depression. The challenge is to find an effective way to care for these patients while minimizing the burden on healthcare resources. Telemedicine can play a vital role in solving this problem.; Methods: A user-friendly telemedical device enabling patients encountering medical problems to send a direct request to a palliative care team was developed. A controlled feasibility study was conducted by assigning 15 patients with advanced cancer and their family caregivers to receive either standard palliative care or telemedically augmented palliative care. Th quality of life (QoL) was assessed using standardized validated questionnaires as well as frequency and duration of hospital admissions and user satisfaction. The primary goal of this study was to increase the QoL of patients and their family caregivers. The secondary goal of this study was to decrease the frequency and duration of hospital admissions.; Results: This study showed a good feasibility despite the low overall willingness to participate in a relatively "technical" trial. The hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS) was significantly lower in the intervention group, suggesting an improved quality of life. Although a decrease in the number of hospital admissions could not be shown, the user satisfaction was very good.; Conclusion: Telemedicine could be a useful tool to enhance the general well-being of palliative oncology patients. Now that the feasibility of this approach has been confirmed, larger studies are needed to verify its positive impact on the QoL.
Background: This study prospectively evaluated distress, depressive and anxiety symptoms as well as associated factors in family caregivers (FC) of advanced cancer patients at initiation of specialist inpatient palliative care.; Methods: Within 72 h after the patient's first admission, FCs were asked to complete German versions of the Distress Thermometer, Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7), Patient Health Questionnaire depression module 9-item scale (PHQ-9) for outcome measure. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to identify associated factors.; Results: In 232 FCs (62% spouses/partners), mean level of distress was 7.9 (SD 1.8; range, 2-10) with 95% presenting clinically relevant distress levels. Most frequent problems were sadness (91%), sorrows (90%), anxiety (78%), exhaustion (77%) and sleep disturbances (73%). Prevalence rates of moderate to severe anxiety and depressive symptoms were 47 and 39%, respectively. Only 25% of FCs had used at least one source of support previously. In multivariate regression analysis, being female (OR 2.525), spouse/partner (OR 2.714), exhaustion (OR 10.267), and worse palliative care outcome ratings (OR 1.084) increased the likelihood for moderate to severe anxiety symptom levels. Being female (OR 3.302), low socio-economic status (OR 6.772), prior patient care other than home-based care (OR 0.399), exhaustion (OR 3.068), sleep disturbances (OR 4.183), and worse palliative care outcome ratings (OR 1.100) were associated with moderate to severe depressive symptom levels.; Conclusions: FCs of patients presenting with indication for specialist palliative care suffer from high distress and relevant depressive and anxiety symptoms, indicating the high need of psychological support not only for patients, but also their FCs. Several socio-demographic and care-related risk-factors influence mental burden of FCs and should be in professional caregivers' focus in daily clinical practice.
Objective: To investigate prevalence and predictors of postloss distress, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and quality of life among bereaved family caregivers of patients with advanced cancer.; Methods: Prospective multicenter study. Family caregivers (N = 160, mean age 56.8 years, 66% female) completed validated outcome measures (Distress Thermometer, Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale, Patient Health Questionnaire depression module 9-item scale, SF-8 Health Survey Questionnaire) 6 months after patient's discharge or death at specialist inpatient palliative care ward.; Results: Clinically relevant distress was observed in 82% with sadness (89%), exhaustion (74%), sleeping problems (68%), loneliness (53%), and sorrows (52%) being the most common distress-causing problems. Moderate/severe anxiety and depressive symptoms were observed in 27% and 35%, respectively. Compared to an adjusted norm sample, quality of life was significantly impaired with exception of "bodily pain" and physical component score. Preloss caregiving (odds ratio [OR] 2.195) and higher preloss distress (OR 1.345) predicted high postloss distress. Utilization of psychosocial support services (OR 2.936) and higher preloss anxiety symptoms (OR 1.292) predicted moderate/severe anxiety symptoms, lower preloss physical quality of life (OR 0.952), and higher preloss depressive symptoms (OR 1.115) predicted moderate/severe depressive symptoms.; Conclusion: Preloss mental burden showed to be a consistent predictor for postloss burden and should be addressed during palliative care. Future research should examine specific caregiver-directed interventions during specialist palliative care.
Background: This study examines communication profiles and associated attitudes toward health care professionals in interviews with family caregivers of hospitalized patients with confirmed multidrug-resistant organisms (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or multiresistant gram-negative bacteria) diagnosis at the end of life. Objectives: This study aims to replicate and complement findings from a previous investigation using a different methodological framework. The benefits of linguistic research in medical contexts are highlighted. Design: Fifty interviews with family caregivers were analyzed linguistically. The considered parameters include lexical choices such as evaluative wording, metaphors, and specialized terminology, as well as higher level categories—turn-taking, sentence-length, and personal deixis. These characteristics serve to assess attitudes toward medical staff, hygiene measures, knowledge, and its transfer and general emotional states. Conclusions: Linguistic expertise adds benefits to the classical analysis of language data as used in social sciences. Family caregivers' linguistic and attitudinal profiles vary depending on whether their involvement in the overall situation is active or passive, and whether their relationship toward staff and hospital is cooperative or confrontative. Depending on the four possible combinations of those characteristics, different recommendations for communication strategies on the staff's side can be given. In all cases, clear and patient/family centeredness are considered beneficial.
Background: The significance of advance care planning in dementia is widely acknowledged. Despite the suggestion that younger people with dementia and their family might have distinct needs and preferences in this area, studies on advance care planning in young-onset dementia are absent. Aim: We aim to explore (1) whether family caregivers had already engaged in advance care planning with patients and/ or professionals and the accompanying reasons and (2) family caregivers' preferences for how to ideally engage in the process with patients, family and professionals. Design: A qualitative study was conducted: we analysed semi-structured interviews (n = 15) through the method of constant comparative analysis. Setting/participants: We included Flemish family caregivers of persons with young-onset dementia. Results: Plans for the future typically concerned non-medical affairs. Participants' limited engagement in advance care planning was clarified through several reasons: not considering it useful, hindering patient behaviour, adopting a day-to-day attitude, caregivers emotionally protecting themselves and uncertainty about patients' cognitive competence. However, endorsement for advance care planning showed from respondents' preferences that it should be initiated timely, by a third party, and emphasize patients' remaining capacities. Finally, the need for information and high-quality care emerged. Conclusion: A gap of knowledge, of information and in care intertwiningly hinder advance care planning. In young-onset dementia, engaging in advance care planning is not an option equally accessible as not doing so. Policy makers, institutions and professionals could reflect on their responsibility in providing these patients and caregivers an actual choice to engage in advance care planning or not.
Objective: The road to legalization of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) across Canada has largely focused on legislative details such as eligibility and establishment of regulatory clinical practice standards. Details on how to implement high-quality, person-centered MAID programs at the institutional level are lacking. This study seeks to understand what improvement opportunities exist in the delivery of the MAID process from the family caregiver perspective.; Method: This multi-methods study design used structured surveys, focus groups, and unstructured e-mail/phone conversations to gather experiential feedback from family caregivers of patients who underwent MAID between July 2016 and June 2017 at a large academic hospital in Toronto, Canada. Data were combined and a qualitative, descriptive approach used to derive themes within family perspectives.; Result: Improvement themes identified through the narrative data (48% response rate) were grouped in two categories: operational and experiential aspects of MAID. Operational themes included: process clarity, scheduling challenges and the 10-day period of reflection. Experiential themes included clinician objection/judgment, patient and family privacy, and bereavement resources.; Significance Of Results: To our knowledge, this is the first time that family caregivers' perspectives on the quality of the MAID process have been explored. Although practice standards have been made available to ensure all legislated components of the MAID process are completed, detailed guidance for how to best implement patient and family centered MAID programs at the institutional level remain limited. This study provides guidance for ways in which we can enhance the quality of MAID from the perspective of family caregivers.
Background: Earlier end‐of‐life communication is critical for people with heart failure given the uncertainty and high‐risk of mortality in illness. Despite this, end‐of‐life communication is uncommon in heart failure. Left unaddressed, lack of end‐of‐life discussions can lead to discordant care at the end of life. Objective: This study explores patients' and caregivers' understanding of illness, experiences of uncertainty, and perceptions of end‐of‐life discussions in advanced illness. Design: Interpretive descriptive qualitative study of older adults with heart failure and family caregivers. Fourteen semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 19 participants in Ontario, Canada. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and content analysis was used to analyse the data. Main results: Understanding of illness was shaped by participants' illness‐related experiences (e.g. symptoms, hospitalizations and self‐care routines) and the ability to adapt to challenges of illness. Participants were knowledgeable of heart failure management, and yet, were limited in their understanding of the consequences of illness. Participants adapted to the challenges of illness which appeared to influence their perception of overall health. Uncertainty reflected participants' inability to connect manifestations of heart failure as part of the progression of illness towards the end of life. Most participants had not engaged in prior end‐of‐life discussions. Conclusion: Detailed knowledge of heart failure management does not necessarily translate to an understanding of the consequences of illness. The ability to adapt to illness‐related challenges may delay older adults and family caregivers from engaging in end‐of‐life discussions. Future research is needed to examine the impact of addressing the consequences of illness in facilitating earlier end‐of‐life communication.
The term user involvement is frequently applied in research. Frameworks for patient and informal caregiver participation as coresearchers in studies concerning patients with life-threatening illness are however sparse. The PhD project Dying With Dignity-Dignity-Preserving Care for Older Women Living at Home With Incurable Cancer has implemented a thorough cooperation with patients and informal caregivers from the early stages of the research process. A framework for Patient and Informal Caregiver Participation In Research (PAICPAIR) is suggested-creating a stronger foundation for democracy, equality, and research quality by also promoting active participation among vulnerable people experiencing incurable, life-threatening illness, as coresearchers.
Objective: To explore factors that influenced engagement in an online support group (OSG) for family caregivers of hospice patients with cancer. Design: Secondary qualitative data analysis. Sample: 58 family caregivers of hospice patients with advanced cancer. Methods: Template analysis of individual family caregiver interviews. Findings: Emotional isolation and caregiving downtime positively influenced engagement, while reluctance to share personal information, a short timeframe of participation in the OSG, and caregiving commitments were negatively influential. While the group facilitation and secure privacy settings of the OSG were viewed positively, reactions to the OSG platform and group tone were mixed. Information on pain and the dying process was found to be particularly engaging. Practice implications: Providers offering OSGs for family caregivers should maximize factors that promote meaningful member engagement, responding to changes in activity and tone over time.
Background: Addressing the concerns of family members is an important aspect of palliative and end-of-life care. One aspect that commonly causes family caregivers concern is the decline of patients' oral fluid intake in the last few days of life. Aim: To map the narratives in which family members' experiences of witnessing the diminishing drinking of a dying relative have been researched, review the findings within each narrative and consider directions for future research. Design: An adapted meta-narrative review approach. Data Sources: The Cumulative Index of Nursing and Applied Health Literature, Medline, PsycINFO, Psycharticles and Scopus databases were searched for relevant research published between January 1982 and December 2017. Quality was assessed using the Quality Assessment and Review Instrument. Results: A total of 22 papers met the inclusion criteria. No study focused specifically on the experiences of family members when witnessing the diminishing drinking of dying relatives. However, research about diminishing drinking was identified within studies broadly focusing on cancer cachexia, clinical decision-making about hydration and/or nutrition and support in a hospice context. The research indicates that family members' experiences of diminishing drinking vary with their views about the significance of drinking, dying well and their expectations of themselves and healthcare professionals. Conclusion: While some understanding of the topic can be inferred from research in related areas, there is a paucity of information specifically about family members' experiences when witnessing the diminishing drinking of a dying relative.
Purpose: This study aimed to clarify the experiences of caregivers desiring to refuse life-prolonging treatment for their elderly parents at the end of life. Methods: A semi-structured interview was performed for four family caregivers who wanted to refuse life-prolonging treatment suggested by the physicians. Results: In this study, four caregivers who refused life-prolonging treatment suggested by the physicians for their elderly parents completed semi-structured interviews. The obtained data were analyzed in relation to the theme "Experiences of caregivers who desire to refuse life-prolonging treatment for their elderly parents at the end of life." As a result, 38 subcategories and 12 categories were extracted. Conclusions: Participants in this study initially had a negative view of life-prolonging treatment. However, they agonized over the decision when they received conflicting advice from the physicians. The participants indicated that physicians' advice and attitudes complicated their decisions to reject life-prolonging treatment for their elderly parents.
Objectives: Latino-advanced cancer patients engage in advance care planning (ACP) at lower rates than non-Latino patients. The goal of the present study was to understand patients' and caregivers' preferred methods of communicating about ACP.; Methods: Patients and caregivers were interviewed about cultural, religious, and familial beliefs that influence engagement in ACP and preferences for ACP communication.; Results: Findings highlighted that Latino patients respect doctors' medical advice, prefer the involvement of family members in ACP discussions with doctors, hold optimistic religious beliefs (e.g., belief in miracles) that hinder ACP discussions, and prefer culturally competent approaches, such as using their native language, for learning how to discuss end-of-life (EoL) care preferences.; Significance Of Results: Key cultural, religious, and familial beliefs and dynamics influence Latino engagement in ACP. Patients prefer a family-centered, physician informed approach to discussing ACP with consideration and incorporation of their religious medical beliefs about EoL care. Promising targets for improving the communication of and engagement in ACP include integrating cultural and religious beliefs in ACP discussions, providing information about ACP from the physician, involving family members in ACP discussions and decision-making, and giving instructions on how to engage in ACP discussions.
Introduction: Family caregiver-provider communication is essential to making an effective hospice care transition for patients. Despite the importance of this topic, there is little information about how caregivers in rural US-Mexico border regions navigate hospice care transition and their needs. This study explores the family caregivers' experience relating to their end-of-life (EOL) communication and needs for hospice care transition.; Methods: In-depth interviews using qualitative methods were conducted with 28 informal caregivers of patients who are enrolled in home hospice care in a rural US-Mexico border region. Thematic analysis was applied to analyze the data.; Results: Qualitative themes that emerged include (1) lack of/insufficient EOL communication and (2) informational needs, including (a) signs of symptom changes, (b) EOL treatment options and goals of care, and (c) hospice care and its benefits. Limited caregiver-provider EOL communication was observed, in which the majority of the caregivers (n = 22, 78.6%) were informed of the patient's terminal condition, but only half (n = 15, 53.6%) had a discussion with the providers about hospice care.; Conclusion: Timely EOL communication between caregivers and the providers is key to the patient's optimal transition to hospice care. Providers need to be aware of the caregivers' informational needs relating to patient symptoms and health condition as well as hospice care. It is important to be aware of the impact of cultural values on hospice care placement. A clear explanation about the purpose and functions of hospice care and its benefit can better guide the family caregivers in making hospice care decisions.
Background: We sought to evaluate the effect of an integrated prospective payment program (IPP) on knowledge of hospice care and willingness to participate in hospice care among family members of patients on prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV).; Methods: Between November 2013 and April 2014, we used paper-based survey questionnaires from 64 institutions to evaluate knowledge, willingness, and related factors among the main caregivers of patients on PMV regarding hospice care and to determine whether their decisions for the patients were affected by the IPP.; Results: The average ages of the respondents and patients on PMV were 51.9 y and 70.8 y respectively; 70.6% of the respondents knew about the Hospice Palliative Care Act (HPCA), and 42.3% of the medical staff had introduced hospice care-related information to patients and caregivers in Taiwan. Among the caregiver respondents, 67.6% agreed to write a letter of intent regarding the choice of hospice care or limited life-sustaining treatment. In total, 66.2% (16.1 + 50.1%) of the respondents agreed to hospice care for their family members (ie, the patients on PMV) when the condition was terminal. The factors of greater HPCA knowledge among the patients on PMV were IPP participation, female sex, and coma status. Factors leading to higher levels of HPCA knowledge included age ≥ 65 y being married, higher income, awareness of the law, and being introduced to hospice care by medical staff.; Conclusions: High levels of hospice care knowledge were unrelated to willingness to participate. HPCA knowledge was greater in the IPP group than in the non-IPP group; however, there was no significant difference in the willingness to agree to hospice care. It is recommended that individuals be encouraged to express their medical decisions.
Background: Determining the effect of caregiving and bereavement remains a challenge. To date, no study has employed a comparison group to investigate caregivers' grief, quality of life and general health in relation to non-caregivers.; Aim: We aimed to determine how caregivers' grief, quality of life and general health changed following death compared to non-caregivers and whether pre-death grief predicted these outcomes.; Design: A prospective, longitudinal study of family caregivers and a comparison group matched for age, gender and postcode was conducted. All participants completed questionnaires at four points - once pre-death and three times post-death (3-4 months, 6-7 months and 9-10 months).; Setting/participants: Participants (N = 70) were family caregivers of persons receiving palliative care, mostly for cancer, recruited from three palliative care providers in Western Australia and matched comparisons recruited from advertisements.; Results: There were significant differences between the caregivers' and comparisons' grief, general health and quality of life at pre-death, 3-4 months and 6-7 months post-death, but not at 9-10 months post-death. The rate of progression in these constructs following death was independent from the intensity of pre-death grief. However, caregiver prolonged grief score significantly predicted prolonged grief score at 6-7 and 9-10 months post-death.; Conclusion: It took 9-10 months for the caregivers' grief, general health and quality of life to correspond to the comparison group. These findings present an opportunity for palliative care research and practice to consider how best to support the majority of caregivers without grief complications so that their pre- and post-death support needs are realised.
Background: Internationally there is an increasing concern about the quality of end-of-life care (EoLC) provided in acute hospitals. More people are cared for at end of life and die in acute hospitals than in any other healthcare setting. This paper reports the views of bereaved relatives on the experience of care they and the person that died received during their last admission in two university adult acute tertiary hospitals. Methods: Relatives of patients who died were invited to participate in a post-bereavement postal survey. An adapted version of VOICES (Views of Informal Carers - Evaluation of Services) questionnaire was used. VOICES MaJam has 36 closed questions and four open-ended questions. Data were gathered in three waves and analysed using SPSS and NVivo. 356 respondents completed the survey (46% response rate). Results: The majority of respondents (87%: n = 303) rated the quality of care as outstanding, excellent or good during the last admission to hospital. The quality of care by nurses, doctors and other staff was highly rated. Overall, care needs were well met; however, findings identified areas of care which could be improved, including communication and the provision of emotional and spiritual support. In addition, relatives strongly endorsed the provision of EoLC in single occupancy rooms, the availability of family rooms on acute hospital wards and the provision of bereavement support. Conclusions: This research provides a powerful snapshot in time into what works well and what could be improved in EoLC in acute hospitals. Findings are reported under several themes, including the overall quality of care, meeting care needs, communication, the hospital environment and support for relatives. Results indicate that improvements can be made that build on existing good practice that will enhance the experience of care for dying persons and their relatives. The study adds insights in relation to relative's priorities for EoLC in acute hospitals and can advance care providers', policy makers' and educationalists' priorities for service improvement.
Aim: This study aimed to develop a “family caregiver needs-assessment scale for end-of-life care for senility at home” (FADE) and examine its reliability and validity. Method: A draft item pool was developed based on a literature review, and simplified to 30 items in four domains. Next, the item pool was reviewed by four visiting nurses and four researchers and refined to 15 items. A cross-sectional study was then conducted using a self-reported questionnaire. Questionnaires were sent to 2703 visiting nurses. The survey questions included participants’ basic demographic information, the importance of each item according to a modified scale, basic demographics for cases of death by senility at home, satisfaction with each item of the modified scale in an example case, and assessment of the case using the Japanese version of the Support Team Assessment Schedule (STAS-J). Internal consistency was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha. Construct validity was confirmed using confirmatory factor analysis, and correlation between the new scale and the STAS-J was used to assess criterion-related validity. Results: In total, 461 visiting nurses provided valid responses. The exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified 12 items from two factors: “Needs for adaptation to senility bereavement” and “Needs for essential skills in supporting a dignified death by senility.” The final model showed appropriate index values: standardized root mean residual = 0.057, Tucker–Lewis index = 0.920, Akaike information criterion = 191.6, and Bayesian information criterion = 298.2. Cronbach’s alpha for the entire scale was 0.908, and was above 0.840 for each factor. The correlation coefficient between STAS-J and the entire scale was 0.259–0.427 (p<0.001). Conclusions: The FADE scale showed acceptable internal consistency and concurrent validity. The scale can help clarify issues and desires that present themselves at home related to adaptation to senility bereavement and essential skills in supporting a dignified death by senility. Addressing these issues and desires is expected to reduce caregivers’ anxiety and burden, and means the older adults under their care may be respected and enabled to live with dignity and peace.
Care provided by family is the backbone of palliative care in Canada. The critical roles performed by caregivers can at the same time be intensely meaningful and intensely stressful. However, experiences of caregiving can be enhanced when caregivers feel they are making informed and reflective decisions about the options available to them. With this in mind, the purpose of this five-phase research project was to create a Family Caregiver Decision Guide (FCDG). The Guide entails four steps: thinking about the current caregiving situation, imagining how the caregiving situation may change, exploring available options, and considering best options if caregiving needs change. The FCDG was based on available evidence and was developed and refined using focus groups, cognitive interviewing, and a feasibility and acceptability study. Finally, an interactive version of the Guide was created for online use ( https://www.caregiverdecisionguide.ca ). In this article, we describe the development, evaluation, and utility of the FCDG.
Background: Although family caregivers play an important role in end-of-life care decisions, few studies have examined the communication between family caregivers and patients at the end of life. Objective: The objective was to describe family caregivers' attitudes toward death, hospice, and truth disclosure. Research design: A quantitative method was used, and a closed-ended survey of 140 family caregivers was conducted in China. The subjects included 140 primary family caregivers of elders with terminal cancer enrolled at a hospice center from April to August 2017. Participants: 140 primary family caregivers of elders with terminal cancer participated the study. Research Context: A high proportion of cancer patients continue to receive inadequate information about their illness. Family caregivers' inhibitions about disclosing information to cancer patients have not yet been the objects of research in China. Ethical considerations: This study was reported to and approved by the Regional Ethics Committee in Shenzhen, China. Findings: A questionnaire survey collected information on family caregivers' background information, emotional state, personal needs, death attitudes, and truth-disclosure opinions. The results revealed that family caregivers' death attitudes and truth-disclosure opinions played an important role in the process of caring for elders with terminal cancer. Discussion: By adopting a quantitative method, the author revealed not only the general patterns of family caregivers' attitudes toward cancer diagnosis disclosure but also the reasons for their actions and the practices of family disclosure. Conclusion: The findings suggested that ineffective communication concerning end-of-life issues resulted from family caregivers' lack of discussion and difficulty in hearing the news. Future studies should examine strategies for optimal communication between family caregivers and patients, especially with regard to breaking the bad news. Professional training in breaking bad news is important and is associated with self-reported truth-disclosure practices among family caregivers.
Background: Keeping people living with advanced dementia in their usual place of residence is becoming a key governmental goal but to achieve this, family carers and health care professionals must negotiate how to provide optimal care. Previously, we reported a realist analysis of the health care professional perspective. Here, we report on family carer perspectives. We aimed to understand the similarities and differences between the two perspectives, gain insights into how the interdependent roles of family carers and HCPs can be optimised, and make recommendations for policy and practice. Method: Qualitative study using a realist approach in which we used the criteria from guidance on optimal palliative care in advanced dementia to examine key contexts, mechanisms and outcomes highlighted by family carers. Results: The themes and views of family caregivers resonate with those of health care professionals. Their overlapping anxieties related to business-driven care homes, uncertainty of families when making EOL decisions and the importance of symptom management referring to contexts, mechanisms and outcomes, respectively. Contexts specific to family carers were ad hoc information about services, dementia progression and access to funding. Not all family carers identified dementia as terminal, but many recognised the importance of continuity of care and knowing the wishes of the person with dementia. New mechanisms included specific resources for improving EOL care and barriers to discussing and planning for future care. Family carers identified the importance of comfort, being present, the meeting of basic care needs and feeling the right decisions have been made as good outcomes of care. Conclusions: Family carers and health care professionals share similar concerns about the challenges to good EOL dementia care. Better understanding of the effects of dementia at the advanced stages would improve confidence in EOL care and reduce uncertainty in decision making for family carers and health care professionals.
Background: Family caregivers of people at the end of life can face significant financial burden. While appropriate financial support can reduce the burden for family caregivers, little is known about the range and adequacy of financial support, welfare and benefits for family caregivers across countries with similarly developed health care systems. Aim: The aim is to identify and compare sources of financial support for family caregivers of people approaching the end of life, across six countries with similarly performing health care systems (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States). Design: A survey of financial support, welfare and benefits for end of life family caregivers was completed by 99 palliative care experts from the six countries. Grey literature searches and academic database searches were also conducted. Comparative analyses of all data sources documented financial support within and between each country. Results: Some form of financial support for family caregivers is available in all six countries; however the type, extent and reach of support vary. Financial support is administered by multiple agencies, eligibility criteria for receiving support are numerous and complex, and there is considerable inequity in the provision of support. Conclusion: Numerous barriers exist to the receipt of financial support, welfare and benefits. We identified several areas of concern, including a lack of clarity around eligibility, inconsistent implementation, complexity in process and limited support for working carers. Nonetheless, there is significant potential for policymakers to learn from other countries' experiences, particularly with regard to the scope and operationalisation of financial support.
This article introduces a cartography tool to help social workers work with and support family caregivers. This tool aims to determine (1) which caregivers are likely to need additional support during bereavement and (2) what resources the caregiver has that care teams can rely on for decision-making and planning. The purpose of this article is to present a preliminary assessment of the cartography based on the feedback collected from potential users regarding the tool’s content and usage.
Purpose: This study aims to investigate the impact of possible predictors of quality of life (QoL) in a group of Italian caregivers assisting a cancer patient in home palliative care.; Methods: Data from 570 adult informal caregivers and their cancer-affected relatives were collected. A multivariate regression analysis was conducted to assess the effect of three groups of variables on Caregivers Quality of Life Index-Cancer (CQOLC) scale: (a) socio-demographic characteristics of caregivers; (b) psychological characteristics of caregivers assessed by Profile Mood of States (POMS), Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI), and Preparedness for Caregiving Scale (PCS); (c) Socio-demographic characteristics and functional status of the patients assessed by Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), Activities of Daily Living (ADL), and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).; Results: Regression analysis shows that some variables from each of these clusters are significantly associated with CQOLC, in particular: (a) the gender of the caregiver (st.β = .115, t = 2.765, p = .006) and the time spent for caregiving (st.β = - .165, t = - 3.960, p < .001); (b) the scores obtained by the caregivers in POMS,CBI (st.β = - .523, t = - 16.984, p < .001 and st.β = - .373, t = - 12.950, p < .001, respectively) and PCS (st.β = .092, t = 3.672, p < .001); (c) the gender (st.β = - .081, t = - 1.933, p = .045) and the IADL score (st.β = .195, t = 4.643, p < .001) of the patient.; Conclusions: A multidimensional evaluation is a key strategy to identify the most vulnerable caregivers. Apart from the condition of the patient, the gender of the caregivers, the time spent for caregiving and, above all, their psychological condition are strong predictors of caregivers' QoL.
With cancer increasing in prevalence and high priorities placed on concurrent oncological and palliative care to help meet the familial, spiritual, and individual needs of stakeholders in cancer, research is needed that assesses the factors that facilitate coping across stakeholders in cancer care. We were interested in synthesizing our understanding of communication and relationships among patients, caregivers, and providers based on the reasoning that illness is relational, but often conceptualized and researched from the individual perspectives of various stakeholders. The current study examined the experiences of relational and communication opportunities and challenges during cancer for current and former family caregivers, cancer survivors, and palliative and oncology health care practitioners. The thematic analysis of 30 semi-structured interviews revealed an overarching theme on the benefits of orienting toward cancer as communal, which was, in turn, facilitated or impeded by four additional themes/sets of behaviors: support, presence, perspective-taking, and reframing hope. Results of a cross-case data matrix analysis reveal that stakeholders in different roles experience qualitative differences in their experience of cancer as communal, isolated, or ambivalent. Implications for education, palliative care, and interventions are discussed.
Purpose/background: Accumulating evidence shows that bereaved family caregivers report elevated distress for an extended period, which compromises their quality of life. A first step in the development of programs to enhance bereaved caregivers' quality of life should be determining the needs they experience to manage the loss, and the needs that are not being satisfied. Thus, this study aimed to develop a new measure to assess unmet needs among bereaved family caregivers.; Method: The 20-item Needs Assessment of Family Caregivers-Bereaved to Cancer measure was developed and validated with bereaved cancer caregivers 5 (n = 159) and 8 (n = 194) years after the initial cancer diagnosis of the index patient, when stress in providing care to the patient was assessed.; Results: Exploratory factor analysis yielded two primary factors: unmet needs for reintegration and unmet needs for managing the loss. Bereaved caregivers who were younger and ethnic minority, and who had greater earlier perceived stress of caregiving, reported their needs were more poorly met (t > 2.33, p < .05). The extent to which bereaved caregivers' needs to manage the loss were not perceived as being met was a consistent and strong predictor of poor adjustment to bereavement at both 5- and 8-year marks (t > 1.96, p < .05), beyond the effects of a host of demographic and earlier caregiving characteristics.; Conclusion: Findings support the validity of the Needs Assessment of Family Caregivers-Bereaved to Cancer and suggest that interventions to help bereaved caregivers manage the loss by assisting their transition to re-engagement in daily and social activities will benefit caregivers by mitigating bereavement-related distress years after the loss.
Background: Family caregivers carry heavy end-of-life (EOL) caregiving burdens, with their physical and psychological well-being threatened from caregiving to bereavement. However, caregiving burden has rarely been examined as a risk factor for bereavement adjustment to disentangle the wear-and-tear vs relief models of bereavement. Objective/Methods Preloss and postloss variables associated with severe depressive symptoms and quality of life (QOL) for 201 terminally ill cancer patients' caregivers over their first 2 years of bereavement were simultaneously evaluated using multivariate hierarchical linear modeling. Severe depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale score > 16) and QOL (physical and mental component summaries of the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey) were measured 1, 3, 6, 13, 18, and 24 months postloss. Results: Caregivers' likelihood of severe depressive symptoms and mental health-related QOL improved significantly from the second year and throughout the first 2 years of bereavement, respectively, whereas physical health-related QOL remained steady over time. Higher subjective caregiving burden and postloss concurrent greater social support and better QOL were associated with bereaved caregivers' lower likelihood of severe depressive symptoms. Bereaved caregivers' mental health-related QOL was facilitated and impeded by concurrent greater perceived social support and severe depressive symptoms, respectively. Conclusion: Severe depressive symptoms and mental health-related QOL improved substantially, whereas physical health-related QOL remained steady over the first 2 years of bereavement for cancer patients' caregivers. Timely referrals to adequate bereavement services should be promoted for at-risk bereaved caregivers, thus addressing their support needs and facilitating their bereavement adjustment.
Advance care planning for people with dementia has become a focus of dementia care policies in developed countries. In New Zealand, the framework for dementia care relies on the person with dementia having a level of competence to enable them to participate in the planning process. For people with dementia, it may be too late to initiate these discussions in terms of decision-making capacity. Consequently, decisions about end-of-life care for people with dementia are typically made by a family member who acts as a surrogate decision maker on behalf of the person with dementia. An exploratory qualitative study of 23 people who had been carers or provided support for a family member with dementia who had died within five years of the interview was undertaken. The overarching theme, 'ordinary everyday conversations', describes how informal conversations and discussions within the family relating to preferences at the end of life had been embedded in interactions within the families over years. Sub-themes revealed three important components enabling adherence to the prior wishes of the person with dementia through these conversations: knowing the person and belief in 'doing the right thing'; the importance of Wills and Enduring Power of Attorney; and negotiating unexpected encounters. There is potential for families to be well prepared for the time when they may need to make decisions for the person with dementia based on ordinary everyday conversation that take place within families and throughout life. This study also suggests that more innovative approaches to making a Will may provide an important vehicle for expressing advanced care wishes.
Background Established in 2013 this network of volunteer family carers is a national advocacy group that presents a vital opportunity for carers to use their voice to raise awareness of issues affecting families living with dementia in Ireland. The network is facilitated by a dementia specific service provider. These carer advocates wish to present on a piece of qualitative research they have recently conducted on the topic of carer resilience at the advanced stages of caring for a loved one with dementia. Methods There are 43 family carer advocates on the network, all of whom were invited to participate in this research. The piece of qualitative research conducted by the network with its members took the form of a questionnaire. The research sought to ascertain how informed and supported carers felt as their loved ones transitioned to long term residential care and the stage thereafter. This research did not discuss the level of professional care given to their loved one but what supports and services were offered to the carer at that time and how this affected their resilience. The aspect of caring for a loved one availing of hospice care naturally emerged during the research process and this topic was also explored in relation to carer resilience. Completed questionnaires were analysed to show findings and draw conclusions. Results The research gives insight into the lived experience of carer resilience told by carer advocates. The results show that carer advocates feel ill-informed and badly supported as their loved one transitions to or resided in long term residential care. The research also showed that carers feel more informed and supported if their loved one availed of hospice care rather than long term residential care. Conclusion Carers are not properly informed or supported when their loved one transitions to or resides in long term residential care and this negatively affects their resilience.
Background The Family Carer Decision Support (FCDS) intervention has been designed to inform family carers about end of life care options available to a person living with advanced dementia. The FCDS intervention demonstrated a statistically significant impact in reducing family carer decision uncertainty on establishing goals of care at the end of life and, improved family carer satisfaction on quality of care in a study conducted in the United Kingdom. Methods The aim of this research is to adapt the application of the FCDS for use in different countries. Funding supported through the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) project has supported the scaling up of the FCDS transnationally in the United Kingdom; Republic of Ireland; Netherlands; Canada; Czech Republic ; and, Italy. Launched in April 2019, this presentation will report on present activities including: a) description of the FCDS intervention; b) strategy for implementing the FCDS in care homes; c) study design employed for the evaluation of the FCDS; and d) work packages and that will be deployed to achieve intended outcomes Results Expected project outcomes of this work will include a) develop guidelines to facilitate transnational use of the FCDS within care homes; (b) staff education material including web learning resources; (c) family carer informational material including web learning resources; (d) measures and tools to evaluate the uptake and outcome of the FCDS intervention; (e) establish a transnational FCDS community of practice across study care homes; (f) estimated costs of providing the FCDS intervention; (g) evidence of enhancing decision making among family members regarding resident care and satisfaction with care. Conclusion Recent research revealed that care home structures and staff play an important role in the successful implementation and adoption of innovations such as the FCDS intervention, this is further examined in this transnational study.
Context The short-term impact of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) following bereavement is well documented. The longer term sequelae of PGD however are poorly understood, possibly unrecognized, and may be incorrectly attributed to other mental health disorders and hence undertreated. Objectives The aims of this study were to prospectively evaluate the prevalence of PGD three years post bereavement and to examine the predictors of long-term PGD in a population-based cohort of bereaved cancer caregivers. Methods A cohort of primary family caregivers of patients admitted to one of three palliative care services in Melbourne, Australia, participated in the study (n = 301). Sociodemographic, mental health, and bereavement-related data were collected from the caregiver upon the patient's admission to palliative care (T1). Further data addressing circumstances around the death and psychological health were collected at six (T2, n = 167), 13 (T3, n = 143), and 37 months (T4, n = 85) after bereavement. Results At T4, 5% and 14% of bereaved caregivers met criteria for PGD and subthreshold PGD, respectively. Applying the total PGD score at T4, linear regression analysis found preloss anticipatory grief measured at T1 and self-reported coping measured at T2 were highly statistically significant predictors (both p < 0.0001) of PGD in the longer term. Conclusion For almost 20% of caregivers, the symptoms of PGD appear to persist at least three years post bereavement. These findings support the importance of screening caregivers upon the patient's admission to palliative care and at six months after bereavement to ascertain their current mental health. Ideally, caregivers at risk of developing PGD can be identified and treated before PGD becomes entrenched.
Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Ideal management plan in MND includes palliative care initiated from the time of diagnosis. At present, most of the neurodegenerative conditions are cared for at home. Neuropalliative care is an emerging concept in India and social workers are integral team members in this process. The primary aims of the study were to explore (a) the caregivers' experiences of the end-of-life stage, and (b) the sources of support for individuals and their caregivers with MND at the end-of-life stage. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven bereaved caregivers of individuals with MND from a national tertiary referral care center for neuropsychiatry in South India. Interviews were conducted either in person or by telephone. Thematic analysis was done using the constant comparative method. Major themes derived from the interviews were: (1) Transition from person to patient, (2) support, (3) death, and (4) impact on the caregivers. Mapping of themes identified Support received during advanced stages as the central theme influencing all other themes. The need for a care manager seems evident and is a role that can be effectively fulfilled by the care teams' social workers.
Aim To explore how family caregivers experience involvement in palliative care. Design A qualitative design with a narrative approach was used. Methods Purposive sampling and narrative interviews were conducted. Eleven bereaved family caregivers for patients with cancer receiving palliative care were interviewed in Mid‐Norway between November 2016–May 2017. Results We identified four themes related to family caregivers' experiences of involvement in the early, middle, terminal and bereavement phases of palliative care: (a) limited involvement in the early phase; (b) emphasis on patient‐centred care in the middle phase; (c) lack of preparation for the dying phase; and (d) lack of systematic follow‐up after death. Family caregivers experienced low level of involvement throughout the palliative pathway. Conclusion The involvement of family caregivers in palliative care may not be proportional to their responsibilities. The needs of family caregivers should be addressed in nursing education to give nurses competence to support family caregivers in providing home‐based care.
In Palliative Care, the unit of care is the patient and their family. Although members of the health care team often address the family caregiver's opinions and concerns, the focus of care remains on the needs of the patient. The readiness and willingness of the family caregiver is often overlooked as they are expected to assume a complex caregiving role. When family caregivers are not intellectually or emotionally prepared or physically capable, the caregiver is at high risk for serious health issues and cognitive, emotional, and physical decline particularly as caregiving extends over time. Family caregivers are often a neglected and at-risk population. Illustrated through the use of a case study, this article addresses the complex role of family caregivers, as both health team members and second-order patients. It emphasizes the importance of family assessment and interventions to balance the burdens and benefits of family caregiving and protect caregivers' health and well-being.
To the editor,
We read with interest, the recent article titled, “Informal caregiver quality of life in a palliative oncology population” by Duimering et al. , in which the authors concluded that identification of factors relating to lower quality of life (QOL) for informal caregivers, including additional employment, cohabitation with the patient, poor patient performance status, and expressing the wish to provide more assistance, should actuate the healthcare team to identify the vulnerable informal caregivers.
Objective Many family caregivers and hospice patients experience role changes resulting from advancing illness and the need for increased caregiver responsibility. Successful navigation of conflicts that arise because of these role transitions has been linked to higher quality of patient care and improved caregiver bereavement adjustment. Nursing communication with patients and their caregivers plays an important role in facilitating these transitions. Our objective is to describe patient-caregiver-nurse communication during transitions at end of life. Method A secondary, qualitative analysis was conducted on transcripts. Using an iterative process of constant comparison, coders inductively categorized nurse, caregiver, and patient communication behavior into overarching themes. Participants were home hospice nurses and cancer patient/spouse caregiver dyads; participants were >45 years of age, English speaking, and cognitively able to participate. Research took place in the home during nurse visits. Result Nineteen unique home hospice visits were analyzed. Patient-caregiver conflict occurred in two major content themes (1) negotiating transitions in patient independence and (2) navigating caregiver/patient emotions (e.g., frustration, sadness). Nurse responses to transition conflict included problem-solving, mediating, or facilitating discussions about conflicts. Nurse responses to emotional conflict included validation and reassurance. Significance of results Our findings provide insight into the topics and processes involved in patient and caregiver transitions in home hospice and the role hospice nursing communication plays in mediating potential conflict. Nurses are often asked to take on the role of mediator, often with little conflict resolution communication education; results can be used for nursing education.
This editorial comments on the article: Demiris, G., Oliver, D.P., Washington, K. and Pike, K. (2019), A Problem‐Solving Intervention for Hospice Family Caregivers: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Am Geriatr Soc, 67: 1345-1352. doi:10.1111/jgs.15894
Hospice researchers Demiris, Parker Oliver, Washington, and Pike should be commended for their recent successful clinical trial evaluating the Problem‐Solving Intervention to Support Caregivers in End‐of‐Life Care Settings (PISCES) intervention, published in this issue of JAGS.8 The 4‐year study fills a substantial gap in the knowledge base by conducting a rigorous randomized trial within the challenging hospice care environment to demonstrate the efficacy of a brief, pragmatic problem‐solving intervention to support informal caregivers.
Background: End-of-life care for older people with dementia is often sub-optimal. Understanding the experiences of the relatives involved in the care of the person with dementia may help to improve care practice. Aims: To investigate relatives' experiences with end-of-life care for people with dementia, comparing the nursing home and home setting. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 32 individuals who were bereaved of someone with dementia. Thematic analysis was performed to identify main themes from the data. Findings: Experiences translated into four themes: acknowledging human dignity; being recognised as an important caregiver; (not) talking about death and dying and making decisions together. A lack of person-centered care was mainly evident in nursing homes. Relatives took on a more prominent role in the care of the older person with dementia when the relative was cared for in a home setting and this involvement in the care of the older person was something that the relatives valued. Surrogate decision-making induced similar challenges in both settings. Conclusion: It is important that healthcare professionals inform and support relatives to help them make decision about end-of-life care and preferences. Nursing homes should learn to offer the same standard of person-centred care as a home care setting, and ensure that relatives are still involved in the care of the person with dementia.
Context: Family caregivers play a vital role in managing the pain of hospice patients with cancer; however, caregivers' knowledge of pain management principles and experiences as pain managers vary widely. Differences in cultural values and access to resources suggest that rural and urban hospice family caregivers may differ with regard to their pain knowledge and experience, but this has not been empirically investigated. Objectives: We sought to determine if rural and urban hospice family caregivers differed in terms of their knowledge of cancer pain management principles and their experiences managing cancer pain. Methods: Our study consisted of a secondary analysis of baseline, cross-sectional data from hospice family caregivers (N = 196) participating in an ongoing cluster randomized crossover pragmatic trial. We performed multivariable regression to model associations between caregivers' demographic characteristics and their scores on the Family Pain Questionnaire (FPQ), which included subscales measuring pain knowledge and experience. Results: When controlling for other demographic variables, rural caregivers' scores on the FPQ knowledge subscale were worse (P = 0.01) than their urban counterparts. FPQ experience subscale scores and FPQ total scores were not statistically significantly different between the two groups. Conclusion: Rural hospice family caregivers report greater pain knowledge deficits than urban hospice family caregivers, although the two groups report comparable pain management experiences. Additional research is needed to better explain observed differences.
Objectives The Bereavement Risk Assessment Tool (BRAT) seems to be useful in identifying those who are likely to suffer from the more severe consequences of bereavement. To date, however, only a few studies have examined bereavement risk using the BRAT. This study investigated bereavement risk in family caregivers of patients with cancer using the Japanese version of the Bereavement Risk Assessment Tool (BRAT-J). We also investigated the relationship of bereavement risk with psychological distress and resilience among caregivers to determine the validity of the BRAT-J. Methods We conducted family psychoeducation in the palliative care unit of Tohoku University Hospital with participants who were recruited in this study. Among the participants, 50 family caregivers provided their written informed consent and were included in this study. Participants were assessed using the BRAT-J and completed the Japanese version of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) and the Tachikawa Resilience Scale (TRS). Results According to the BRAT-J, five individuals (10%) were in the high category of bereavement risk (level 4 or 5). We also found that family caregivers of patients experienced many different pressures, such as facing the unknown; their own work; and insufficient financial, practical, or physical resources. These issues are associated with various mental problems. Additionally, the level of bereavement risk was significantly correlated with K6 scores (ρ = 0.30, p = 0.032), and the TRS score (ρ = –0.44, p = 0.001). These correlations confirmed previous findings and that the BRAT-J can be an efficient screening tool for the bereavement risk of family caregivers of patients with cancer. Significance of results It appears that the BRAT-J is useful in predicting the likelihood of difficulties or complications in bereavement for family caregivers and could help to provide support with these issues when needed.
The purpose of this study was to obtain a deeper understanding of the experiences of family caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients in Shenzhen, Southern China. This study sought to describe how being the main caregiver influences family caregivers’ daily lives. This article reports on the findings from individual interviews with 20 family caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients. The interview transcripts were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis, which revealed that caring for a cancer patient over the course of his or her illness significantly affected many aspects of family caregivers’ lives. Three major themes were identified in their experiences: (1) challenges, (2) personal growth, and (3) social support. In exploring these themes, this article offers insights into family caregivers’ experiences in Southern China, particularly among family members of terminally ill cancer patients and presents implications for future professional practice, especially oncology social work.
Background: Older people in Thailand receive general medical and social care at the end of life, and many rarely access palliative services. In light of this, improving the quality of care for the ageing population relies on addressing the needs of family caregivers, who provide the majority of care in a home setting. Understanding caregivers' perspectives when caring for a friend or relative will help to improve the quality of care that they provide. Aim: To explore caregivers' perspectives on improving care for older people in Thailand in the palliative stage. Methods: A qualitative study using in-depth interviews and observation of 10 older people in the palliative stage and their caregivers was undertaken. Data were analysed using content analysis. Findings: Data analysis revealed three themes: caregivers cared to repay the older person's previous kindness, caregivers cared and changed their caregiving behaviour to minimise the older person's perception of being abandoned or being a burden, and to follow Thai ancestral traditions, so that the older person could die peacefully. Conclusion: This study provides specific instructions for those who provide care for older Thai people in the palliative stage. Finding ways to address caregivers' perspectives on improving care quality could enhance the experience of care recipients.
Patients with serious illness and their family caregivers face numerous ongoing psychological and social concerns and stressors throughout the disease trajectory. Common challenges relate to the need to manage the disease by making complex and often difficult medical decisions. In addition, the presence of psychological and psychiatric distress, including depression and anxiety, may significantly add to the overall symptom burden for the patient and family caregivers. These challenges negatively impact mood, cognitive function, interpersonal relationships, and medical decision making. If not recognized and adequately addressed, they can seriously undermine coping and resilience, eroding psychological well-being and quality of life.
Background: Many people receiving palliative care wish to die at home. Often, support from family or friends is key to ensuring that this wish is fulfilled. However, carers report feeling underprepared to undertake this role. This paper describes the process of developing a consensus and evidence based website to provide core information to help people support someone receiving palliative care on the island of Ireland. Methods: The project comprised three phases: (1) a review of systematic reviews facilitated the identification of core information needs; (2) content was developed in collaboration with a Virtual Reference Group (VRG) comprising patients, carers and professionals; and, (3) subject experts within the project team worked with a web developer to précis the agreed content and ensure it was in a format that was appropriate for a website. Members of the VRG were then invited to test and approve the website before it was made available to the general public. Results: Nineteen systematic reviews identified nine consensus areas of core information required by carers; a description of palliative care; prognosis and treatment of the condition; medication and pain management; personal care; specialist equipment; locally available support services; what to do in an emergency; nutrition; and, support for the carer. This information was shared with the VRG and used to develop website content. Conclusions: We engaged with service users and professionals to develop an evidence-based website addressing the agreed core information needs of non-professional carers who wish to provide palliative care to a friend or relative.
Background: Contemporary health policies call for consumers to be part of all aspects of service planning, implementation, delivery and evaluation. The extent to which consumers are part of the systemic decision-making levels of palliative care appears to vary between and within services and organisations. Aim: The aim of this systematic review is to develop understandings about consumer and carer leadership in palliative care. Design: A systematic, narrative synthesis approach was adopted due to the heterogeneity of included studies. The review was registered on PROSPERO prospectively (PROSPERO 2018 CRD42018111625). Data sources: PubMed, Scopus and PsycINFO were searched for all studies published in English specifically focusing on consumers’ leadership in palliative care organisations and systems. Articles were appraised for quality using a modified JBI-QARI tool. Results: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria and quality assessment. Consumers are currently involved in leadership of palliative care teaching, research and services. Findings highlight the benefits of consumer leadership in palliative care including more relevant, higher-quality services, teaching and research. Across the included studies, it was not clear the extent to which consumer leaders had influence in relation to setting agendas across the palliative care sector. Conclusion: The findings suggest that more could be done to support consumer leadership within palliative care. Academics and clinicians might improve the relevance of their work if they are able to more meaningfully partner with consumers in systemic roles in palliative care.
Background: Crises that occur in home hospice care affect family caregivers' satisfaction with care and increase risk of disenrollment. Because hospice care focuses on achieving a peaceful death, understanding the prevalence and nature of crises that occur in this setting could help to improve end-of-life outcomes. Objective: To ascertain the prevalence and nature of, as well as factors associated with crises in the home hospice setting as reported by family caregivers. Design: A multiple-method approach was used. Content analysis was employed to evaluate semistructured interview responses collected from caregivers. Potential associations between crisis occurrence and caregiver and patient factors were examined. Setting/Subjects: Family caregivers whose care recipients were discharged (dead or alive) from a nonprofit hospice organization. Measurements: Participants were asked to identify any crisis - defined as a time of intense distress due to a physical, psychological, and/or spiritual cause - they or the patient experienced, while receiving home hospice care. Results: Of the 183 participants, 76 (42%) experienced a perceived crisis, while receiving hospice care. Three types of crises emerged: patient signs and symptoms (n = 51, 67%), patient and/or caregiver emotional distress (n = 22, 29%), and caregiver burden (n = 10, 13%). Women were more likely than men (46% vs. 26%, p = 0.03) to report a crisis. Conclusions: A large minority of caregivers report perceiving a crisis while their loved one was receiving home hospice care. Physical (symptoms), psychological (emotional distress) function, and caregiver burden constituted the crises reported. Further studies are needed to better understand and address these gaps in care.
A death with dignity is influenced by the quality of care offered to patients. The objective of this study was to identify, through the firsthand experiences and insights of family caregivers, the key elements related to the care offered to patients with a terminal illness at the end of life. This multicenter qualitative study was based on the paradigm of hermeneutic phenomenology. Participants were relatives of patients with terminal illness who had been identified as primary caregivers. Five discussion groups and 41 in-depth interviews were organized with a total of 81 participants. The content of the interviews was analyzed based on the methods developed by Giorgi (J Phenom Psychol 1997;28(2):235-260). The results indicate the existence of 3 dimensions: the caregiver's suffering, compassion satisfaction with the care provided, and the support of health care professionals. Understanding the experiences of family members providing end-of-life care allows improved care and provides dignity in death. Health and social systems must provide comprehensive assistance covering the different aspects of needed care. Health professionals occupy a privileged position in the care of these patients and their families.
Family caregivers experience multiple transitions, resolutions, loss, and grief where their search for meaning becomes evident. Spirituality is an important dimension of palliative care, yet little attention has been given to this important aspect of spirituality especially among the family caregivers in a hospice setting. The study aimed to bring the hidden voices of family caregivers, their own spiritual experiences caring for their dying patients in a hospice setting, to guide and direct the care practices of health care professionals. An interpretive descriptive approach guided the study using a purposive sample of 18 family caregivers from a hospice in Karachi, Pakistan. Major themes were family love, attachment, and belongingness; honoring family values and dignity; acts of compassion and selfless service; and seeking God's kindness and grace. Spirituality enabled family caregivers to uncover meaningful engagement and provided strength and peace while serving a dying family member in challenging caregiving situations such as adversity and limited resources. They highly valued the love, respect, and honor of the family; showed compassion; believed in God's blessings; and experienced spiritual growth and self-transcendence. Spirituality was found to be a major resource of coping among family caregivers. Health care professionals need to integrate spirituality while developing family-centered interventions in hospice care.
Context: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an all-encompassing, life-limiting disease, resulting in the eventual paralysis of all voluntary muscles and concurrent loss of independence. As the disease advances, both patients and their family caregivers develop complex biological, psychological, and social needs, leading to increasing calls for the involvement of palliative care teams in the management of ALS. Objective: The purpose of this study was to generate a rich description of the realities of living with ALS, equipping palliative care teams with an in-depth understanding of the experiences and needs of patients with ALS and their family caregivers. Methods: This study employed a mixed-methods design, with quantitative data supplementing a larger body of qualitative data. Semi-structured interviews with 42 key stakeholders, including patients, family caregivers, and health-care providers, were analyzed for themes essential for effective understanding of ALS. Results: Identified themes were organized into 2 broad categories: (1) biopsychosocial needs of patients with ALS and family caregivers and (2) the impact of ALS on spiritual and emotional well-being. Quantitative data supported the recognized themes, particularly with regard to challenges associated with preserving independence, securing sufficient social support, and managing the emotional complexities of the disease. Conclusion: Study findings illustrate the intricacies of living with ALS and the importance of eliciting individualized values when caring for patients with ALS and their families. The complex biopsychosocial needs experienced by patients and family caregivers suggest numerous opportunities for meaningful palliative care involvement.
Hospice patients die in various settings, including at home with family caregivers. Hospice offers a time-of-death visit to provide support and confirm death, a requirement in some states but not all. Few studies have been conducted among home hospice families exploring their experiences without a time-of-death visit. To better understand the family's experience regarding the time of death of their loved one, we conducted an exploratory study using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Home hospice families who had experienced a death within the last 6 to 13 months and had not received a time-of-death visit were recruited. Seven interviews were conducted, and data were analyzed using an emergent thematic approach. Major themes included caregiver's previous experience with death, caregiver support, final hours, and reasons for not selecting a time-of-death visit. Results showed families did well without a time-of-death visit when strong social support was present and conveyed the importance of allowing personal choice. Further research is needed to identify families in need of time-of-death visits and targeted support needs and to inform practice and policy guidelines.
Rationale: Little direction exists on how to integrate early palliative care in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).Objectives: We sought to identify patient and family caregiver early palliative care needs across stages of COPD severity. Methods: As part of the Medical Research Council Framework developmental phase for intervention development, we conducted a formative evaluation of patients with moderate to very severe COPD (forced expiratory volume in 1 s [FEV1]/FVC < 70% and FEV1 < 80%-predicted) and their family caregivers. Validated surveys on quality of life, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and social isolation quantified symptom severity. Semi-structured interviews were analyzed for major themes on early palliative care and needs in patients and family caregivers and across COPD severity stages. Results: Patients (n = 10) were a mean (±SD) age of 60.4 (±7.5) years, 50% African American, and 70% male, with 30% having moderate COPD, 30% severe COPD, and 40% very severe COPD. Family caregivers (n = 10) were a mean age of 58.3 (±8.7) years, 40% African American, and 10% male. Overall, 30% (n = 6) of participants had poor quality of life, 45% (n = 9) had moderate-severe anxiety symptoms, 25% (n = 5) had moderate-severe depressive symptoms, and 40% (n = 8) reported social isolation. Only 30% had heard of palliative care, and most participants had misconceptions that palliative care was end-of-life care. All participants responded positively to a standardized description of early palliative care and were receptive to its integration as early as moderate stage. Five broad themes of early palliative care needs emerged: 1) coping with COPD; 2) emotional symptoms; 3) respiratory symptoms; 4) illness understanding; and 5) prognostic awareness. Coping with COPD and emotional symptoms were commonly shared early palliative care needs. Patients with very severe COPD and their family caregivers prioritized illness understanding and prognostic awareness compared with those with moderate-severe COPD. Conclusions: Patients with moderate to very severe COPD and their family caregivers found early palliative care acceptable and felt it should be integrated before end-stage. Of the five broad themes of early palliative care needs, coping with COPD and emotional symptoms were the highest priority, followed by respiratory symptoms, illness understanding, and prognostic awareness.
Background: People can live for many months without knowing why their body is failing prematurely before being diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND); a terminal neurodegenerative disease which can be experienced as 'devastating' for the person and their family. Aim: This study aimed to explore the meaning of supporting a loved one with MND to die. Methods: This study uses reflection and autobiographical story to connect with broader cultural, political and social meaning and understandings of dying. Findings: Four themes were identified relating to the end-of-life trajectory of MND. Loss of person (lived body experienced in silence); loss of relationships (lived relations are challenged); loss of home and loss of time (lived space and lived time take on new meaning); loss of future (dying-facing it alone). Conclusion: Dying with MND is a complex phenomenon. When a person can no longer move and communicate, relationships between those involved in end-of-life care are challenging. A person with MND needs the support from those acting as power of attorney to make their end of life their own, and they themselves need support to find meaning in their suffering. This autoethnographic reflection provides vicarious experiences for nurses and other healthcare professionals working with people with MND and similar conditions.
Family caregivers face ongoing, formidable stress and burden. Caregivers need sustainable support to maintain resilience. We aim to identify challenges, possible solutions that are resources for resilience, and expected consequences from the perspective of 39 family caregivers of hospice patients with dementia. The resilience framework was used to guide the coding and synthesis of the qualitative data. Identified challenges included difficulties in communication, providing care and decision-making, lack of knowledge, emotional challenges, concern about care facility selection, death with dignity, and lack of public awareness. Resilience resources for caregiving challenges were identified at the individual, community, and societal levels. Anticipated benefits of using these resources included the ability to provide better care and have a better quality of life for both patients and caregivers. The findings of this study can guide the design and implementation of supportive interventions designed for family caregivers of hospice patients with dementia to bolster available resilience resources.
Context: The goal of advance care planning (ACP) is to help ensure that the care people receive during periods of serious illness is consistent with their preferences and values. There is a lack of clear understanding about how patients and their informal carers feel ACP discussions should be implemented. Objectives: The objective of this study was to synthesize literature reviews pertaining to patients' and informal carers' perspectives on ACP discussions. Methods: This is a systematic review of reviews. Results: We identified 55 literature reviews published between 2007 and 2018. ACP discussions were facilitated by a diverse range of formats and tools, all of which were acceptable to patients and carers. Patients and carers preferred health professionals to initiate discussions, with the relationships they had with the professionals being particularly important. There were mixed feelings about the best timing, with many people preferring to defer discussions until they perceived them to be clinically relevant. ACP was felt to bring benefits including a greater sense of peace and less worry, but it could also be disruptive and distressing. Patients and carers perceived many benefits from ACP discussions, but these may differ from the dominant narratives about ACP in health policy and may move away from the narratives of RCTs and standardization in research and practice. Conclusion: Researchers and clinicians may need to adjust their approaches as current practices are not aligned enough with patients' and carers' preferences. Future research may need to test implementation strategies of ACP interventions to elucidate how benefits from standardization and flexibility might both be realized.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers play an important role in the care of patients receiving palliative care, yet little is known about the financial impact of family caregiving in this context. A lack of existing validated tools for collecting data on the costs of family caregiving in palliative care has resulted in a weak and limited evidence base. The aim of the study was to describe the development and initial piloting of a new survey tool which captures data on the costs of family caregiving in palliative care: the Costs of Family Caregiving (COFAC) questionnaire. METHODS: Development and piloting of the COFAC questionnaire involved 2 phases: (1) questionnaire development based on published evidence and cognitive interviews with service users; and (2) validity testing involving expert review and piloting with bereaved caregivers. RESULTS: Questionnaire content was generated from previously published research and related to work-related costs, carer time costs and out-of-pocket expenses. 2 group cognitive interviews with 15 service users refined content of the draft questionnaire. Face validity was established through expert review with 9 academics and clinicians. Piloting with 8 bereaved caregivers established acceptability and feasibility of administration. CONCLUSIONS: The COFAC tool has been shown to be valid, acceptable to bereaved caregivers and feasible to administer. The COFAC questionnaire is recommended for economic research in palliative care which seeks to capture data from a broad societal perspective which includes family caregiver costs.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to clarify the concept of death preparedness for family caregivers in dementia. Conceptualization was required to support the assessment, promotion, and operationalization (ie, measurement) of death preparedness through palliative care interventions such as advance care planning. Methods: Rodgers evolutionary method of concept analysis was selected to guide this study because of the dynamic nature of death preparedness influenced by context, setting, and time. A comprehensive literature search was conducted. Authors performed constant comparative analysis to identify and interpret surrogate/related concepts, attributes, antecedents, and consequences of death preparedness. Results: Most importantly attributes included (1) knowing and recognizing the symptoms of decline in dementia and what dying looks like; (2) understanding emotions and grief responses; (3) accessing and appraising supports needed to manage and care for dying; (4) organizing affairs and completing tasks in advance; (5) accepting that losses are inevitable and imminent; (6) reflecting on caregiving and finding meaning, “a silver-lining”; and (7) closing, reconciling, and renewing relationship bonds and completing the family member’s life. Discussion: This study contributed a full definition of death preparedness in dementia. Findings aligned with/expanded upon Hebert et al Theoretical Framework of Preparedness for End-of-Life. The use of problem- and emotion-based coping strategies by caregivers with support from health-care providers to promote feelings of death preparedness (including self-efficacy and control) and minimize uncertainty was the implication of this study. Development of a holistic preparedness instrument is underway.
Background: Caring for someone with dementia can be physically and emotionally difficult. Acting as a caregiver can make it difficult to access sources of support, particularly in the later stages of dementia. This paper reports the development and presents the targets (subject areas) and components of a prototype website to support family caregivers of a person with dementia towards the end of life. Methods: Adopting an iterative approach and co-production methods the development process consisted of four stages: Stage1-Synthesis of data: Three sources of data (interviews, systematic review and theory) were synthesised using tabulation, to identify the targets of the prototype; Stage2-Identifying intervention targets and components: A research development group (health practitioners, a family caregiver and academic experts) met to discuss the development, using a modified nominal group process, refining the synthesis from stage 1; Stage3-Developing the intervention prototype: An outline of the prototype was developed based on stage 1 and 2; and Stage4-User testing: Interviews with caregivers testing the prototype website. Results: Qualitative interviews with caregivers identified four targets for the intervention: 1) feeling prepared and equipped; 2) feeling connected and supported; 3) valuing themselves as a caregiver and as an individual; 4) maintaining control of the caring situation and being the coordinator of care. The systematic review provided evidence on how and what components could address these targets, including providing information, peer support, contact with professionals, and psychological support. Theory helped to narrow the focus within each of these targets. Active discussion with the research development group and end users provided an outline of the prototype website. The prototype website presented addresses these targets with written information, videos from other caregivers, and peer and professional support sections. The subject areas covered included expectations at the end of life, support with day-to-day caring, care planning, and communication. Conclusions: This paper provides a detailed account of the development process of a prototype website for caregiver support. The transparent methodology and key lessons learnt from developing the prototype should help those who are developing similar interventions, across complex, progressive conditions and not just limited to dementia.
Introduction: Mexican Americans (MAs) are the largest, fastest growing Latino subgroup in the United States, yet their use of hospice is limited. To better understand this disparity, the authors conducted an integrative review focused on MA caregiving families’ end-of-life (EOL) care decisions. Method: In this literature review, the authors content analyzed results and discussions of 22 research studies focused on EOL decisions, which sampled MA adults at least 50 years old and/or families. The authors used Whittemore and Knafl’s integrative review process, employing constructs from the Ethno-Cultural Gerontological Nursing Model. Results: Topics included attitudes toward hospice, life-sustaining treatment, advance care planning, EOL decision making, perceptions of a good death, and life-limiting illnesses. EOL research for MA caregiving families is meager, largely atheoretical, and rarely validated by subsequent studies. Discussion: Nursing research is needed to extend theory and policy in order to skillfully match EOL care with MA caregiving families’ needs.
Background: Patient/carer involvement in palliative care research has been reported as complex, difficult and less advanced compared to other areas of health and social care research. There is seemingly limited evidence on impact and effectiveness. Aim: To examine the evidence regarding patient/carer involvement in palliative care research and identify the facilitators, barriers, impacts and gaps in the evidence base. Design: Qualitative evidence synthesis using an integrative review approach and thematic analysis. Data sources: Electronic databases were searched up to March 2018. Additional methods included searching websites and ongoing/unpublished studies, author searching and contacting experts. Eligibility criteria were based on the SPICE (Setting, Perspective, Intervention, Comparison, Evaluation) framework. Two quality assessments on methodology and involvement were undertaken. Results: A total of 93 records were included. Eight main themes were identified, mainly concerning facilitators and barriers to effective patient and carer involvement in palliative care research: definitions/roles, values/principles, organisations/culture, training/support, networking/groups, perspectives/diversity, relationships/communication and emotions/impact. Evidence on the impact of involvement was limited, but when carried out effectively, involvement brought positive benefits for all concerned, improving the relevance and quality of research. Evidence gaps were found in non-cancer populations and collaborative/user-led involvement. Conclusion: Evidence identified suggests that involvement in palliative care research is challenging, but not dissimilar to that elsewhere. The facilitators and barriers identified relate mainly to the conduct of researchers at an individual level; in particular, there exists a reluctance among professionals to undertake involvement, and myths still perpetuate that patients/carers do not want to be involved. A developed infrastructure, more involvement-friendly organisational cultures and a strengthening of the evidence base would also be beneficial.
Informal caring at the end of life is often a fraught experience that extends well beyond the death of the person receiving care. However, analyses of informal carers' experiences are frequently demarcated relative to death, for example in relation to anticipatory grief (pre-death) or grief in bereavement (post-death). In contrast to this tendency to epistemologically split pre- and post-death experiences, we analyse informal caring across two separate qualitative interviews with 15 informal carers in one metropolitan city in Australia—one before and one after the death of the person for whom they cared. In doing so, we focus on accounts of care across dying and bereavement including: the evolving ambivalence of carers’ social relations at the end of life and beyond; dying and death as a challenge to the ideal of authenticity; and, the potential for misrecognition and social estrangement in caring relations at the end of life. We draw on social theory addressing the themes of ambivalence, authenticity and recognition to enhance our understanding of caring as a social practice that occurs across dying and bereavement, rather than as structured primarily by the context of one or the other.
Background: Family caregivers are crucial in end-of-life care. However, family caregiving may involve a significant burden with various negative health consequences. Although nurses are in a unique position to support family caregivers at home, little is known about which nursing interventions are effective in this context. Therefore, this study aims to provide insight into nursing interventions currently available to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home and to describe their effects. Methods: A systematic search was conducted in Embase, Medline Ovid, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, CINAHL and Google Scholar. This review included quantitative studies published from January 2003 until December 2018 reporting on nursing interventions to support adult family caregivers in end-of-life care at home. Data were extracted on intervention modalities, intervention components, and family caregivers’ outcomes. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. Results: Out of 1531 titles, nine publications were included that reported on eight studies/eight interventions. Of the eight studies, three were randomised controlled trials, one a pilot randomised trial, one a non-randomised trial, and three were single-group prospective studies. Four intervention components were identified: psychoeducation, needs assessment, practical support with caregiving, and peer support. Psychoeducation was the most commonly occurring component. Nursing interventions had a positive effect on the preparedness, competence, rewards, and burden of family caregivers. Multicomponent interventions were the most effective with, potentially, the components ‘needs assessment’ and ‘psychoeducation’ being the most effective. Conclusions: Although only eight studies are available on nursing interventions to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home, they show that interventions can have a positive effect on family caregivers’ outcomes. Multicomponent interventions proved to be the most successful, implying that nurses should combine different components when supporting family caregivers.
Objective: Family caregivers are the default caring personnel for terminal cancer patients. The characteristics, demographics, distribution, psychological burden, and socioeconomic standards differ between high- and low-income countries. We aimed to assess those factors and their direct reflection on both the patient and the caregiver. Patients and Methods: This is a comparative cross-sectional study for terminal cancer patients in the palliative care unit between the United Kingdom (UK) as a high-income community and Egypt as a low-income community. We assessed the different characteristics, demographics, living place, the degree of relevance, and the availability of caregivers. Results: We have recruited 216 patients from the UK and 117 patients from Egypt. Informal caregivers were available in 74.5% and 92.3% for these patients with a mean age of 71.5 (standard deviation [SD] 16) years and 50.9 (SD 15.18) years, respectively. There has been a statistically significant difference between the two countries' caregivers in being married, family, and living in the same household (P < 0.0001). Conclusion: Low-income countries are more common to have an informal caregiver who is a family member of different degree of relevance. Caregivers in low-income settings tend to be younger, of the female gender, married, and living in the same household than in high-income ones.
Understanding how informal care impacts formal care utilisation for home-based end-of-life patients is an important policy- and practice-relevant question. This paper aims to assess the relationship between informal and formal home care among home-based end-of-life patients and how this relationship has changed over the last decade and over the end-of-life trajectory. We focus on informal care provided by family members or friends, and three types of home-based formal care services: care by personal support workers, physician visits, and nurse visits. Using survey data collected in a home-based end-of-life care programme in Ontario, Canada from 2005 to 2016, we build a two-part utilisation model analysing both the propensity to use each type of formal care and the amount of formal care received by patients. The results suggest that informal care is a substitute for care by personal support workers, but a complement to physician visits and nurse visits. In the case of nurse visits, an increased complementary effect is observed in more recent years. For home-based physician and nurse visits, the complementary effect grows with patient's proximity to death. These results highlight the complexity of the relationship between informal and formal care among home-based end-of-life patients. Decision-makers need to take into account the relationship between informal care and different types of formal services when introducing future policies.
Informal caregivers immersed in the daily care of loved ones at end-of-life stages face such challenges as medical and household issues, worries, doubts, and uncertainties. Using a macro-mezzo-micro approach to discourse, we analyzed parent study interview data involving 46 caregivers facing end-of-life realities. At the mezzo level, we examined caregivers' expressed perceptions of control. We then more finely analyzed discursive expressions of affective stances pertaining to caregivers' emotions and feelings, and epistemic stances pertaining to their knowledge and belief states. Theories of uncertainty and control inextricably interweave areas of cognition, affect, and behavior regarding how caregivers perceive their realities and how they engage in or disengage from coping mechanisms in the process. The findings in this three-tiered approach make salient specific discursive patterns gleaned from systematic and fastidious attention to caregivers' own ways of using language that methodically afford deeper entry into the emotional, physical, and cognitive challenges in their everyday lived experiences.
In the era of widespread antiretroviral therapy, few studies have explored the perspectives of the relatives involved in caring for people living with HIV (PLHIV) during periods of ill-health leading up to their demise. In this analysis, we explore the process of care for PLHIV as their death approached, from their relatives' perspective. We apply Tronto's care ethics framework that distinguishes between care-receiving among PLHIV on the one hand, and caring about, caring for and care-giving by their relatives on the other. We draw on 44 in-depth interviews conducted with caregivers following the death of their relatives, in seven rural settings in Eastern and Southern Africa. Relatives suggested that prior to the onset of poor health, few of the deceased had disclosed their HIV status and fewer still were relying on anyone for help. This lack of disclosure meant that some caregivers spoke of enduring a long period of worry, and feelings of helplessness as they were unable to translate their concern and "caring about" into "caring for". This transition often occurred when the deceased became in need of physical, emotional or financial care. The responsibility was often culturally prescribed, rarely questioned and usually fell to women. The move to "care-giving" was characterised by physical acts of providing care for their relative, which lasted until death. Tronto's conceptualisation of caring relationships highlights how the burden of caring often intensifies as family members' caring evolves from "caring about", to "caring for", and eventually to "giving care" to their relatives. This progression can lead to caregivers experiencing frustration, provoking tensions with their relatives and highlighting the need for interventions to support family members caring for PLHIV. Interventions should also encourage PLHIV to disclose their HIV status and seek early access to HIV care and treatment services.
Purpose: The present study examined the degree to which loneliness mediated the influence of negative (social constraints) and positive (emotional support) relationship qualities on the global mental health of advanced gastrointestinal (GI) cancer patients and their family caregivers. Methods: Fifty patient-caregiver dyads completed measures assessing social constraints (e.g., avoidance, criticism) from the other dyad members, emotional support from others, loneliness, and global mental health. Structural equation modeling was used to examine individual models, and Actor-Partner Interdependence Mediation Modeling was used to examine dyadic associations. Results: Individual path analyses for patients and caregivers demonstrated that emotional support had a significant indirect effect on mental health through loneliness (Bs = 0.32 and 0.30, respectively), but no associations were found between social constraints and mental health. In dyadic analyses, participants' loneliness and mental health were not significantly related to their partner's emotional support, loneliness, or mental health (Bs = - 0.18 to 0.18). Conclusions: Findings suggest that for advanced GI cancer patients and caregivers, emotional support from others alleviates feelings of loneliness, which may lead to better mental health. However, the benefits of emotional support appear to be primarily intrapersonal rather than interpersonal in nature. Additionally, participants endorsed low levels of social constraints, which might explain their lack of relation to loneliness and mental health. Continued examination of interdependence in social processes between cancer patients and caregivers will inform intervention development.
Background: Public health policies tend to generalize the use of Hospital-At-Home (HAH) to answer the growing will of patients to be treated or to die at home. HAH is a model of care that provides acute-level services in the patient's home with the interventions of variety of health care professionals. Relatives participate also in the interventions by helping for sick patients at home, but we lack data on the care of patients and caregivers in HAH. The aim of this study was to make an inventory of the experiences of patients and family caregivers in HAH. Methods: The research was qualitative using nineteen semi-directed interviews from nine patients and ten caregivers of one care unit of Greater Paris University Hospitals' HAH, and the grounded theory was used to analyze the transcripts. Caregivers were also asked, after the interview, to fill in the Zarit Burden Inventory. Results: HAH remained mostly unknown for patients and caregivers before the admission proposition and the outlook of being admitted in HAH was perceived as positive, for both of them. Caregivers had a versatile role throughout HAH, leading to situations of suffering, but also had sources of support. The return home was considered satisfactory by both caregivers and patients, related to the quality of care and increased morale despite HAH's organizational constraints. We noted an impact of HAH on the relationship between the patient and the caregiver(s), but caused by multiple factors: the fact that the care takes places at home, its consequences but also the disease itself. Conclusion: HAH strongly involved the patient's caregiver(s) all along the process. HAH's development necessitates to associate both patients and caregivers and to take into account their needs at every step. This study highlights the need to better assess the ability of the caregiver to cope with his or her relative in HAH with acute and subacute care at home.
Background/Aims: Pain is a major concern of patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. There is strong evidence that pain coping skills training interventions based on cognitive-behavioral principles can reduce pain severity and pain interference. However, few such interventions have been tested for patients with advanced cancer and their family caregivers. This study aims to test the efficacy of a caregiver-guided pain coping skills training protocol on patient and caregiver outcomes. Methods: A total of 214 patients age ≥18 with Stage III–Stage IV cancer and moderate to severe pain, along with their family caregivers, are being identified and randomized with a 1:1 allocation to the caregiver-guided pain coping skills training intervention or enhanced treatment-as-usual. Dyads in both conditions receive educational resources on pain management, and the caregiver-guided pain coping skills training intervention includes three weekly 60-min sessions conducted with the patient–caregiver dyad via videoconference. Measures of caregiver outcomes (self-efficacy for helping the patient manage pain, caregiver strain, caregiving satisfaction, psychological distress) and patient outcomes (self-efficacy for pain management, pain intensity and interference, psychological distress) are collected at baseline and post-intervention. Caregiver outcomes are also collected 3 and 6 months following the patient's death. The study is enrolling patients from four tertiary care academic medical centers and one free-standing hospice and palliative care organization. The primary outcome is caregiver self-efficacy for helping the patient manage pain. Results: This article describes challenges in the design and implementation of the CaringPals trial. Key issues for trial design include the identification and recruitment of patients with advanced cancer and pain, and the follow-up and collection of data from caregivers following the patient's death. Conclusion: The CaringPals trial addresses a gap in research in pain coping skills training interventions by addressing the unique needs of patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. Findings from this study may lead to advances in the clinical care of patients with advanced cancer and pain, as well as a better understanding of the effects of training family caregivers to help patients cope with pain.
Aims: To evaluate the effectiveness of a two-session multicomponent family strengths- oriented therapeutic conversation intervention among family caregivers of an individual with advanced/final stage cancer during ongoing palliative home-care.; Background: Family caregivers of patients in the advanced/final phases of cancer, experience multifaceted psychological distress and morbidity. Psychosocial interventions improve the well-being of family members who are caring for their close relative.; Design: A pre-experimental design with a one-group pre-test/posttests measurements.; Methods: Forty-eight family caregivers were assigned to receive two 60-90 min sessions of the intervention. The primary outcome was perceived emotional and cognitive support and psychological well-being, measured at baseline (T1). Then the participants were offered the first session of the intervention. About one week later, the second session was administered. The participants answered the same questionnaires again (T2) and then 2-4 weeks later (T3). The guideline; Criteria for Reporting Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions 2, guided the reporting of the study.; Results: Family caregivers reported significantly higher emotional and cognitive support post-intervention (T2) and (T3). They also reported significantly reduced stress symptoms at (T3) and reduced caregiver burden post-intervention (T2) and at (T3).; Conclusion: The provision of the intervention contributed to extending knowledge about the usefulness of family conversations in the context of advanced/final stage cancer care.; Impact: There is a lack of knowledge regarding the benefit of therapeutic conversations interventions for family caregivers. The therapeutic conversation intervention offered, resulted in perceived support, decreased stress and decreased caregiving demands among caregivers in palliative home-care.
In the act of caring for and helping people in the end-of-life process, the professional who provides care and assistance must know how to maintain a relationship of closeness, empathy, and compassion for the pain and suffering of the person who is going to die. The objective was to understand, elaborate on, and characterize the key elements of end-of-life care of patients from a caregiver's perspective through a qualitative phenomenological multicenter study. Participants were caregivers who had lost a family member at least 2 months but less than 2 years in the past. The techniques used were 5 discussion groups and 41 in-depth interviews, which included a total of 81 participants. To analyze the information, a protocol developed by Giorgi was followed. Two dimensions or units of meaning, with subdimensions, emerged: (1) Technical competence, with the subdimensions "Control of symptoms" and "Continuity of care," and (2) Compassion, with the subdimensions "Effective/affective communication," "Attitudes of kindness and closeness toward the patient and the family," and "Generosity and personalized flexibility of care." Assistance at the end of life requires the proper preparation of professionals who care for these patients, in addition to a compassionate attitude on the part of professionals and the people accompanying the dying person, that fosters a more humanized and dignified treatment in the dying process.
Caregiving in the last years of life is associated with increased depression and negative health outcomes for surviving spouses, many of whom are themselves in poor health. Yet it is unclear how often spouses are caregiving alone, how they differ from supported spouses, and whether lack of support affects postbereavement outcomes. We hypothesized that spouses who were solo caregivers--that is, the only caregivers (paid or unpaid) who provided assistance with a spouse's selfcare or household activities--would experience more depression after bereavement than supported spouses would. Using information from the Health and Retirement Study, we found that 55 percent of the spouses of community-dwelling married people with disability were solo caregivers. Solo caregiving was even common among people who cared for spouses with dementia and those with adult children living close by. Bereavement outcomes did not differ between solo and supported caregiving spouses. Caregiving spouses are often isolated and may benefit from greater support, particularly during the final years before bereavement. While some state and federal policy proposals aim to systematically recognize and assess caregivers, further innovations in care delivery and reimbursement are needed to adequately support seriously ill older adults and their caregivers. Ultimately, the focus of serious illness care must be expanded from the patient to the family unit.
Informal hospice caregivers often have difficulty managing patient pain at home. We developed a digital application, e-Pain Reporter, for informal caregivers to record and providers to monitor patient pain and pain management. The purpose of this study was (1) to assess the feasibility of informal caregivers using the e-Pain Reporter for 9 days in home hospice by investigating recruitment and retention and caregiver satisfaction with and frequency of use of the e-Pain Reporter and (2) describe patient pain characteristics and caregiver's barriers to painmanagement and self-efficacy in providing patient care in the home. One-group pre-post design was used. Patient-caregiver dyads were recruited from 1 hospice agency. Caregivers were asked to report all patient pain and pain management using the e-Pain Reporter. Feasibility of the e-Pain Reporter was assessed by the average number of times caregivers recorded breakthrough and daily pain and caregiver satisfaction with the app. The 27-item Barriers Questionnaire II and 21-itemCaregiver Self-efficacy Scale were administered at baseline. Fourteen dyads enrolled, 2 patients died, and 12 dyads completed the study. Mean number of pain reports over 9 days was 10.5. Caregivers reported high overall satisfaction with the e-Pain Reporter. Barriers scores were moderately high, suggesting erroneous beliefs and misconceptions about pain reporting and use of analgesics, but self-efficacy in managing pain was also high (93% confidence). Findings suggest that the e-Pain Reporter is a feasible method to report and monitor caregiver management of pain at home. Caregiver high barriers and high overconfidence suggest the need for an educational component to the e-Pain Reporter to address misconceptions about pain and pain management.
Background: As older adults approach the end‐of‐life (EOL), many are faced with complex decisions including whether to use medical advances to prolong life. Limited information exists on the priorities of older adults at the EOL. Objective: This study aimed to explore patient and family experiences and identify factors deemed important to quality EOL care. Method: A descriptive qualitative study involving three focus group discussions (n = 18) and six in‐depth interviews with older adults suffering from either a terminal condition and/or caregivers were conducted in NSW, Australia. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Seven major themes were identified as follows: quality as a priority, sense of control, life on hold, need for health system support, being at home, talking about death and competent and caring health professionals. An underpinning priority throughout the seven themes was knowing and adhering to patient's wishes. Conclusion: Our study highlights that to better adhere to EOL patient's wishes a reorganization of care needs is required. The readiness of the health system to cater for this expectation is questionable as real choices may not be available in acute hospital settings. With an ageing population, a reorganization of care which influences the way we manage terminal patients is required.
Family carers play a central role in community-based palliative care. However, caring for a terminally ill person puts the carer at increased risk of physical and mental morbidity. The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) enables comprehensive assessment of carer support needs. The present study aimed to identify barriers and facilitators to implementing the CSNAT in a community specialist palliative care service. Semi-structured interviews with 12 palliative care nurse specialists from two community nursing teams in Lothian, Scotland, June 2017. Data was audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed. Palliative care nurse specialists acknowledge the importance of carers in palliative care and encourage carer support practices. Nurses perceived the CSNAT as useful, but used it as an 'add-on' to current practice, rather than as a new approach to carer-led assessment. Further training is recommended to ensure community palliative care nurses are familiar with the broader CSNAT approach.
Background: Family caregivers in palliative care may be placed in a complicated emotional situation wherein they suffer the risk of grief reactions both pre- and postbereavement and may also experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate (1) associations between predeath grief and postdeath grief and (2) whether these are moderated by symptoms of anxiety and depression. Design: This was a prospective correlational study. Linear regression analysis in three blocks was used to investigate associations between pre- and postdeath grief and moderation effects of anxiety and depression. Postdeath grief was used as the outcome variable and predeath grief was used as the explanatory variable in block I. The moderator variables, symptoms of anxiety, and symptoms of depression were added as covariates in block II. A multiplicative interaction term between predeath grief and anxiety/depression was added to the model in block III. Setting/Subjects: Data were collected at 10 facilities specialized in palliative home care where health care professionals provided advanced care to patients with various diagnoses in their own homes. Measurements: The anticipatory grief scale and the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief were used to measure pre- and postdeath grief, respectively. To measure symptoms of anxiety and depression, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale was used. Results: A total of 128 family caregivers were included. Significant associations were found between predeath grief and postdeath grief and this association remained when controlled against symptoms of anxiety or depression. We found no moderation effect of anxiety or depression on the association between pre- and postdeath grief. Conclusions: In conclusion, grief before and after an expected death can be regarded as parts of the same grief process. Hence, knowing the intensity of predeath grief could be a way to predict the levels of postdeath grief.
Several studies have highlighted the significant role of families in end-of-life care. Carers' well-being may depend on how they experience the care and support provided to their loved ones. This study was conducted to investigate family caregivers' assessment of specialized end-of-life care in a sample of 119 close family members in Iceland. The response rate was 58.8% (n = 70). Furthermore, the aim was to assess the psychometric characteristics of the Icelandic version of Family Assessment of Treatment at the End of Life (FATE). Descriptive statistics were used to describe the characteristics of the data. Results indicate that good communication and understanding of all parties concerned are the foundation for family caregivers' satisfaction with end-of-life care. Participants were generally satisfied with the care provided, whereas some important aspects of care were rated as excellent. Evaluation of management of symptoms reported in this study should be given specific attention in future studies considering its unsatisfactory outcomes. Nurses need to be aware of the impact that physical suffering of the patient might have on the family caregivers. The Icelandic version of the Family Assessment of Treatment at the End of Life instrument is a psychometrically sound instrument useful for measuring caregivers' satisfaction with service provided at the end of life, although modifications would improve the instrument for use on this population.
Background: End-of-life dreams and visions (ELDVs) are prevalent experiences that provide comfort and meaning to dying individuals. Limited research has examined the impact of ELDVs on the bereaved. Objective: This study aimed to explore differences in self-reported grief for people whose loved ones shared ELDVs and those who did not, and to describe the role of ELDVs in the grieving process. Design: Mixed-methods cross-sectional survey. Settings/Subjects: A total of 228 bereaved family caregivers (FCGs) of patients who died while under the care of a comprehensive hospice program were recruited. Measurements: Demographics and ELDV prevalence were collected. Bereavement was assessed using the Core Bereavement Items (CBI) a validated measure. Impact on grief was also evaluated using an ad hoc tool. Results: Comfort from dreams significantly related to total CBI score (r = 0.224, p = 0.047) as well as the images and thoughts (r = 0.258, p = 0.025) and acute separation subscales (r = 0.224, p = 0.047). Comfort from dreams had a positive relationship with accepting the reality of loss (r = -0.511, p < 0.001), working through the pain of grief (r = -0.556, p < 0.001), adjusting to the new environment (r = -0.405, p = 0.001), and continuing bonds (r = -0.538, p < 0.001). CBI scores were not significantly different between caregivers who reported loved ones with ELDVs and others. Open-ended responses were thematically analyzed resulting in three emergent themes: comfort, reflection and emotions, and sense-making. Conclusions: ELDVs' impact extends beyond those experiencing them to bereaved loved ones. Bereaved FCGs report that comforting ELDVs experienced by their dying loved ones influenced their grief process in terms of the Worden's tasks of mourning.
Objective: The family caregivers of patients receiving palliative care experience high levels of anxiety and depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the factors associated with family caregivers' anxiety and depression when caring for patients with advanced cancer in Greece.; Methods: The sample consisted of 100 patients undergoing palliative radiotherapy and their respective caregivers. Patients completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory. Their respective caregivers completed the Oberst Caregiving Burden Scale, the Bakas Caregiving Outcomes Scale, and the HADS. Correlational and multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify potential predictors of anxiety and depression.; Results: The majority of patients were male (63.0%), whereas the majority of their caregivers were female (76.0%). The mean ages of patients and caregivers were 63.9 ± 10.8 and 53.3 ± 12.6 years, respectively. Caregiving anxiety and depression were associated with patients' variables, such as gender (P < 0.0005), primary cancer (P = 0.008), and past surgery (P = 0.002), and caregiver's variables, such as gender (P = 0.001), co-residence (P = 0.05), previous care experience (P = 0.04), and means of transport (P = 0.038). In multiple regression analyses, caregiving anxiety and depression were significantly predicted by caregivers' and patients' characteristics, in a model that accounted for 48% of the anxiety variance (P < 0.0005) and 39% of the depression variance (P < 0.0005).; Conclusion: The caregivers who experienced more anxiety and depression shared the following traits: they were women, cared for men with lung cancer, cared for patients not undergoing surgery, lived together, were younger, went to the hospital by private means of transport, had previous care experience, and perceived an increased degree of general burden. Further investigation of the factors that may affect caregivers' psychological state is required to better identify parameters that may predict it.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. In Australia, where this study was conducted, there were 1,281 deaths from melanoma in 2016. Treatments for melanoma have changed rapidly in recent years with the introduction of immune and targeted therapies. These have resulted in longer term survival for some, but it is not clear which patients these treatments will work for, and for how long. This study aimed to understand the impact of melanoma treatments, as they relate to diagnosis and prognosis, on the experiences of family carers. Interviews were conducted with twenty carers of patients who were treated at three melanoma centres in Australia and who subsequently died. The study found that diagnosis of advanced melanoma was a time of uncertainty as carers struggled to understand the implications of the diagnosis. Treatment options in the form of relatively new immune and targeted therapies added to uncertainty around prognosis (i.e. the likely outcome, such as chance of survival). Carers reported unclear communication of prognosis by medical specialists. Some carers reported that medical specialists did not want or were not able to give a prognosis. Many carers expected that treatments would have positive outcomes. The study findings indicate that medical specialists should recognise and address carer understanding of and need for information about prognosis as early as possible following diagnosis. Communication of the uncertain benefit of these new therapies can help patients and carers make decisions about treatment preference and care planning
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) older adults are more likely than their heterosexual peers to age with limited support in stigmatizing environments often poorly served by traditional social services challenging their preparedness for end of life. Fourteen focus groups and three individual interviews were conducted in five Canadian cities with gay/bisexual men (5 groups 40 participants), lesbian/bisexual women (5 groups 29 participants), and transgender persons (3 interviews, 4 groups 24 participants). Four superordinate themes were identified: (a) motivators and obstacles, (b) relationship concerns, (c) dynamics of LGBT culture and lives, and (d) institutional concerns. Several pressing issues emerged including depression and isolation (more common among gay and bisexual men), financial/class issues (lesbian and bisexual women), and uncomfortable interactions with health-care providers (transgender participants). These findings highlight the challenges and complexities in end-of-life preparation within LGBT communities.
Objective: Advance care planning (ACP) increases quality of life and satisfaction with care for those with cancer and their families, yet these important conversations often do not occur. Barriers include patients' and families' emotional responses to cancer, such as anxiety and sadness, which can lead to avoidance of discussing illness-related topics such as ACP. Interventions that address psychological barriers to ACP are needed. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of a mindfulness intervention designed to cultivate patient and caregiver emotional and relational capacity to respond to the challenges of cancer with greater ease, potentially decreasing psychological barriers to ACP and enhancing ACP engagement. Method: The Mindfully Optimizing Delivery of End-of-Life (MODEL) Care intervention provided 12 hours of experiential training to two cohorts of six to seven adults with advanced-stage cancer and their family caregivers (n = 13 dyads). Training included mindfulness practices, mindful communication skills development, and information about ACP. Patient and caregiver experiences of the MODEL Care program were assessed using semistructured interviews administered immediately postintervention and open-ended survey questions delivered immediately and at 4 weeks postintervention. Responses were analyzed using qualitative methods.Result Four salient themes were identified. Patients and caregivers reported the intervention (1) enhanced adaptive coping practices, (2) lowered emotional reactivity, (3) strengthened relationships, and (4) improved communication, including communication about their disease. Significance of resultsThe MODEL Care intervention enhanced patient and caregiver capacity to respond to the emotional challenges that often accompany advanced cancer and decreased patient and caregiver psychological barriers to ACP.
Background: Home-based care networks differ in size and composition, but little is known about the characteristics of care networks for those nearing the end of their lives. This study aimed to identify different types of home-based care networks of community-dwelling older adults in the Netherlands and to assess the association between care network type and the health status and socio-demographic characteristics of care recipients. Methods/design: We used data from participants of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (2001–2013) with chronic diseases or functional limitations who died within 12 months of their last interview and received home based personal and/or household care (n = 146). Latent Class Analysis was used to model distinct end-of-life care networks among this pooled cross-section of older people whose characteristics imply care needs. The Akaike information criterion was used to determine the optimal model. Associations between network type and care recipient characteristics were explored using conditional inference trees. Results: We identified four types of care networks; a partner network (19%) in which care was mainly provided by partners, with little care from private caregivers or professionals, a mixed network (25%) in which care was provided by a combination of children, professionals and/or other family members, a private network (15%) in which only privately paid care was provided, and a professional network (40%) in which care was mainly provided by publicly paid professionals, sometimes with additional care from family or privately paid caregivers. Care networks near the end of life showed similar characteristics to those identified for older people more generally, but care seemed to be more intensive in the last year of life compared to the years preceding it. End-of-life care networks were mostly related to age, educational level and partner status. Formal care substitutes informal care whenever there is no partner or child present and able to provide care. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that personal and household care can be quite intensive in the last year of life, especially for partner caregivers. To prevent caregiver burden, it is important that professionals make sure partner caregivers receive adequate and timely support to cope with the care situation.
Objective: The issues surrounding a patient's terminal phase of cancer and the imminent death of the individual represent a major family crisis affecting all its members. The goal of this study was to assess the prevalence of psychological morbidity in family caregivers of persons with terminal cancer in terms of psychological distress, depression, anxiety, somatization, and complicated anticipatory grief, and to determine which factors may influence these responses. Method: One hundred and twelve family caregivers of individuals with terminal cancer completed an assessment protocol comprising the Brief Symptom Inventory (depression, anxiety, somatization, and a computed score for global distress), the Marwit-Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory - Short Form (anticipatory grief), the Family Inventory of Needs (importance and satisfaction of needs), and the Systemic Clinical Outcome Routine Evaluation -15 (family functioning). Prevalence of psychological morbidity was determined through descriptive and frequency statistics. Predictors of psychological morbidity were ascertained through structural equation modelling methods. Result Regarding the prevalence of psychological morbidity in family caregivers, 66.1% reported high levels of distress, 68.8% showed high risk of depression, 72.3% showed high risk of anxiety, 50.9% reported high levels of somatization, and 25.9% showed high risk of complicated anticipatory grief. It was found that the predictors of age, gender, relationship to the family member with terminal cancer, the caregiving role played (i.e., primary vs. nonprimary), the satisfaction of needs by healthcare professionals, and family functioning play an important role in terms of one's risk of developing psychological morbidity. Significance of results This study revealed an alarming prevalence of psychological morbidity in family caregivers of individuals living with terminal cancer, making it crucial to move forward from a patient-centered approach to a family-centrad approach to reduce the risk of family maladjustment when facing the imminent death of a family member and to prevent postdeath unadjusted responses.
Context: Family caregivers constitute a critical component of the end-of-life care system with considerable cost to themselves. However, the joint association of terminally ill cancer patients' symptom distress and functional impairment with caregivers' subjective caregiving burden, quality of life (QOL), and depressive symptoms remains unknown. Objectives/methods: We used multivariate hierarchical linear modeling to simultaneously evaluate associations between five distinct patterns of conjoint symptom distress and functional impairment (symptom-functional states) and subjective caregiving burden, QOL, and depressive symptoms in a convenience sample of 215 family caregiver-patient dyads. Data were collected every 2 to 4 weeks over patients' last 6 months. Results: Caregivers of patients in the worst symptom-functional states (States 3-5) reported worse subjective caregiving burden and depressive symptoms than those in the best two states, but the three outcomes did not differ between caregivers of patients in State 3 and States 4-5. Caregivers of patients in State 5 endured worse subjective caregiving burden and QOL than those in State 4. Caregivers of patients in State 4 suffered worse subjective caregiving burden and depressive symptoms but comparable QOL to those in State 2. Conclusion: Patients' five distinct, conjoint symptom-functional states were significantly and differentially associated with their caregivers' worse subjective caregiving burden, QOL, and depressive symptoms while caring for patients over their last 6 months.
Objective: Family caregivers (FCs) in China provide hospice care to terminally ill cancer patients; however, few studies have been conducted in China on caregiver burden and bereavement experiences as a process that continues over time. The purpose of this study was to identify the main elements of caring and bereavement experiences for FCs caring for patients diagnosed with terminal cancer.; Method: Twenty in-depth qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with FCs providing care in a hospice unit in Shenzhen, Southern China. Interview transcripts were analyzed via thematic content analysis.Result A framework based on the following eight principal themes was developed through content analysis of our FC interviews: symptoms of the illness, the truth-telling process, attitudes toward death, the "color" of death, social and professional support, the moment of death, and grief and loss. Significance of results The analysis showed that caregiving may positively or negatively influence the bereavement process.
Background: Although home hospice organizations provide essential care for and support to terminally ill patients, many day-to-day caregiving responsibilities fall to informal (ie, unpaid) caregivers. Studies have shown that caregivers value receiving clear information about end-of-life (EoL) care. Meeting the information needs of this group is critical in improving their experience in hospice.; Objectives: To identify the information needs of informal home hospice caregivers.; Design: One hundred five semi-structured phone interviews with informal caregivers were conducted. Study data were analyzed using a standard qualitative method (ie, content analysis).; Participants: Informal home hospice caregivers whose loved ones have been discharged (death or live discharge) from an urban, nonprofit hospice organization.; Measured: Participants' information needs were ascertained by assessing whether information regarding hospice was or was not fully explained or whether there was information they wished they knew prior to the hospice transition.; Results: Among study participants, 48.6% had unmet information needs related to (1) general information about hospice (n = 17, 16.2%), (2) what to expect at the EoL (n = 19, 18.1%), and (3) support provided by hospice (n = 30, 28.6%). Specifically, caregivers expressed the need for more information on what hospice is, caring for a dying patient, and the day-to-day care hospice provides.; Conclusion: Our study indicates that approximately half of the informal caregivers had unmet information needs. Further research is needed to identify efficacious strategies to best meet the information needs of this group. Specific topics that need emphasis include what hospice care is, what to expect at the EoL, and what level of support hospice offers.
Objective: To explore family caregivers' emotional experiences while caring for patients with advanced cancer and navigating distressing information, awareness of dying, and difficult decisions. Methods: Qualitative descriptive study of semi-structured interviews with 92 bereaved caregivers of patients with advanced cancer. Interviews explored caregivers' experiences as patients transitioned out of active cancer treatment and neared the end of life. Results: Included in caregivers' characterization of this transition time were three particularly emotionally charged experiences. The first occurred when caregivers felt jolted into awareness that patients were dying.They were startled to realize that patients would die sooner than expected; some expressed frustration that they had not been adequately warned. In the second, caregivers felt conflicted when involved in decisions that pitted patients' preferences against what caregivers felt patients needed, resulting in ambivalence, guilt, and grief. Thirdly, caregivers who felt they did their best for patients expressed fulfillment and gratitude. Conclusion: Caregivers of patients with advanced cancer face unique, emotionally charged experiences that can lead to distress and affect care at the end of life. Practice Implications: Awareness of these situations may help oncology teams to provide sufficient guidance and support, partner with caregivers to clarify patients' needs, and deliver higher quality care.
Background: Current international consensus is that 'early' referral to palliative care services improves cancer patient and family carer outcomes; however, in practice, these referrals are not routine. Uncertainty about the 'best time' to refer has been highlighted as contributing to care variation. Previous work has identified clear disease-specific transition points in the cancer illness which heralded subsequent poor prognosis (less than 6 months) and which, we contest, represent times when palliative care should be routinely introduced as a standardised approach, if not already in place, to maximise patient and carer benefit. This protocol details a trial that will test the feasibility of a novel standardised outpatient model of early palliative care [Standardised Early Palliative Care (STEP Care)] for advanced cancer patients and their family carers, with referrals occurring at the defined disease-specific evidence-based transition points.The aims of this study are to (1) determine the feasibility of conducting a definitive phase 3 randomised trial, which evaluates effectiveness of STEP Care (compared to usual best practice cancer care) for patients with advanced breast or prostate cancer or high grade glioma; (2) examine preliminary efficacy of STEP Care on patient/family caregiver outcomes, including quality of life, mood, symptoms, illness understanding and overall survival; (3) document the impact of STEP Care on quality of end-of-life care; and (4) evaluate the timing of palliative care introduction according to patients, families and health care professionals.; Methods: Phase 2, multicenter, open-label, parallel-arm, randomised controlled trial (RCT) of STEP Care plus standard best practice cancer care versus standard best practice cancer care alone.; Discussion: The research will test the feasibility of standardised palliative care introduction based on illness transitions and provide guidance on subsequent development of phase 3 studies of integration. This will directly address the current uncertainty about palliative care timing.; Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12617000534381.
Palliative and hospice care aims to improve quality of life of patients' relatives, but still little is known about their specific problems and needs. We present a comprehensive literature update. Narrative review to present an expert overview of peer-reviewed, English-written original research publications and reviews on psychosocial and existential problems, supportive needs as well as interventions for relatives during the patients' disease trajectory published between January 2017 and November 2018. A total of 64 publications were included. Relatives report high rates of psychological and existential distress, burden and psychological morbidity during the total disease trajectory of the patient. In addition, relatives report an alarmingly high number of unmet needs with information being the central issue. Relatives' problems and needs are part of complex systems influenced by various socio-demographic factors and patient⁻relatives-interactions and dependency between different psychological phenomena. First support interventions for relatives during disease trajectory have proven feasible and secondary data from randomized studies suggest beneficial effects of providing early palliative care also for relatives. Relatives should be addressed to a still larger extent in the daily practice of palliative and hospice care, thus further research to reveal more detailed systematic information is needed to improve relatives' psychological burden and quality of life.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe family caregivers' perspectives of the final month of life of patients with advanced cancer, particularly whether and how chemotherapy was discontinued and the effect of clinical decision-making on family caregivers' perceptions of the patient's experience of care at the end of life (EOL). Methods: Qualitative descriptive design using semi-structured interviews collected from 92 family caregivers of patients with end-stage cancer enrolled in a randomized clinical trial. We used a phased approach to data analysis including open coding, focused coding, and within and across analyses. Results: We identified three patterns of transitions characterizing the shift away from active cancer treatment: (1) "We Pretty Much Knew," characterized by explicit discussions about EOL care, seemingly shared understanding about prognosis and seamless transitions from disease-oriented treatment to comfort-oriented care, (2) "Beating the Odds," characterized by explicit discussions about disease-directed treatment and EOL care options, but no shared understanding about prognosis and often chaotic transitions to EOL care, and (3) "Left to Die," characterized by no recall of EOL discussions with transitions to EOL occurring in crisis. Conclusions: As communication and palliative care interventions continue to develop to improve care for patients with advanced cancer, it is imperative that we take into account the different patterns of transition and their unique patient and caregiver needs near the end of life. Our findings reveal considerable, and potentially unwarranted, variation in transitions from active treatment to death.
Background and Aim: The European Association of Palliative Care recommends that family carers need education on the progression of dementia. This systematic review aimed to explore whether interventions incorporating education regarding the progressive nature of dementia increased carers' understanding of dementia and improved mental health and burden.; Method: MEDLINE, PsycINFO and CINAHL were searched to April 2018. Randomised controlled trials with samples of family carers of someone with dementia were eligible. Included interventions involved a component aimed to increase the carer's understanding of the progression of dementia. Outcomes of interest included: knowledge of dementia, depression, burden and pre-death grief.; Results: Searches identified 3221 unique citations of which 11 studies were eligible for review. Interventions ranged from 4 to 16 sessions of which 1 to 3 sessions focused on the progression of dementia. Knowledge: Two studies evaluated carers' knowledge of dementia. One found no difference between the trial arms immediately after the intervention or three months later. The second found a significant intervention effect at the end of the intervention but not at three-month follow-up. Depression: Seven studies evaluated intervention effects on depression. Meta-analysis of three trials showed significant differences in mean follow-up scores favouring intervention over control. The remaining four studies did not show differences in depression between intervention and control groups. Burden: Nine studies evaluated burden and were examined in two meta-analyses (mean scores at follow-up and mean change scores from baseline to follow-up), neither of which found a benefit for intervention over control. Using the grading of recommendations assessment, development and evaluation system, we judged the quality of evidence to be very low for depression and low for burden, knowledge and pre-death grief, reducing our confidence in any of the effect estimates.; Conclusion: The evidence was not sufficient to support or refute the effectiveness of education on progression of dementia on carers' knowledge and mental health.
Objectives: The study evaluated the efficacy of an internet‐delivered cognitive‐behavioral intervention for caregivers of people with dementia and examined acceptance of program characteristics. Method: Thirty‐nine caregivers (Mage = 62.11 ± 9.67, 78.4% female) were enrolled in a 2 × 3 randomized‐controlled trial (RCT) that compared an intervention and wait‐list control group. A cognitive‐behavioral intervention program was adapted for delivery via an internet platform. Participants exchanged eight weekly messages with a therapist. Results: Treatment satisfaction and acceptance of the program were high. Well‐being increased over the intervention duration and intervention group participants were better able to cope with the anticipated death of the care recipient and utilized more psychosocial resources after the intervention ended. Effects were not maintained until follow‐up and there were no treatment effects for depression and burden of care. Conclusions: Internet‐delivered cognitive‐behavioral interventions are suitable for caregivers. A larger RCT needs to investigate possible combinations of classic and internet‐delivered programs and confirm efficacy.
Background: People with intellectual disabilities are living longer, with increasingly complex needs and their family caregivers may have a broad scope of unmet needs. Aims: To identify the most common needs of family caregivers, to identify gaps in the literature, and distinguish the information needs of family caregivers of people with intellectual disabilities who require palliative care. Methods: This two phase literature review used five electronic databases (CINAHL, PsycINFO, Medline, Cochrane and Pubmed). Phase 1 involved a review of systematic reviews of the needs of family caregivers across healthcare settings. Phase 2 explored the commonly reported information needs from phase 1, in relation to family caregivers of people with intellectual disability who require palliative care. There was no research explicit to the information needs of these family caregivers. Findings: This review reveals potential information needs which may exist, guided by the palliative caregiving literature; alluding to information needs surrounding the disease, finances, and psychological or practical support. Conclusion: It is surmised that a greater scope of informational need exists for this population and further research is pertinent for international healthcare settings.
Background: Internationally, it is widely accepted that holistic care is as an integral part of the care for people with motor neurone disease (MND), and their informal carers. However the optimal role of generalist and specialist palliative care, and how it integrates with specialist neurology services, is not fully established. Using a qualitative approach we sought to examine end of life care for people with MND in Northern Ireland, and the role of specialist and generalist palliative care. Methods: Qualitative study involving a convenience sample of 13 bereaved carers recruited using the Northern Ireland MND Register. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with the bereaved carers of patients who had died 3–24 months previously with a diagnosis of MND. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Findings illuminated variations in relation to the levels of holistic care provided to this cohort of patients. Unmanaged respiratory and psychological symptoms caused perceived distress amongst patients. Participants' experiences additionally highlighted reluctance amongst patients with MND to engage with services such as specialist palliative care. Conversely, for those who received input from specialist palliative care services carers portrayed these services to be of great benefit to the patient. Conclusions: Patients with MND in Northern Ireland may have many unmet holistic care needs. Key areas that require particular focus in terms of service development include neuromuscular respiratory physiotherapy and psychological services for patients. Future research must explore an optimal model of holistic care delivery for patients with MND and how this can be effectively integrated to best meet this patient cohorts palliative care needs.
The care of people with life-limiting illnesses is increasingly moving away from an acute setting into the community. Thus, the caregiver role is growing in significance and complexity. The importance of preparing and supporting family caregivers is well established; however, less is known about the impact of rurality on preparedness and how preparedness shapes the caregiving continuum including bereavement. The aim of this study, conducted in 2017, was to explore how bereaved rural family palliative carers described their preparedness for caregiving. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed following semi-structured interviews with four women and six men (N = 10, aged 55-87 years). Participants were recruited voluntarily through past engagement with a Regional Specialist Palliative Care Consultancy Service in Australia. The experiences of caregivers illustrated a lack of preparedness for the role and were characterised by four major themes: Into the unknown, Into the battle, Into the void and Into the good. The unknown was associated with a lack of knowledge and skills, fear, prognostic communication, exclusion, emotional distress and grief experience. Battles were experienced in a number of ways: intrapsychically (existing within the mind), through role conflict and identity; interpersonally with the patient, clinician and family; and systematically (against health, financial and legal systems). The void was felt during isolation in caregiving, in relinquishing the role, in bereavement and in feeling abandoned by service providers. Positive experiences, such as being valued, included and connected to supports, and the fostering of closer relationships and deeper meaning, occurred less frequently but temporarily buffered against negative aspects. Implications from this study for policy and practice centre on the frequent, purposeful and genuine engagement of caregivers. Services and clinicians are encouraged to enhance communication practices, promote meaningful inclusion, address access issues and enhance support at role relinquishment.
Background: Strong family bonds are part of the Indonesian culture. Family members of patients with cancer are intensively involved in caring, also in hospitals. This is considered "normal": a societal and religious obligation. The values underpinning this might influence families' perception of it.; Aim: To explore and model experiences of family caregivers of patients with cancer in Indonesia in performing caregiving tasks.; Design: A grounded theory approach was applied. The constant comparative method was used for data analysis and a paradigm scheme was employed for developing a theoretical model.; Setting/participants:: The study was conducted in three hospitals in Indonesia. The participants were family caregivers of patients with cancer.; Results: A total of 24 family caregivers participated. "Belief in caregiving" appeared to be the core phenomenon. This reflects the caregivers' conviction that providing care is an important value, which becomes the will power and source of their strength. It is a combination of spiritual and religious, value and motivation to care, and is influenced by contextual factors. It influences actions: coping mechanisms, sharing tasks, and making sacrifices. Social support influences the process of the core phenomenon and the actions of the caregivers. Both positive and negative experiences were identified.; Conclusion: We developed a model of family caregivers' experiences from a country where caregiving is deeply rooted in religion and culture. The model might also be useful in other cultural contexts. Our model shows that the spiritual domain, not only for the patient but also for the family caregivers, should be structurally addressed by professional caregivers.
Purpose: The primary objective of this study was to quantify cancer family caregiver (FCG) quality of life (QOL) in a Southern Albanian population and to determine whether differences exist between 4 domains of QOL (physical, psychological, social, and spiritual). This study also sought to compare QOL in our cohort to QOL in historical studies that used the same survey instrument, and to examine correlations between demographic characteristics and QOL to identify any high-risk groups.; Methods: A sample of 40 FCGs was recruited at the Mary Potter Palliative Care Clinic in Korçe, Albania. Each participant completed the City of Hope Quality of Life (Family Version), a validated 37-question instrument that measures caregiver well-being in 4 domains: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being.; Results: There were no significant differences between the composite scores of the 4 QOL domains in our study. However, there were differences when comparing self-reported QOL between domains ("Rate your overall physical/psychological/social/spiritual well-being"). The QOL measured in our study was significantly lower than in 3 studies from the United States that used the same questionnaire. There were no significant correlations between demographic groups and QOL.; Conclusions: This study examines the impact that the paucity of palliative services has on the QOL of Albanian cancer FCGs. Although there were no domains of QOL or demographic groups identified in our study that were faring significantly worse than others, the poor overall QOL provides further evidence to support the continued development of palliative services for both patients and family members in Albania.
Less is known about how caregivers prepare (or not) for the death of a family member with dementia. This study's purpose was to explore how caregivers handle these dementia deaths, including identification of barriers and facilitators to preparing caregivers for the death of an elder family member dying with dementia. This qualitative, descriptive study employed a purposive sampling strategy in which the principal investigator interviewed 36 caregivers of family members age 65 and older who died from a dementia-related diagnosis. Directed content analysis was used to analyze the data. Four primary themes were identified as barriers: (1) hindrances to information; (2) barriers to hospice; (3) ineffective attempts to comfort; and (4) the nature of death with dementia. Six themes were identified as facilitators: (1) religious/spiritual beliefs; (2) caregiver initiative; (3) prior experience; (4) bearing witness to decline; (5) professionals alerting caregiver (of what to expect of impending death); and (6) culture and legacy of family caregiving. The results support an increased role of social work in addressing caregivers' awareness of impending death and helping prepare them for the death of an elder with dementia.
This article investigates longitudinal variations in grief, self-rated health, and symptoms of anxiety and depression among family caregivers in palliative care. Data were taken from a randomized psycho-educational intervention trial and were collected at four time-points; at baseline, upon completion, 2 months later, and 6 months after the patient's death. In total, 117 family caregivers completed all questionnaires. The participants' grief was stable across the measurements, while anxiety, depression, and health varied significantly (p < 0.05). No significant differences were found between the intervention or control group. In conclusion, grief emerged as a constant phenomenon, distinct from symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Introduction: In palliative care, family caregivers are often faced with experiences of grief in anticipation of the loss of a close person. An instrument designed to measure this form of grief is the Anticipatory Grief Scale, which includes 27 items and has been used in several studies in various contexts. However, the instrument has not been validated.; Aim: The aim was to evaluate the psychometric properties, focusing on the factor structure, of the Anticipatory Grief Scale in a sample of family caregivers in palliative care.; Methods: The study had a cross-sectional design. Data were collected from an intervention study in palliative home care that took place between 2013 and 2014. In total, 270 family caregivers in palliative care completed a baseline questionnaire, including the Anticipatory Grief Scale. The factor structure of the scale was evaluated using exploratory factor analysis.; Results: The initial factor analysis suggested a four-factor solution, but, due to weak communalities, extensive crossloadings, and item inconsistencies, the model was problematic. Further analysis supported that the scale should be reduced to 13 items and two factors. The two subscales captured the behavioral and emotional reactions of grief in family caregivers in palliative care and were named Behavioral reactions and Emotional reactions. This modified version will hereafter be named AGS-13.; Conclusions: This validation study of the Anticipatory Grief Scale resulted in a revised two-factor model, AGS-13, that appears to be promising for use in palliative care but needs to be tested further.
Background: Self-care systems for early-stage specialist palliative care for cancer patients and their family caregivers have received much attention recently. Resonant breathing is an established method for maximizing heart rate variability (HRV), but it has not been implemented for home self-care. Objective: We aimed to examine the usefulness and ease of implementation for family caregivers to administer resonant breathing using a portable device at home. Design: We divided caregivers into two groups—a home self-care group and a control group—and we conducted a randomized open-label study, with rate of change in HRV being the primary outcome. Setting/Subjects: We administered HRV biofeedback (HRV-BF) using resonant breathing to 54 family caregivers who felt burdened by their nursing care responsibilities. Results: Among the self-care group, 92.6% of participants completed the study in their homes; 28 days after intervention initiation, the resonant breathing implementation rate at home was 86.1%. There was an interaction between time course and grouping in our HRV comparisons: the change rate in the home self-care group was higher during HRV-BF than before HRV-BF. Conclusions: Because family caregivers in our study learned to quickly administer resonant breathing using a portable device at home, resonant breathing improved rapidly, along with autonomic nerve function and quality of life.
The prevalence of terminally ill patients, who die at home, is increasing. The aim of this study was to address the meaning of being young adults, who were the caregivers of their dying parents. In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 Israeli Jewish young adults, who had been the primary caregivers for parents who had cancer and eventually died at home. Three themes emerged: (a) "I was Chosen and was led into that situation": modes of taking on and performing the role of a caregiver, (b) "My life was on hold": the experience of performing the caregiving role, and (c) "I underwent . . . the real school of life": caring for the dying parent as an imprint on self-development. Participants integrated compassionate caring into their identity, reflecting an empowering encounter of young carers with their dying parents as a process of growth in the face of harsh, stressful experiences.
Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) is a globally polarising topic which often sparks debate surrounding the ethical and moral dilemmas that arise with a life-ending intervention. To gain a better understanding of this intervention, it is important to explore the experience of those most intimately affected by MAiD. Family caregivers of those with a terminal illness are the backbone of the healthcare and support team, often providing a substantial amount of informal care while at the same time coping with their own distress and anticipatory grief. However, we know the least about how MAiD impacts the psychosocial well-being of these same individuals. The aim of this article is to explore the experience of MAiD from the family caregiver perspective, namely their beliefs and opinions about the intervention, how the process of MAiD impacts them, how the intervention shapes their view of their loved one's quality of death, and the psychosocial outcomes after the passing of their loved one. Beyond the literature, challenges within both the clinical and research realms will be discussed and future directions will be offered. While MAiD is currently legal in only a small number of countries, a better understanding of the impact of MAiD will help inform policy and legislation as they are developed in other jurisdictions. Further, this article aims to inform future research and clinical interventions in order to better understand and support those seeking MAiD and their families.
Objectives: A sizable minority of those who lose a loved one in hospice will experience symptoms of bereavement-related mental health disorders. Though hospices offer services to bereaved informal caregivers (family members or friends) of patients, little is known about services offered or interest in them. Therefore, we sought to assess services offered by hospice staff and interest expressed by bereaved informal caregivers with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or complicated grief (CG).; Methods: De-identified electronic bereavement care charts of 3561 informal caregivers who lost someone in a large urban metropolitan hospice from October 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, were reviewed.; Results: Of bereaved informal caregivers in the sample, 9.4% (n = 333) were positive for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or CG. The symptom-positive family members/friends were more likely than other family members/friends to be offered mailings, one-to-one counseling, telephone calls, and reference material. However, interest in most services by symptom-positive caregivers was low, with only 6% interested in one-to-one counseling and 7% interested in outside referral.; Discussion: The findings suggest that hospices offer a range of services to family members or friends with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and CG, but that there can be a gap between what is offered and in the interest levels of the bereaved. Engagement with symptomatic family members and friends could be enhanced in future work.
Background: It is often suggested that terminally ill patients favour end-of-life care at home. Yet, it is unclear how these preferences are formed, if the process is similar for patients and family caregivers, and if there are discrepancies between preferences for place of care and place of death. Understanding these nuances is essential to support people in their decision-making and ultimately provide better care at the end-of-life.; Aim: To gain an in-depth understanding of how terminally ill patients and their family caregivers make decisions about preferred place of care and place of death.; Design: Semi-structured interviews with patients and family caregivers, which were analysed thematically using qualitative description.; Setting/participants: A total of 17 participants (8 patients and 9 caregivers) recruited from an acute palliative care hospital ward, a sub-acute hospice unit, and a palliative homecare organisation in Melbourne, Australia.; Results: The process of forming location preferences was shaped by uncertainty relating to the illness, the caregiver and the services. Patients and caregivers dealt with this uncertainty on a level of thoughts, emotions, and actions. At the end of this process, patients and caregivers expressed their choices as contextual, personal, relational, conditional and flexible preferences.; Conclusions: These findings suggest that in many cases end-of-life decision-making does not conclude with a clear and stable choice. Understanding the reasons for the malleability of preferences and the process of how they are formed has implications for both clinicians and researchers.
Introduction: In the United States, informal caregivers (ICs) provide care to over 70% of patients at the end of life. Approximately 500 000 ICs contribute to the end-of-life care for patients in the United Kingdom. Hospice care is expanding worldwide to meet the needs of these ICs. Because ICs play an instrumental role in the provision of hospice services, and their perspective of their needs of formal services requires further clarity, the purpose of this review is to synthesize research that elucidates perceptions of ICs regarding their experiences with hospice providers.; Methods: Twelve research studies regarding perceptions of informal hospice caregivers were obtained by searching CINAHL, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE databases.; Results: Four primary themes emerged that describe what ICs perceive as beneficial contributions of hospice providers in aiding their caregiving: providing easy access to desired care, building up the caregiver, forming a relationship, and utilizing culturally relevant interpersonal skills.; Conclusion: Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that the IC is acknowledged as an expert part of the team. Clearly explaining available services, creating better ways to ease the IC's transition from caregiving to bereavement, and recruiting minority hospice providers are other important efforts that could improve the caregiving experience. The needs of ICs are complex, but by listening to their perspective, we can begin to clarify the best ways to aid them in their difficult job.
Objective: Despite their key role in caring for individuals with serious, chronic illness, there have been no national studies examining family caregiver awareness and perceptions of palliative care. Hence, our objectives were to ascertain level of knowledge of palliative care among U.S. family caregivers and describe demographic variation in awareness and perceptions of palliative care.; Method: Using the 2018 National Cancer Institute Health Information National Trends Survey, we identified unpaid family caregivers caring or making healthcare decisions for someone with a medical, behavioral, disability, or other condition. Respondents were asked about their awareness of the term "palliative care" and, if aware, how much they agreed with statements representing common (mis)perceptions about palliative care (e.g., "Palliative care is the same as hospice"). Result More than one-half of caregivers (55%) had "never heard" of palliative care; 19.2% knew what palliative care was and "could explain it to someone else." In adjusted models, racial minorities (vs. whites) and those without a college degree were less likely to have heard of palliative care. Among those aware of palliative care, ~40% "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that "Palliative care is the same as hospice"; another 10.5% "didn't know." Similarly, 40% reported that "When I think of palliative care, I automatically think of death." Significance of results One-half of family caregivers of adults with serious chronic illness have never heard of palliative care. Even among those who had heard of palliative care, the majority do not distinguish it from hospice care and death. Given the role family caregivers may play in decisions to access palliative care, public messaging efforts are needed to clarify palliative care services in a way that is patient- and family-centered.
Aims Numerous healthcare decisions are faced by persons with advanced cancer from diagnosis to end-of-life. The family caregiver role in these decisions has focused on being a surrogate decision-maker, however, little is known about the caregiver’s role in supporting upstream patient decision-making. We aimed to describe the roles of family caregivers in assisting community-dwelling advanced cancer patients with healthcare decision-making across settings and contexts. Methods Qualitative study using one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with community-dwelling persons with metastatic cancer (n = 18) and their family caregivers (n = 20) recruited from outpatient oncology clinics of a large tertiary care academic medical center, between October 2016 and October 2017. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Findings Caregivers averaged 56 years and were mostly female (95%), white (85%), and the patient’s partner/spouse (70%). Patients averaged 58 years and were mostly male (67%) in self-reported “fair” or “poor” health (50%) with genitourinary (33%), lung (17%), and hematologic (17%) cancers. Themes describing family member roles in supporting patients’ upstream healthcare decision-making were: 1) seeking information about the cancer, its trajectory, and treatments options; 2) ensuring family and healthcare clinicians have a common understanding of the patient’s treatment plan and condition; 3) facilitating discussions with patients about their values and the framing of their illness; 5) posing “what if” scenarios about current and potential future health states and treatments; 6) addressing collateral decisions (e.g., work arrangements) resulting from medical treatment choices; 6) originating healthcare-related decision points, including decisions about seeking emergency care; and 7) making healthcare decisions for patients who preferred to delegate healthcare decisions to their family caregivers. Conclusions These findings highlight a previously unreported and understudied set of critical decision partnering roles that cancer family caregivers play in patient healthcare decision-making. Optimizing these roles may represent novel targets for early decision support interventions for family caregivers.
Objectives: Family caregivers of hospice patients have multiple needs as they try to cope during a stressful time. Translatable interventions effective in improving caregiver outcomes are greatly needed. Our objective was to assess the impact of a problem-solving intervention (called Problem-Solving Intervention to Support Caregivers in End-of-Life Care Settings [PISCES]) to support hospice caregivers on caregiver quality of life and anxiety, and compare its effectiveness delivered face to face and via videoconferencing.; Design: In this 4-year randomized clinical trial, caregivers were randomly assigned to a group receiving standard care with added "friendly calls" (attention control [AC] group), a group receiving standard care and PISCES delivered face to face (F2F), or a group receiving standard care and PISCES delivered via videoconferencing (VC).; Setting: Home hospice.; Participants: A total of 514 caregivers participated (172 in AC, 171 in F2F, and 171 in VC). Caregivers were predominantly female (75%); mean age was 60.3 years.; Intervention: PISCES includes a structured curriculum delivered in three sessions and motivates caregivers to adopt a positive attitude, define problems by obtaining facts, set goals, and generate and evaluate solutions.; Measurements: Quality of life was measured by the Caregiver Quality of Life Index-Revised; anxiety was measured by the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item. Other measures included the Caregiver Reaction Assessment scale, demographic data, and an exit interview.; Results: Compared with AC, caregivers in the F2F condition had postintervention reduced anxiety (-1.31 [95% confidence interval [CI] = -2.11 to .50]; p = .004) and improved social (.57 [95% CI = .19-.95]; p = .01), financial (.57 [95% CI = .21-.93]; p = .004), and physical quality of life (.53 [95% CI = .19-.87]; p = .01). There were no differences in caregivers in the VC condition compared with the AC condition.; Conclusion: The PISCES intervention improves caregiver outcomes and is effective when delivered in person. How to integrate technology to reduce the intervention delivery cost warrants further investigation.
Background: Family carers are crucial in enabling dying people to stay at home, but are often not prepared for their caring role, receiving little support from formal health and social care services. It is increasingly likely that any help or support family carers receive will be provided by a third sector organisation on either a voluntary basis or by untrained carer support workers.; Objectives: To produce a training programme designed to equip carer support workers and volunteers with the basic skills and knowledge needed to support family carers.; Process Of Development: Participatory action research, a collaborative form of working in which those who are affected by an issue take a lead role in the research, was used. Bereaved carers acting as research partners, support workers and representatives of third sector organisations took an active part in designing, developing, piloting and refining the programme in a number of interlinked stages. During development, the programme was piloted on four occasions and evaluated by 36 trainees and 3 trainers.; Final Training Programme: The outcome of the project is an innovative, 1-day training programme, offering an introduction to supporting family carers who are looking after someone approaching the end of life. The use of participatory action research methods enabled the development of a programme that addresses support needs identified by bereaved carers and training needs identified by carer support workers.The finished programme includes all the materials necessary to run a training day for support workers and volunteers: facilitator's notes, trainee workbook, slides, promotional poster and pre-course reading for trainees. Knowledge of issues involved in end-of-life and palliative care is not required, although some experience in delivering training is advisable.; Conclusion: The programme evaluated well during development, but further research is required to examine the transfer of learning into the workplace.
Background: Palliative care for older people with life-limiting diseases often involves informal caregivers, but the palliative care literature seldom focuses on the negative and positive aspects of informal caregiving.; Objective: To assess the association of proximity to end of life (EOL) and dementia caregiving with informal caregivers' burden of care and positive experiences and explain differences in outcomes.; Design: Data on 1267 informal caregivers of community-dwelling older people were selected from a nationally representative cross-sectional survey and analyzed using analysis of variance and multivariable regression analyses.; Measurements: The Self-Perceived Pressure from Informal Care Scale and the Positive Experiences Scale were administered to assess caregiver burden and positive experiences with providing care.; Results: Dementia care, both at EOL and not at EOL, was associated with the most caregiver burden relative to regular care. Dementia care not at EOL was associated with the fewest positive experiences, and EOL care not in dementia with the most positive experiences. Only the differences in burden of care could be explained by variables related to stressors based on Pearlin stress-coping model.; Conclusions: Informal caregivers of people with dementia are at risk not only of high caregiver burden but also of missing out on positive experiences associated with caregiving at EOL. Future research should examine how dementia-related factors reduce positive caregiving experiences, in order to make palliative care a positive reality for those providing informal care to community-dwelling persons with dementia.
Objectives Caregivers of terminal patients often report a higher prevalence of unmet needs than cancer survivors. However, very few interventions have been carried out to support caregivers of patients in advanced stages, and, in most cases, they have not been rigorously designed and evaluated. The ultimate aim of this research was to obtain specific information about the sociodemographic characteristics, the different types of care provided, the symptoms due to burdens, the impact of caring on the quality of life, and the unmet needs of informal caregivers of dependent patients with cancer. This is to design effective intervention programs that can be implemented from the hospital setting itself and therefore, to improve their quality of life and prevent the deterioration of their health. Study design A cross-sectional design and survey methodology were used for descriptive purposes. Methods The sample was composed of 132 informal caregivers of dependent patients with cancer, from a public hospital in Valencia, Spain, who were identified through the patient database of the oncology service, over the 4-month data collection period. Self-administered questionnaires were combined with personal interviews: Interview Protocol for the main caregiver, Questionnaire ICUB97, and survey of hospital quality. Results The most frequently provided types of care included the following: keeping the patient company, acting as an intermediary between them and healthcare workers, and helping them to do basic daily life activities. The main negative consequences caregivers reported were the following: feeling more tired, having less free time, changing their daily routines, and having fewer social relationships/interactions and various emotional and physical symptoms. Many of the needs of informal caregivers were not being met: resolution of doubts about illness, training in the care they should provide to the patient, and psychological help. Conclusions Recommendations for the development of effective intervention programs are offered: increasing the psychological services provided in oncology units, training medical staff in communication skills, facilitating access to information about the disease through different means, training for informal caregivers in care techniques, coping and communication skills, self-care, and organization of time. On the one hand, implementing effective intervention programs for informal caregivers will reduce the amount withdrawing from their care duties and on the other hand, the proliferation of what are known as secondary patients. Highlights • Caregiving women were more prevalent than men, with an average age of 45 years, and a medium socioeconomic status. • The most frequently provided cares were helping patients in basic activities and mediating between them and medical staff. • The main negative consequences for caregivers were changing daily routines and various emotional and physical symptoms. • The main unmet need of caregivers was specific information and training about the care they should provide to the patient.
End-of-life caregiving is a highly stressful experience often fraught with conflict and tension. However, little is known about the ways family conflict manifests for informal caregivers of home hospice patients (IHCs). Framed by relational dialectics theory, the purpose of this study was to provide nurses and other health care professionals with an empirical understanding of how IHCs experience family conflict and tensions associated with caregiving. A second aim was to determine what strategies IHCs use to manage these family conflicts. Data used in this qualitative secondary analysis were originally collected as part of a randomized clinical trial of an IHC support intervention. Based on thematic analysis of data from 25 IHCs who reported family conflict, a conceptual model of caregiver resilience was developed from the themes and categories that emerged during the coding stage. Autonomy was identified as a central tension. IHCs used several strategies to address family conflict including communication, formal support, and emotional self-care.
Background: Little is known about the place of death of patients with cancer in Eastern Mediterranean countries including Egypt, where palliative care is underdeveloped. Identifying the preferred place of death (PPoD) is important for the development of appropriate palliative care models in these countries. Objectives: To know the PPoD of Egyptian patients with incurable cancer and their family caregivers (FCGs) and to determine the factors that may impact their preferences. Methods: An observational cross-sectional study that included 301 dyads of patients with incurable cancer and one of their FCGs. A questionnaire was designed to collect data about the characteristics of patients and FCGs as well as their preferences. Results: The majority of dyads (272/301, 90.4%) answered the PPoD question. Home was the PPoD in 93% of patients and 90.1% of FCGs (P = .218). The congruence between patients' and FCGs' PPoD was 92.7% (κ = 0.526). In multivariate analysis, poorer performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group 3 or 4) and full employment of FCGs associated significantly with patients' preference to die in hospital (odds ratio [OR] = 3.015 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.004-9.054], P = .049 and OR = 4.402 [95% CI: 1.561-12.417], P = .005, respectively), while poorer performance status and nonreferral to the palliative medicine unit were associated with FCGs' preference of hospital death (OR = 2.705 [95% CI: 1.105-6.626], P = .029 and OR = 2.537 [95% CI: 1.082-5.948], P = .032, respectively). Conclusions: The results of the current study suggest that home is the PPoD for the vast majority of Egyptian patients with incurable cancer and their FCGs. Palliative care interventions that promote home death of patients with incurable cancer are needed in Egypt.
Background: Although palliative care is expanding globally for patients with serious illness, Turkey has not had widespread integration of early concurrent oncology palliative care. Hence, adapting and testing models of concurrent oncology palliative care for Turkish patients is imperative. Furthermore, it is critical that these care models also address the needs of family caregivers.; Objective: To assess needs and elicit suggestions that would inform the adaptation of the ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) evidence-based early palliative care model for Turkish family caregivers of older persons with cancer.; Methods: Formative evaluation study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 primary family caregivers of older individuals with cancer. Thematic analyses yielded themes in four domains: meaning of caregiving, effect of caregiving, education and consulting needs, and preferences about the delivery of the ENABLE model of palliative care support.; Results: Caregivers described the impact of the cancer on their daily lives and responsibilities in the areas of physical, psychological, work, social, and family life. Caregivers emphasized their needs for information about symptoms, physical care, cancer pathology, and prognosis. Regarding the ENABLE model of early concurrent palliative care, participants wanted encounters to be in-person with educational material support that was simple and focused on disease information (prognosis, medication, handling emergency situations), psychological support, caring, nutrition, and acquiring community services.; Conclusion: Themes from this study will be used to modify the ENABLE intervention protocol for future pilot and efficacy testing in Turkish caregivers.
Context. Family caregivers play critical and demanding roles in the care of persons with dementia through the end of life. Objectives. The objective of this study was to determine whether caregiving strain increases for dementia caregivers as older adults approach the end of life, and secondarily, whether this association differs for nondementia caregivers. Methods. Participants included a nationally representative sample of community-living older adults receiving help with self-care or indoor mobility and their primary caregivers (3422 dyads). Older adults' death within 12 months of survey was assessed from linked Medicare enrollment files. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association between dementia and end-of-life status and a composite measure of caregiving strain (range: 0–9, using a cut point of 5 to define “high” strain) after comprehensively adjusting for other older adult and caregiver factors. Results. The prevalence of dementia in our sample was 30.1%; 13.2% of the sample died within 12 months. The proportion of caregivers who experienced high strain ranged from a low of 13.5% among nondementia, non–end-of-life caregivers to a high of 35.0% among dementia caregivers of older adults who died within 12 months. Among dementia caregivers, the odds of high caregiving strain were nearly twice as high (aOR = 1.94, 95% CI: 1.10–3.45) for those who were assisting older adults nearing end of life. Among nondementia caregivers, providing care near the end of life was not associated with high strain. Conclusion. Increased strain toward the end of life is particularly notable for dementia caregivers. Interventions are needed to address the needs of this population.
The physical and emotional toll of caring for someone who requires assistance moving, bathing, eating, grooming, and using the restroom increases if he or she is exhibiting signs of confusion or aggression. The literature is abundant with evidence that family caregivers are prone to anxiety and depression related to their duties. Additionally, burdened caregivers can put their patients at risk, as anxiety and depression can impact judgment. Caught in temporary situations that can seem endless, many caregivers experience mental health issues related to social isolation, financial concerns, and physical exhaustion. Here, Mathias explores the psychological impact of providing end-of-life care for a loved one and offers tools to assess and alleviate caregiver burden.
Background: It is not known which attributes of care are valued the most by those who experience hospice services. Such knowledge is integral to service development as it facilitates opportunities for continuous improvement of hospice care provision. The objectives of this mixed-studies systematic review were to explore patients' and their family carer views and experiences, to determine what they valued about adult hospice care in the UK. Methods: ASSIA, PubMed, CINAHL and PsycINFO were searched from inception, up until March 2017 to identify qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies. Four additional searching techniques supplemented the main search and grey literature was included. A three-stage mixed-method systematic review was conducted with a sequential exploratory design. Thematic synthesis was used with qualitative data, followed by a narrative summary of the quantitative data. The qualitative and quantitative syntheses were then juxtaposed within a matrix to produce an overarching synthesis. Results: Thirty-four studies highlighted that what patients and carers valued was generally context specific and stemmed from an amalgamation of hospice service components, which both individually and collectively contributed to improvements in quality of life. When the syntheses of qualitative and quantitative studies were viewed in isolation, the value placed on services remained relatively consistent, with some discrepancies evident in service availability. These were commonly associated with geographical variations, as well as differences in service models and timeframes. Through an overarching synthesis of the qualitative and quantitative evidence, however, notable variations and a more nuanced account of what people valued and why were more prominent, specifically in relation to a lack of social support for carers, disparate access to essential services, the underrepresentation of patients with a non-cancer diagnosis, and the dissatisfaction with the range of services provided. Conclusion: Review findings strengthen the existing evidence base and illuminates the underpinning elements of hospice care most valued by patients and their families. With large disparities in the availability of services, however, the underrepresentation of patients with non-malignant diseases and the limited evidence base demonstrating the adequate addressment of the social needs of carers, there continues to be considerable gaps that warrants further research.
Objectives: Historically, dementia has not been recognised as a life-limiting condition or one that may benefit from a palliative approach to its care. There are many challenges in providing palliative and end-of-life care to this group of people, some of which may be reduced through advance care planning (ACP) to support people with dementia to have a greater influence on their care at end of life. ACP has been defined as a process of discussing and recording of wishes, values and preferences for future care and treatment held between an individual, family members and their care provider(s) that takes effect when the person loses capacity. The objective of this project was to involve people with dementia and their family carers in co-design of ACP guide and template to prepare for further study related to communication processes in ACP. Methods: A user-centred design process cycle of development and review was undertaken by Dementia UK which involved people with dementia, family carers, Admiral Nurses and other key stakeholders in developing an ACP guide and template. Results: Nine cyclical stages were undertaken to achieve the outcome of an ACP guide and template. Conclusion: Co-production using a user-centred design approach offers a structured and inclusive approach to developing ACP materials.
Background: Public health approaches to palliative care prioritise community-focused initiatives to support people with palliative care needs and their families. The nature and extent of these initiatives have not previously been reported. Aim: To identify community-led and/or focused initiatives that have been developed to support family carers of people with palliative care needs and for which evaluation information is reported in the empirical literature. Design: An integrative study design was undertaken using systematic methods. Data sources: CINAHL, Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, Cochrane, Sociological Abstracts, Proquest Social Science Database, and grey literature were searched using standardised search terms. Results: Two quantitative, two qualitative and two mixed method studies were identified (n = 6). All community initiatives identified were professionally led, although three had consumer input. Most aimed to improve carer psychosocial well-being and all were reported to have been beneficial. Conclusions: This integrative review identified only six community-focused and evaluated initiatives supporting family carers in the international palliative care research literature. Further evaluation is needed. However, appropriate evaluation methods and reporting require further discussion and debate between all stakeholders. Service users and communities themselves must be central to this process.
Objective In response to the well‐documented need for evidence‐based cancer caregiver support, we examined the feasibility of problem‐solving therapy for family caregivers of cancer patients receiving outpatient palliative care and investigated the impact of problem‐solving therapy on family caregivers' anxiety, depression, and quality of life. Methods We conducted a feasibility study of a structured problem‐solving therapy intervention delivered to family caregivers of cancer patients receiving outpatient palliative care from an academic health center in the Midwestern United States. Participants (N = 83) were randomly assigned to receive usual care or usual care plus a problem‐solving therapy intervention, which was delivered over three sessions via web‐based videoconferencing or telephone. Descriptive statistics were used to determine feasibility relative to recruitment, retention, and fidelity to core intervention components. Outcome data were analyzed using ordinary least squares multiple regression. Results Problem‐solving therapy for family caregivers of patients with cancer was found to be highly feasible in the outpatient palliative care setting. Caregivers who received problem‐solving therapy reported less anxiety than those who received only usual care (P = 0.03). No statistically significant differences were observed for caregiver depression (P = 0.07) or quality of life (P = 0.06). Conclusions Problem‐solving therapy is a feasible and promising approach to reducing cancer family caregivers' anxiety in the outpatient palliative care setting. Further testing in multiple sites is recommended.
Purpose Is collaborative story production (CSP) a useful method to collaborate with bereaved families to record their reflections on the end of life circumstances and care of people of advanced age? The paper aims to discuss this issue. Design/methodology/approach Drawing from Te Pākeketanga, a bicultural study involving 58 bereaved Māori and non-Māori families on behalf of 52 older relatives, the authors describe the CSP method. Researchers and participants co-created personalised written stories about the older person and their end of life experiences, supported with photographs of family, friends and memorabilia. The authors aimed to uplift the status of the older person and their family by tangibly reflecting the significance and magnitude of what had been shared and to strengthen the research analysis.Findings CSP supported member checking, promoted a robust understanding of participants’ narratives and increased the trustworthiness of data and strengthened the Kaupapa Māori and social constructivist analysis. However, some participants experienced difficulty revisiting painful memories when reading their story. CSP took longer than anticipated, was labour intensive and required a highly skilled and resourced team to ensure participants benefitted. Originality/value Using the CSP method with a bicultural cohort of bereaved families who had provided care to someone over the age of 80 was very helpful in assisting the researchers to gather narrative information and present it back to participants in a story format for their comment and feedback. The method contributed a useful way to partner with bereaved family caregivers following the death of an older family member. The authors needed a way to record the participants’ narratives of the older person’s end of life circumstances and end of life care experiences. This was very important, particularly for grieving families and indigenous families who may have felt vulnerable engaging with research, and with the research processes. The approach provided a helpful and non-intrusive member-checking process. The unique bicultural study approach deliberately utilised the CSP method to assist the researchers to work safely with bereaved families as the participants reflected upon and explored not only the end of life circumstances of the older person, but they also focused on the “death” and their own bereavement experiences. CSP also provided a helpful member-checking method; the authors were working with highly sensitive information and wanted to ensure that the authors as researchers understood and interpreted the families’ narrative data correctly, according to their perspectives.
This prospective, longitudinal study explored changes in and modifiable factors associated with high self‐perceived burden to others (SPB) among a convenience sample of 276 dyads of terminally ill Taiwanese cancer patients and their family caregivers over patients’ last year of life. High SPB was evaluated by scores ≥20 on the Self‐Perceived Burden Scale. Modifiable factors of high SPB included factors related to both patients (i.e., symptom distress, functional dependence and coping capacity) and caregivers (i.e., caregiving burden, depressive symptoms and quality of life [QOL]). Modifiable factors of high SPB were identified by multivariate logistic regression modelling with the generalised estimating equation while controlling for demographic factors. We found that patients tended to experience high SPB if they had more symptom distress. In contrast, the likelihood of high SPB was significantly lower if patients had greater coping capacity and their caregivers reported better QOL. High SPB was not associated with patients’ functional dependence, caregivers’ caregiving burden and depressive‐symptom level while providing end‐of‐life (EOL) care, and time proximity to death. Healthcare professionals may alleviate terminally ill cancer patients’ high SPB at EOL through palliative care that adequately manages patients’ physical symptom distress, enhances patients’ coping capacity and improves family caregivers’ QOL.
Objective: Family caregivers play an important role in end-of-life (EoL) decision making when the patient is unable to make his/her own decisions. While communication about EoL care between patients and family is perhaps a first step toward advance care planning (ACP)/EoL decisions, not every culture puts great value on open communication about this topic. The aims of the present study were to explore EoL communication and the aspects of communication among caregivers of Latino patients in the rural United States (U.S.)–Mexico border region. Method: This study analyzed data from a hospice needs assessment collected from 189 family caregivers of Latino patients at a home health agency in a rural U.S.–Mexico border region. Bivariate tests and logistic regression were used to address our aims. Results: About half of the family caregivers (n = 96, 50.8%) reported to have ever engaged in EoL discussion with patients. Significant predictors of EoL discussion included life-sustaining treatment preference (odds ratio [OR] = 0.44, p < 0.05); knowledge of an advance directive (AD) (OR = 5.50, p < 0.01); and distrust of physicians (OR = 0.29, p < 0.01). Caregivers who preferred extending the life of their loved one even if he/she had to rely on life supports were less likely to engage in EoL communication. Also, caregivers who worried that physicians might want to stop treatments (i.e., “pull the plug”) too soon were less likely to do so. Conversely, caregivers who had knowledge about ADs were more likely to engage in EoL communication. Significance of Results: EoL communication is a complex process influenced by individual, social, and cultural values and the beliefs of both the patient and his/her family. Inclusion of family caregivers in the ACP process and facilitating culturally tailored EoL communication between patients and family caregivers is important.
Patients with advanced cancer and family caregivers in palliative care face physical, psychological, social and existential challenges, much of the time home alone. Specialist palliative home care team services can be instrumental for sense of security in an uncertain situation. The aim of this study was to describe patients’ and family caregivers’ experiences of specialist palliative home care team actions that are identified by the participants as helping or hindering interventions. Six patients and seven family caregivers were interviewed using the enhanced critical incident technique. Ninety‐five critical incidents and wish list items were identified. Providing adequate resources, keeping promises and being reliable, and creating partnerships are actions by specialist palliative care teams that patients and family caregivers experienced as helping in meeting expressed or anticipated needs in patients and family caregivers. Being reliable and including patients and family caregivers in partnerships help to continue with daily life, even though death may be close. Unmet needs resulted in experiences of disrespect or violation of personal space/integrity.
Purpose: Understanding the concept of a "good death" is crucial to end-of-life care, but our current understanding of what constitutes a good death is insufficient. Here, we investigated the components of a good death that are important to the general population, cancer patients, their families, and physicians.; Methods: We conducted a stratified nationwide cross-sectional survey of cancer patients and their families from 12 hospitals, physicians from 12 hospitals and the Korean Medical Association, and the general population, investigating their attitudes toward 10 good-death components.; Findings: Three components-"not be a burden to the family," "presence of family," and "resolve unfinished business"-were considered the most important components by more than 2/3 of each of the three groups, and an additional three components-"freedom from pain," "feel that life was meaningful," and "at peace with God"-were considered important by all but the physicians group. Physicians considered "feel life was meaningful," "presence of family," and "not be a burden to family" as the core components of a good death, with "freedom from pain" as an additional component. "Treatment choices' followed, "finances in order," "mentally aware," and "die at home" were found to be the least important components among all four groups.; Conclusion: While families strongly agreed that "presence of family" and "not be a burden to family" were important to a good death, the importance of other factors differed between the groups. Health care providers should attempt to discern each patient's view of a good death.
Background: Family caregivers have a significant role in Thai healthcare, taking on responsibilities of health professionals. The purpose of this research was to explore Thai family caregivers' experiences of providing palliative cancer care. Methods: This qualitative study took a phenomenological approach. In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 family caregivers aged 33–72 years in a regional hospital in the north of Thailand. The data was analysed using Colaizzi's phenomenological approach. Rigour was established by following Lincoln and Guba's guidelines for qualitative research. Findings: The experiences of Thai family caregivers providing palliative cancer care could be categorised into four themes: caring as a team; caring as supportive care; taking care to keep patients happy; and caring for the self while looking after a relative. Conclusion: Health professionals can support family caregivers to deliver the best care for cancer patients and to help them decrease their stress. This study discusses ways how this may be done.
The article focuses on preventing or alleviating suffering in patients with serious illness using palliative care program. It mentions about providing effective palliative care treatment for improving quality of life for the patient and to provide support for family and caregivers; and offering hospice care to the patients related to issues such as nutrition and hydration.
Background: Research shows that formal and informal social support can facilitate resilience in carers. There is a paucity of research exploring social support and resilience amongst recently bereaved informal carers.; Aim: To examine how the presence or absence of distinct dimensions of social support facilitate or hinder resilience in recently bereaved informal carers.; Participants: 44 bereaved carers, who had been identified by GP as 'main carer' of someone recently deceased (3-12 months), aged between 38 and 87 years old (mean= 67).; Methods: Thematic analysis then the Ecological Framework of Resilience as an organisational tool to develop overarching themes in the data. We used the Sherbourne and Stewart model to identify social support that was lacking as well as social support that was present.; Results: A range of social support types were identified. There was an emphasis on the importance of relationships with both health professionals and family members, including the care recipient. However, social support was not necessary for resilience if the participant had other resources.; Conclusions: Social support for carers providing end of life care is almost exclusively based around end of life care 'work'. In comparison to other research our study suggests that relationships with family and health professionals are paramount. Multidimensional support is needed for carers to enhance their resilience.
Objective: To understand the spiritual needs of the patients' family caregiver under Oncology palliative care. Method: A descriptive, qualitative study with 20 family caregivers of patients hospitalized in an Oncology palliative unit. The data were collected through a phenomenological interview, and analyzed by the method of Amadeo Giorgi supported in the Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception. Results: The categories were unveiled: "Spirituality as a foundation for life"; "Spiritual needs sublimated by the family caregiver"; and "Care expected by the nurse". Conclusion: Family caregivers appropriate spirituality as a coping strategy and meeting the purpose and meaning of the moment experienced. It is profitable for the nurse to contemplate the spiritual needs of the caregiver in order to provide a guided assistance in the humanization of care and comprehensive care. Therefore, there is a need for new studies that address this dimension to the family caregiver in the field of Oncology, since this care is incipient by the nurse.
Background: Cutaneous T‐cell lymphomas (CTCL) are rare cancers, which can be difficult to diagnose, are incurable and adversely affect quality of life, particularly in advanced disease. Families often provide care, but little is known about their experiences or needs while caring for their relative with advanced disease or in bereavement. Objectives: To explore the experiences of bereaved family caregivers of patients with CTCL. Methods: Single, semi‐structured qualitative interviews were conducted with bereaved family caregivers of patients with CTCL recruited via a supra‐regional CTCL clinic. Transcribed interviews were analysed thematically, focusing on advanced disease, the approach of death and bereavement. Results: Fifteen carers of 11 deceased patients participated. Experiences clustered under four themes: (1) complexity of care and medical intervention; (2) caregiver roles in advanced CTCL; (3) person‐centred vs. organization‐centred care in advanced CTCL and (4) knowing and not knowing: reflections on dying, death and bereavement. Caregivers often had vivid recollections of the challenges of caring for their relative with advanced CTCL and some took on quasi‐professional roles as a result. Advanced disease made high demands on both organizational flexibility and family resources. For many caregivers, seeing disease progression was a prolonged and profoundly traumatic experience. The extent to which they were prepared for their relative's death and supported in bereavement was highly variable. Sub‐themes within each theme provide more detail about caregiver experiences. Conclusions: Family caregivers should be considered part of the wider healthcare team, acknowledging their multiple roles and the challenges they encounter in looking after their relative with CTCL as the disease progresses. Their experiences highlight the importance of organizational flexibility and of good communication between healthcare providers in advanced CTCL.
Summary: Cutaneous T‐cell lymphomas (CTCL) are rare types of skin cancer. Skin may develop tumours or ulcers. Sometimes these may cover quite large areas and feel itchy or uncomfortable. Internal body parts may be affected in more advanced disease. Only a few people are diagnosed each year (8 per million), so most GPs do not meet people with this disease. This study from the U.K. aimed to find out about the experiences of family or close friends of people who had died because of the disease (not all people with this disease die of it). Relatives of 11 patients with CTCL who had died were interviewed, four months or more after the death. The themes from what they said are described. Family members gave vivid descriptions of how the illness changed the appearance of their relative. They spoke of how difficult it was to look after someone with very damaged skin. They described the many different things they had to do to care for their relative both in hospital and at home. Some patients had frequently been in and out of hospital. Some caregivers expected them to come home each time and so had not felt prepared when their relative died. Several caregivers described how upsetting it was to see how illness affected their relative before they died. The authors say that family caregivers should be seen as part of the care team looking after the patient. They recommend that carers' needs for practical and emotional support and information should be considered during each patient's illness. Support for carers should also be offered following the death of their relative.
Aim The aim of this integrative literature review was to explore the quality of the dying and death experience in the Emergency Department from the perspective of staff and carers. Background Death in the Emergency Department is common. Understanding the quality of the death and dying experience of patients and their family members is crucial to building knowledge and improving care. Design Systematic integrative literature review reported following the PRISMA guidelines. Data sources Pubmed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Magonline (internurse), and the Cochrane library. Articles used were published in English during 1990- 2017. Review method Appraisal and thematic analysis. Results Sixteen articles are included. Eight themes emerged from the literature: care in the Emergency Department is about living not dying, staff perceive that death is a failure, staff feel underprepared to care for the dying patient and family in this environment, there is limited time for safe standards of care, staff stress and distress, staff use of distancing behaviours, the care of the dying role is devolved from medics to nurses at the end of life, and patients and staff perceive that the Emergency Department is not the preferred place of death Conclusion There are areas of concern about end of life care in the Emergency Department. To improve practice and to ensure that a good death occurs, further research is needed. There is a need to understand more about the experience of caregivers when a relative or friend dies in the Emergency Department.
Researchers have established associations between the stressors of providing informal care and caregiver health risks. Despite the negative consequences, researchers have identified the existence of protective factors that have the potential to buffer or prevent stress. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between self-efficacy and stress in adult informal caregivers providing end-of-life care. This cross-sectional, associational study analyzed data from questionnaires completed by adult informal caregivers providing end-of-life care for an adult in North Texas. Questionnaires provided measures of self-efficacy, stress, and caregiver perceived health. Findings indicated caregiver self-efficacy globally had a significant correlation with stress, whereas caregivers' confidence in caring for themselves had a significant negative relationship with perceived stress. Specifically, study findings indicate caregivers with greater confidence in managing demands of caregiving have lower levels of stress, and caregivers with greater confidence in caring for themselves, specifically, have lower levels of perceived stress. Study findings highlight the importance of caregivers' self-care needs. Health care practitioners should recognize and intervene to support caregivers' self-care needs in order to prevent additional, needless health problems in this population.
Purpose: To explore the perspectives of people anticipated to be in their last year of life, family carers, volunteers and staff on the impacts of receiving a volunteer-provided befriending service. Patient participants received up to 12 weeks of a volunteer-provided befriending intervention. Typically, this involved one visit per week from a trained volunteer. Such services complement usual care and are hoped to enhance quality of life. Methods: Multiple case study design (n = 8). Cases were end-of-life befriending services in home and community settings including UK-based hospices (n = 6), an acute hospital (n = 1) and a charity providing support to those with substance abuse issues (n = 1). Data collection incorporated qualitative thematic interviews, observation and documentary analysis. Framework analysis facilitated within and across case pattern matching. Results: Eighty-four people participated across eight sites (cases), including patients (n = 23), carers (n = 3), volunteers (n = 24) and staff (n = 34). Interview data are reported here. Two main forms of input were described-'being there' and 'doing for'. 'Being there' encapsulated the importance of companionship and the relational dynamic between volunteer and patient. 'Doing for' described the process of meeting social needs such as being able to leave the house with the volunteer. These had impacts on wellbeing with people describing feeling less lonely, isolated, depressed and/or anxious. Conclusion: Impacts from volunteer befriending or neighbour services may be achieved through volunteers taking a more practical/goal-based orientation to their role and/or taking a more relational and emotional orientation. Training of volunteers must equip them to be aware of these differing elements of the role and sensitive to when they may create most impact.Trial Registration: ISRCTN12929812.
Objective: The study's aim has been to analyze the relatives' representations of patients under palliative care. Methods: It is a descriptive research with a qualitative approach, which is based on the Serge Moscovici's Social Representation Theory. Results: The research's results showed that death is described as a final physiological stage, in other words, a technically well-ordered process of nature and the only certainty that we have in life. Moreover, death can be understood as an incomprehensive mystery, an unacceptable absurd or can be treated as a taboo or a social representation of a personal universe. Conclusion: Although a patient can be cured through standard treatment, he needs either special or palliative care.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to longitudinally explore the experiences of young adult, adult, and older adult intergenerational caregivers caring for a parent with end-stage heart failure (HF). Design: This study was a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected during a longitudinal study that sought to determine the palliative care needs of individuals with end-stage HF and their family caregivers. Methods: Longitudinal interviews from 23 young adult, adult, and older adult children who were caring for a parent with end-stage HF were selected for thematic analysis. Researchers individually analyzed the interviews and then, as a group, came to a consensus about themes. Findings: Five major themes were identified: caregiver resources, role management, caregiver–parent relationships, filial responsibility , and personal benefits and challenges. Conclusions: These intergenerational caregivers struggled to balance their busy lives and caregiving roles. However, most felt supported by other family members or external resources. Longitudinal findings support a need for improved employer-based support for intergenerational caregivers and special attention to young carers in research and practice. Recognition of and advocacy for intergenerational caregivers providing care for a chronically ill parent is needed.
Background Family carers of people living and dying with dementia experience grief. The prevalence, predictors and associated factors of grief in this population have been identified, and psychosocial interventions to decrease grief symptoms have been implemented. However, the effect of psychosocial interventions on family carers’ grief, loss or bereavement has not been examined. Objective To synthesize the existing evidence regarding the impact of psychosocial interventions to assist adjustment to grief, pre- and post-bereavement, for family carers of people with dementia. Inclusion criteria Types of participants Family carers of older persons with dementia (>65 years). Types of interventions Psychosocial interventions in health and social care facilities, and community settings designed to assist family carers adjust to grief during the dementia trajectory and/or following death. Comparisons No treatment, standard care or treatment as usual, or an alternative intervention. Types of studies Experimental and epidemiological study designs. Outcomes Grief in family carers including anticipatory, complicated and prolonged grief disorder measured with validated instruments. Search strategy A three-step strategy sought to identify both published and unpublished studies from 1995. Methodological quality Assessed by two independent reviewers using standardized critical appraisal tools from the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instrument (JBI-MAStARI). Data extraction The standardized data extraction tool from JBI-MAStARI was used by two reviewers independently. Data synthesis Statistical pooling of results was not possible due to the heterogeneity of the interventions and the outcome measures. Results Data were extracted from three studies. Study designs were a randomized controlled trial; a pre-test, multiple posttest quasi-experimental; and a single group, repeated measures. The interventions were multi-component, had durations of nine to 26 weeks and were delivered while care recipients were alive. All studies were undertaken in the United States. There were 327 family carers, of which 197 received a psychosocial intervention. Family carers were predominantly female (84.7%), Caucasian (73.4%) and caring for their spouse (44.3%). All care recipients had dementia; 68.5% had Alzheimer’s disease. Two studies measured anticipatory grief, and the third study reported normal and complicated grief. Moderate benefits to anticipatory grief were evident upon completion of the “Easing the Way” intervention (effect size -0.43, P = 0.03). After controlling for research design and control variables, for every hour increase in the interventions focusing on family carers’ cognitive skills, there were associated decreases in carers’ normal grief (parameter estimate [PE]= -0.81, P = 0.02) and complicated grief (PE=-0.87, P = 0.03). For every hour increase in the interventions focusing on carer behavior, there was an associated decrease in carers’ complicated grief (PE = -1.32, P = 0.04). For every hour increase in the interventions focusing on care recipient behavior, there was an associated decrease in carers’ complicated grief (PE = -2.91, P = 0.04). Conclusion There is little evidence upon which to base practice with regard to interventions to reduce any aspects of grief. Findings suggest that different pre-death interventions might be warranted depending upon a family carer’s unique clinical presentation and combination of risk factors. Cognitive skills training provided while the care recipient is alive may positively impact normal and complicated grief following the death of the care recipient. When the cognitive skills training is provided in conjunction with behaviorally oriented interventions that improve the wellbeing of the carer and care recipient, carers’ complicated grief symptoms may be reduced.
Many studies reveal a gender gap in spousal care during late life. However, this gap could be an artifact of methodological limitations (small and unrepresentative cross-sectional samples). Using a data set that overcomes these limitations, we re-examine the question of gender differences in spousal care and housework adjustment when a serious illness occurs.We use biannual waves between 2001 and 2015 of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study and growth curve analyses. We follow couples longitudinally (identified in the household questionnaire) to analyze shifts in spousal care hours and housework plus errand hours that occur as a response to the spousal care need. We test for interactions with levels of care need and with gender.We found that men increase their care hours as much as women do, resulting in similar care hours. They also increase their housework and errand hours more than women do. Yet at lower levels of spousal care need, women still do more housework and errands because they spent more time doing housework before the illness. Even in a context of children’s decreasing availability to care for parents, male spouses assume the required caregiving role in systems relying on a mixture of public and private care.
Background: Approaching end of life is often a time of vulnerability; this is particularly so for people with dementia and their families where loss of capacity and the ability to communicate, make assessment and shared decision-making difficult. Research has consistently shown that improvements in care and services are required to support better quality and more person-centred care for people with dementia towards and at end of life. However, the views of people with dementia about what factors contribute to high-quality care at this time are a neglected area. Aim: The aim of this study was to identify the aspects of end-of-life care for people with dementia that are most important to them and their carers. Design: Q-methodology, a mixed method combining qualitative and quantitative techniques to study subjectivity, was used to identify the views of people with mild dementia, their family carers and bereaved carers on end-of-life care for people with dementia. Fifty-seven participants were included in the study. Results: Four distinct views were identified: family involvement, living in the present, pragmatic expectations and autonomy and individuality. Some areas of consensus across all views included compassionate care, decisions being made by healthcare professionals and information availability when making decisions. Conclusion: Our findings reveal several different views on what is important about end-of-life care for people with dementia; therefore, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to care is unlikely to be most appropriate. Notwithstanding the differing viewpoints could provide a framework for service providers and commissioners for future care.
Caring for someone with dementia is one of the most challenging caring roles; however, the demands of the role towards the end of life often mean carers are unable to maintain face-to-face support. The aim of this study was to: (a) Explore the experiences of older (over 65 years) family carers of people with dementia of support towards the end of life; (b) Explore with family carers the role of the internet as a support for them at the end of life. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, with purposive sampling from general practice and research networks to recruit 20 current and former family carers aged 65 and over in England (2016–2017). Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis. An overarching theme of the “separation of worlds” (the internal caring world and the outside world of society) was identified, with four sub themes: (a) the support role of relationships and social networks; (b) loss as a consequence of caring; (c) reconstruction of life as a carer; and finally; (d) life within and beyond the computer screen. This study demonstrates the complexity of social support at the end of life for family carers depicted in a model of two worlds. The internet can be seen as a viable approach to help carers maintain existing networks, reconstruct networks they have lost or developing new networks to meet their new needs and circumstances as a carer. Future support interventions should focus on a mixed model of technology and human interaction.
Background: There are an increasing number of people living with dementia, as well as an expectation that care decisions are made collaboratively with those with the disease entering the end stage and their families. This has increased the burden on family carers. Aim: To explore the evidence on the decisional support needs of informal carers of people with end-stage dementia. Design: A rapid scoping review was undertaken of peer-reviewed publications between 2000 and 2016, which included all health-care settings and the person's own home. Six databases were searched (CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, BNI, PSYCHINFO, Web of Science) and all papers meeting the inclusion criteria were read. A thematic analysis was undertaken of the selected papers using a pragmatic approach based on how the papers addressed the research question. Results: Sixty papers were individually appraised, with 40 being included in the review. Of these papers, 11 were literature reviews and 29 were primary studies. The themes identified were: the influential factors in carer decision making, the scope of carer decision making, the conflicts/problems in carer decision making, the resources carers need to make decisions and the impact of carer decision making. Conclusion: To date, the emphasis in dementia care has been on living well with dementia, but realistically there is a need to plan for a 'good death' that includes the person and their carers. There is a need to support people with dementia and their carers to make an advance care plan, while the person with dementia can take part in the decision-making process. This proactive intervention is likely to reduce carer decision burden at end of life and facilitate achievement of death in the person's preferred place, which is usually the home or care home.
Background: the need for palliative and end of life care for the oldest old is growing rapidly. Family carers often report they do not feel well supported; for better practice and policy, we need better understanding of their experiences and how to support them. Design and setting: people in the LiLACS NZ longitudinal study of advanced age identified a carer to be interviewed after their death. Nominated caregivers were contacted 3–6 months after an older person’s death and invited to take part in the current study. Subjects: fifty-eight interviews were conducted with carers of 52 people in advanced age, 20 Maori and 32 non-Maori. The majority of the 58 carers were in their 60 s and were women. Methods: guided-conversation interviews covered end of life preferences and experiences, needs and gaps in support, arrangements after death, and experiences of bereavement. Rigorous data analysis included multiple researchers identifying and interrogating themes across and within: the transcripts, and feedback and discussion with participants. Results: we identify a typology of nine categories of care, and argue that the support and care provided by family should be understood as going beyond simple task-based transactions. We present a model of end of life care describing and explaining inter-related aspects of knowing, doing and negotiating care tasks. Conclusions: this work furthers current understandings of care, as multifaceted and negotiated. This has very practical implications for thinking about how best to support the complex end of life caregiving work of people caring for a person in advanced age.
Purpose of the Study: Adult daughters providing care to aging, ill mothers comprise the most prevalent caregiving dyad. Little is known, however, regarding relationship quality and its impact on care in these dyads, particularly in the context of cognitively intact patients at end of life in hospice. This interpretive descriptive work privileges voices of terminally ill mothers and care-partnering daughters in the home hospice context. Specific aims were to describe and interpret how mothers and daughters: (a) perceive relationship quality and (b) perceive how relationships have developed over time through health, chronic illness, and hospice. Design and Methods: Semi-structured interviews were used to explore interdependent perceptions of relationship quality in 10 terminally-ill mother–adult daughter care dyads. A novel method of qualitative dyadic analysis was developed to analyse dyads in close parallel at both individual/descriptive and dyadic/interpretive levels, staying true to qualitative rigor. Results: A relationship quality spectrum emerged, from Close Friendship to Doing My Duty dyads. Women in Close Friendships revealed concordant narratives and emotionally satisfying relationships; women in neutral or troubled relationships revealed discordant relational stories. In these latter dyads, mothers reported more positive narratives; daughters spoke of relational problems. Implications: This work suggests deeper exploration of mother–daughter dyads within the hospice context and interventions at both individual and dyadic levels to serve relational needs of the dying and their families. The qualitative dyadic approach also offers utility for relational investigations of any dyad.
Objectives: Pre-death grief plays a significant role in dementia caregiving, and has adverse impacts on caregivers. It was the purpose of the present study to examine whether a cognitive-behavioural intervention including a grief intervention module could increase caregivers’ coping with pre-death grief and whether these effects could be maintained as of a six-month follow-up assessment. Method: In a randomized-controlled trial examining the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioural intervention, 273 caregivers were allocated to either an intervention or control group. Intervention group participants received 12 therapy sessions over six months; all participants completed a measure of pre-death grief. The analysis was conducted using latent change models. In the first model, study group was included as a predictor of change in pre-death grief; subsequent models also included care situation and sociodemographic variables. Results: The burden due to pre-death grief was reduced for intervention but not control group participants at the time of the six-month follow-up assessment (Cohen's d = −0.361). When controlling for changes in the care situation and sociodemographic variables, the treatment effect was also found in the assessment completed post intervention (Cohen's d = −0.248). Conclusion: Results indicate that a cognitive-behavioural intervention including grief-specific strategies can successfully foster caregivers’ coping with loss and reduce burden of pre-death grief.
Background: A UK charity, Macmillan Cancer Support has funded a local intervention, whereby carers of people affected by cancer and other long-term conditions at end of life are offered a bespoke package of support. Aim: This short report describes the qualitative experiences of carers in receipt of the intervention. Design: Qualitative research utilising in-depth interviews. Discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Setting/participants: Participants were carers (n = 10) in receipt of the intervention. Interviews were conducted between August and September 2014 in Lincolnshire (England). Results: Five themes from the interviews were identified: (1) Awareness and advertising, (2) focus of support on the carer, (3) modes of communication, (4) personal attributes and skills of the support worker (5) streamlining and signposting. Conclusion: The intervention was successful within a social care setting. The participants had no overtly negative opinions on the service in its current format and all held it in high regard. Carers felt a sense of reassurance from having background support and maintained that their situation would have been worse had this support not been there.
Background: Refractory breathlessness in advanced chronic disease leads to high levels of disability, anxiety and social isolation. These result in high health-resource use, although this is not quantified. Aims: To measure the cost of care for patients with advanced disease and refractory breathlessness and to identify factors associated with high costs. Design: A cross-sectional secondary analysis of data from a randomised controlled trial. Setting/participants: Patients with advanced chronic disease and refractory breathlessness recruited from three National Health Service hospitals and via general practitioners in South London. Results: Of 105 patients recruited, the mean cost of formal care was £3253 (standard deviation £3652) for 3 months. The largest contributions to formal-care cost were hospital admissions (>60%), and palliative care contributed <1%. When informal care was included, the total cost increased by >250% to £11,507 (standard deviation £9911). Increased patient disability resulting from breathlessness was associated with high cost (£629 per unit increase in disability score; p = 0.006). Increased breathlessness on exertion and the presence of an informal carer were also significantly associated with high cost. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease tended to have higher healthcare costs than other patients. Conclusion: Informal carers contribute significantly to the care of patients with advanced disease and refractory breathlessness. Disability resulting from breathlessness is an important clinical cost driver. It is important for policy makers to support and acknowledge the contributions of informal carers. Further research is required to assess the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of palliative care interventions in reducing disability resulting from breathlessness in this patient group.
Background: Globally, most care for people with life-limiting illnesses is provided by informal caregivers. Identifying characteristics of caregivers that may have unmet needs and negative outcomes can help provide better support to facilitate adjustment. Aim: The authors compared characteristics, expressed unmet needs and outcomes for spousal caregivers, with other caregivers at the end of life, by gender and age. Design: The South Australian Health Omnibus is an annual, random, face-to-face, cross-sectional survey wherein respondents are asked about end-of-life care. Setting/participants: Participants were aged over 15 years, resided in households in South Australia and had someone close to them die from a terminal illness in the last 5 years. Results: Of the 1540 respondents who provided hands-on care for someone close at the end of life, 155 were widows/widowers. Bereaved spousal caregivers were more likely to be older, female, better educated, have lower incomes, less full-time work, English as second language, sought help with grief and provided more day-to-day care for longer periods. Spousal caregivers were less likely to be willing to take on caregiving again, less able to ‘move on’ with life and needed greater emotional support and information about illness and services. The only difference between widows and widowers was older age of spouse in women. Younger spousal caregivers perceived greater unmet emotional needs and were significantly less likely to be able to ‘move on’. Conclusion: Spousal caregivers are different from other caregivers, with more intense needs that are not fully met. These have implications for bereavement, health and social services.
Background: People with dementia have been described as the ‘disadvantaged dying’ with poor end-of-life care. Towards the end of life, people with dementia cannot report on the care they receive. It is therefore important to talk to caregivers; however, few have explored the views about end-of-life care from the caregivers’ perspective. The majority of research on family caregivers has focussed on the burden and psychological impact of caring for a relative with dementia. Aim: This study aimed to explore the views of family caregivers about quality end-of-life care for people with dementia. Design: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews and analysed using thematic analysis. Setting/participants: Purposive sampling from a third sector organisation’s caregiver network was used to recruit 47 caregivers in England (2012–2013), consisting of (1) family caregivers of someone who had recently received a diagnosis of dementia, (2) family caregivers currently caring for someone with dementia and (3) bereaved family caregivers. Results: Three over-arching themes were derived from the interviewees’ discourse, including maintaining the person within, fostering respect and dignity and showing compassion and kindness. Conclusion: End-of-life care for people with dementia does not differ from care throughout the dementia trajectory. Throughout the findings, there is an implicit underlying theme of conflict: conflict between family caregivers and an increasingly systematised service of care and conflict between family caregivers and professionals. This study has in particular demonstrated the importance of the psycho-social aspects of care, aligning with the holistic definition of palliative care.
To date, knowledge of the experiences of older adults' caregivers at the end of life has come from studies that were limited to specific diseases and so-called primary caregivers and that relied on the recollections of people in convenience samples. Using nationally representative, prospective data for 2011, we found that 900,000 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries ages sixty-five and older who died within the following twelve months received support from 2.3 million caregivers. Nearly nine in ten of these caregivers were unpaid. Compared to other caregivers, end-of-life caregivers provided nearly twice as many hours of care per week and, especially in the case of spousal caregivers, reported more care-related challenges. Yet older adults at the end of life were not significantly more likely than other older adults to receive caregiving funded by government, state, or private insurance. To meet the needs of older adults at the end of life, their unpaid caregivers must receive greater recognition and expanded access to supportive services.
Family caregivers are an integral and increasingly overburdened part of the health care system. There is a gap between what research evidence shows is beneficial to caregivers and what is actually provided. Using an integrated knowledge translation approach, a stakeholder meeting was held among researchers, family caregivers, caregiver associations, clinicians, health care administrators, and policy makers. The objectives of the meeting were to review current research evidence and conduct multi-stakeholder dialogue on the potential gaps, facilitators, and barriers to the provision of caregiver supports. A two-day meeting was attended by 123 individuals. Three target populations of family caregivers were identified for discussion: caregivers of seniors with dementia, caregivers in end-of-life care, and caregivers of frail seniors with complex health needs. The results of this meeting can and are being used to inform the development of implementation research endeavours and policies targeted at providing evidence-informed caregiver supports.
Context. Increased life expectancy, technical advances in treatment and symptom control, and the extension of palliative care in community settings not only lengthen life but also make it possible for many patients to be cared for, and to die, at home. Moreover, death increasingly occurs in late old age and after a prolonged period of comorbidity and/or frailty. This has far-reaching consequences for the way that professional services are resourced and organized and for the informal carers who are often responsible for providing the greater part of patient care, including management of complex medication regimes. Objectives. To explore the literature focused on family caregivers' (FCGs) experiences of medication management for patients being cared for and dying at home. Methods. This literature review takes a critical interpretive synthesis approach to the review of 15 identified articles. Results. Findings show that FCGs can struggle to manage medications for someone who is dying at home, yet there is an expectation that they will take on these roles and are often judged by professional standards. Five key themes identified particular issues around administration, organizational skills, empowerment, relationships, and support. Conclusion. As increasing demands are placed on FCGs, there remains limited acknowledgment or understanding of the challenges they face, how they cope, or could be best supported. Alongside training, FCGs need access to 24 hours of support and medication reviews to rationalize unnecessary medications. Furthermore, the ethical challenges arising from administering medicines at the end of life also need to be acknowledged and discussed.
Objective: Patients with incurable cancer and their informal caregivers have numerous psychological and psychosocial needs. Many of these patients wish to receive their care and die at home. Few home-based specialized palliative care (SPC) interventions systematically integrate psychological support. We present a psychological intervention for patient–caregiver dyads developed for an ongoing randomized controlled trial (RCT) of home-based SPC, known as Domus, as well as the results of an assessment of its acceptability and feasibility. Method: The Domus model of SPC for patients with incurable cancer and their caregivers offered systematic psychological assessment and dyadic intervention as part of interdisciplinary care. Through accelerated transition to SPC, the aim of the model was to enhance patients' chances of receiving care and dying at home. Integration of psychological support sought to facilitate this goal by alleviating distress in patients and caregivers. Psychologists provided needs-based sessions based on existential-phenomenological therapy. Feasibility and acceptability were investigated by examining enrollment, nonparticipation, and completion of psychological sessions. Results: Enrollment in the RCT and uptake of the psychological intervention indicated that it was feasible and acceptable to patients and caregivers. The strengths of the intervention included its focus on dyads, psychological distress, and existential concerns, as well as interdisciplinary collaboration and psychological interventions offered according to need. Its main limitation was a lack of an intervention for other family members. Significance of Results: Our results show that psychological intervention can be systematically integrated into SPC and that it appears feasible to provide dyadic needs-based sessions with an existential therapeutic approach. The Domus RCT will provide evidence of the efficacy of a novel model of multidisciplinary SPC
Background: Family carers provide vital support for patients towards end-of-life, but caregiving has considerable impact on carers’ own health. The scale of this problem is unknown, as previous research has involved unrepresentative samples or failed to fully capture caregiving close to death. Aim: To quantify level of psychological morbidity and general health among a census sample of carers of people with cancer at end-of-life, compared to population reference data. Design: National 4-month post-bereavement postal census survey of family carers of people who died from cancer, retrospectively measuring carers’ psychological health (General Health Questionnaire-12) and general health (EuroQoL EQ-Visual Analogue Scale) during the patient’s last 3 months of life. Participants: N = 1504 (28.5%) of all 5271 people who registered the death of a relative from cancer in England during 2 weeks in 2015 compared with data from the Health Survey for England 2014 (N = 6477–6790). Results: Psychological morbidity at clinically significant levels (General Health Questionnaire-12 ⩾4) was substantially higher among carers than the general population (83% vs 15%), with prevalence five to seven times higher across all age groups. Overall, carers’ general health scores were lower than population scores, median 75 (interquartile range, 50–80) versus 80 (interquartile range, 70–90), but differences were more marked at younger ages. Female carers had worse psychological morbidity and general health than male carers. Conclusion: Levels of psychological morbidity among family carers during end-of-life caregiving are far higher than indicated by previous research, indicating a substantial public health problem. Consistent assessment and support for carers to prevent breakdown in caregiving may produce cost savings in long term.
Surveys indicate that many Australians would prefer to die at home, but relatively few do. Recognising that patients and their families may not have the support they need to enable end‐of‐life care at home, a consortium of care providers developed, and received funding to trial, the Palliative Care Home Support Program (PCHSP) across seven health districts in New South Wales, Australia. The programme aimed to supplement end‐of‐life care in the home provided by existing multidisciplinary community palliative care teams, with specialist supportive community care workers (CCWs). An evaluation of the service was undertaken, focussing on the self‐reported impact of the service on family carers (FCs), with triangulation of findings from community palliative care teams and CCWs. Service evaluation data were obtained through postal surveys and/or qualitative interviews with FCs, community palliative care teams and CCWs. FCs also reported the experience of their loved one based on 10 items drawn from the Quality of Death and Dying Questionnaire (QODD). Thematic analysis of surveys and interviews found that the support provided by CCWs was valued by FCs for: enabling choice (i.e. to realise end‐of‐life care in the home); providing practical assistance (“hands‐on”); and for emotional support and reassurance. This was corroborated by community palliative care teams and CCWs. Responses by FCs on the QODD items indicated that in the last week of life, effective control of symptoms was occurring and quality of life was being maintained. This study suggests that satisfactory outcomes for patients and their families who wish to have end‐of‐life care in the home can be enabled with the additional support of specially trained CCWs. A notable benefit of the PCHSP model, which provided specific palliative care vocational training to an existing community care workforce, was a relatively rapid increase in the palliative care workforce across the state.
Background: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has an uncertain and rapid trajectory after diagnosis. Palliative care is rarely utilized, although both patients and caregivers experience a distressingly high symptom burden. Most patients die in hospital. Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore bereaved caregivers’ experiences and perceptions of an early integrated palliative approach implemented at a Multidisciplinary Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic. Design: A narrative approach was used, with thematic and content analysis of open-ended interviews. Setting/participants: The clinic is located in a large western Canadian city. Caregivers of deceased patients were recruited through purposive sampling. The eight participants were either spouses or adult children. Results: Five major themes were identified: Having a Terminal Disease; Planning Goals and Wishes for Care; Living Life and Creating Memories; Feeling Strain and Responsibility; and Nearing the End. Caregivers had little understanding of prognosis prior to advance care planning conversations at the clinic. Advance care planning conversations enabled caregivers to know and support patients’ goals and wishes. Caregivers described feeling informed, prepared, and supported when death was near. They expressed neither distress nor anxiety related to patients’ symptoms or strain of relationships. Conclusion: Collaboration and close communication among caregivers, respirologists, and home care enabled effective symptom management and out of hospital deaths. Patients and caregivers had opportunities to enjoy events, create memories, determine preferences, and make plans. Further research on an early integrated palliative approach in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is warranted related to quality of life, experience with death and dying, and caregiver bereavement.
This text is one of the first comprehensive resources on understanding and working with families in the intensive care unit. The text provides a conceptual overview of the Family ICU Syndrome, a constellation of physical morbidity, psychopathology, cognitive deficits, and conflict. Outlining its mechanisms, the book presents a guide to combating the syndrome with an interdisciplinary team. The text represents the full array of the interdisciplinary team by also spotlighting administrative considerations for health care management and approaches to training different members of the health care team. Family voices are featured prominently in the text as well. The book also addresses the complete trajectory of needs of care, including survivorship and end-of-life care. Written by experts in the field, Families in the Intensive Care Unit: A Guide to Understanding, Engaging and Supporting at the Bedside is a state-of-the-art reference for all clinicians who work with families in the ICU.
Objectives: The objective of the study is to explore current practice and the role taken by UK memory services in helping carers of people with dementia prepare for the end of life. Methods: We used mixed methods including a survey (48 responses/51% response rate) and semistructured interviews (n = 12) with clinicians working in UK memory services accredited by the Memory Services National Accreditation Programme. We used descriptive statistics to report survey findings and thematically analysed interview and survey qualitative data. Results: Surveys: services routinely discussed with carers the progressive nature of dementia (89%), legal arrangements (health: 72%; finances: 74%), advance care planning (63%), and implications of loss of capacity (61%). Fewer services routinely discussed the terminal nature of dementia (41%) and meaning of death (11%) with carers. Most (89%) agreed that these conversations were in line with their role. Interview findings corresponded with survey findings. Themes included diagnosis considered too early to discuss end of life, discussions being inconsistent with a “living well” approach, people with dementia being resistant to conversations, and discussions of spirituality crossing professional boundaries. Services' capacity for follow‐up with carers impacted on ability to broach these topics. Conclusions: More in‐depth and distressing topics such as end of life and advance care planning require longer follow‐up to establish relationships to broach difficult topics. Variability in follow‐up practices between services created inequity in the extent to which memory services could address these topics. More research is required to investigate the best method for broaching these topics with carers and the person with mild dementia within different health care contexts.
Aim: To explore specialist and generalist palliative care provision for people with non‐malignant respiratory disease, in rural and urban areas in the North and Republic of Ireland. Background: Globally, palliative care is recommended as an appropriate healthcare option for people with advanced non‐malignant lung disease. Yet, there is limited evidence regarding the integration of palliative care for this client group. Design: Qualitative study. Methods: Convenience sample of 17 bereaved carers and 18 healthcare professionals recruited from two rural and two urban sites on the Island of Ireland. Data were collected throughout 2012 and 2013 through semi‐structured interviews with carers of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (N = 12), interstitial lung disease (N = 4) or bronchiectasis (N = 1) who had died 3–18 months previously; and four focus groups with healthcare professionals. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis framework. Results: Carers’ interviews yielded three overarching themes: (1) lack of preparedness for death, due to ambiguity regarding disease trajectory; (2) lack of consistency in palliative care delivery, in relation with the receipt of generalist and specialist palliative care; and (3) role ambiguity, related to their caregiving role. Focus groups identified two overarching themes: (1) barriers to appropriate palliative care; and (2) the future direction of palliative care for patient with non‐malignant respiratory disease. Conclusion: The uncertain disease trajectory was not only experienced by carers but also healthcare professionals. Although referral to specialist palliative care services was perceived as increasing, the availability and coordination of generalist and specialist palliative care services were fragmented and varied dependent on geographical location.
Background: Carers of people with advanced cancer play a significant role in managing pain medication, yet they report insufficient information and support to do so confidently and competently. There is limited research evidence on the best ways for clinicians to help carers with medication management. Aims: To develop a pain medicines management intervention (Cancer Carers Medicines Management) for cancer patients’ carers near the end of life and evaluate feasibility and acceptability to nurses and carers. To test the feasibility of trial research procedures and to inform decisions concerning a full-scale randomised controlled trial. Design: Phase I-II clinical trial. A systematic, evidence-informed participatory method was used to develop CCMM: a nurse-delivered structured conversational process. A two-arm, cluster randomised controlled feasibility trial of Cancer Carers Medicines Management was conducted, with an embedded qualitative study to evaluate participants’ experiences of Cancer Carers Medicines Management and trial procedures. Setting: Community settings in two study sites. Participants: Phase I comprises 57 carers, patients and healthcare professionals and Phase II comprises 12 nurses and 15 carers. Results: A novel intervention was developed. Nurses were recruited and randomised. Carer recruitment to the trial was problematic with fewer than predicted eligible participants, and nurses judged a high proportion unsuitable to recruit into the study. Attrition rates following recruitment were typical for the study population. Cancer Carers Medicines Management was acceptable to carers and nurses who took part, and some benefits were identified. Conclusion: Cancer Carers Medicines Management is a robustly developed medicines management intervention which merits further research to test its effectiveness to improve carers’ management of pain medicines with patients at the end of life. The study highlighted aspects of trial design that need to be considered in future research.
Background Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative condition characterized by declining functional and cognitive abilities. The quality of end of life care for people with dementia in the UK can be poor. Several difficult decisions may arise at the end of life, relating to the care of the person with dementia, for example management of comorbidities. Objective To explore difficulties in decision making for practitioners and family carers at the end of life for people with dementia. Design Qualitative methodology using focus groups and semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis methods. Settings and participants Former (n=4) and current (n=6) family carers of people with experience of end of life care for a person with dementia were recruited from an English dementia voluntary group in 2015. A further 24 health and care professionals were purposively sampled to include a broad range of expertise and experience in dementia end of life care. Results Four key themes were identified as follows: challenges of delivering coherent care in dynamic systems; uncertainty amongst decision makers; internal and external conflict amongst decision makers; and a lack of preparedness for the end of life. Overarching difficulties such as poor communication, uncertainty and conflict about the needs of the person with dementia as well as the decision maker's own role can characterize decision making at the end of life. Conclusions This study suggests that decision making at the end of life for people with dementia has the potential to be improved. More planning earlier in the course of dementia with an on-going approach to conversation may increase preparedness and family carers' expectations of end of life.
As the incidence of dementia is increasing, so health and social care professionals are facing a challenge to deliver good quality end-of-life care. Historically, it is not an area that has been afforded much attention until recently, but interventions such as Admiral Nursing are well placed and equipped to work with and support families at this time. It is essential, in supporting a family to live as well as they can following a diagnosis of dementia, to facilitate dying well with or from dementia. This article uses a case study approach, combined with professional reflective practice, to explore the importance of good communication in the last few months, weeks and days of life in a family affected by dementia.
Informal family caregivers make a significant contribution to the U.S. health care system, and the need for caregivers will likely increase. Gaining deeper insights into the caregiver experience will provide essential knowledge needed to support the future caregiver workforce delivering care. Discourse analysis is a viable approach in analyzing textual caregiver data that focuses on the end-of-life caregiving experience. The purpose of this study was to conduct an in-depth discourse analytic examination of 13 hours of caregiver interview data, which reveal the multiplicity of shifting stances and perceptions of one caregiver in the midst of end-of-life care, specifically with regard to his perceptions of self (caregiver) and other (care recipient). By isolating a specific but limited set of reference terms used throughout the discourse, we gained systematic glimpses into the mind and perceptions of this single caregiver in relation to his role as caregiver for his terminally ill wife.
Carers have a vital role in end of life care in all settings. They are essential in enabling people to live at home at the end of their lives. Carers give and receive care, and have a range of support needs related to this complex role. This article explores the context of caring at the end of life and considers the experience of carers, in particular those who have a non-professional and unpaid relationship with someone who is at the end of life, and the support they require.
In the global south where care services are sparse and familial care remains practically and socially important, end of life care often occurs within families. Furthermore, in health care related policy development, care is often assumed to be ensured by ‘traditional’ norms of extended family relationships. In this context, the demands of providing care may require care providers to relocate, as well as reorganize their everyday responsibilities. This article contributes to geographies of care by offering an examination of the mobility constraints experienced by married and externally-resident daughters seeking to provide end of life care to a parent in northern Ghana. Drawing on ethnographic research, I examine how particular familial relationships are embedded with socially constructed labour obligations, leading to conflicting responsibilities at a parent’s end of life. I then consider how a woman as a daughter works to overcome these constraints to provide end of life care. I conclude that understanding the mobility of care providers can contribute to avoiding potentially damaging assumptions of ‘traditional’ norms of care and is an important consideration towards understanding the geographies of care in the rural global south.
Objectives Family conflict has several adverse impacts on caregivers. Thus, there is significant value in determining the prevalence and predictors of family conflict, which can enable the health care provider to intervene if family conflict arises during end-of-life care. Accordingly, we aimed to explore the prevalence and predictors of conflict among the families of patients with advanced cancer who died in palliative care units. Methods This study was a nationwide multicenter questionnaire survey of bereaved family members of cancer patients who died in Japanese palliative care units participating in evaluation of the quality of end-of-life care. Results We sent out 764 questionnaires, and 529 questionnaires (69.2%) were returned. As 70 family members refused to participate and we could not identify the answers in one questionnaire, we analyzed a total of 458 responses. The average Outcome-Family Conflict score was 13.5 ± 4.9 (maximum score: 39.5), and 42.2% of family members reported at least one family conflict during end-of-life care. Greater family conflict was significantly associated with younger family age, with family members asserting control over decision making for patient care and with communication constraints among family members, although absent family members "coming out of the woodwork" reduced family conflict. Conclusions Many families of patients with advanced cancer experienced conflict during end-of-life care. Family members asserting control over decision making and communication constraints among family members after diagnosis of cancer can predict the occurrence of family conflict. Absent family members "coming out of the woodwork" might reduce family conflict in particular cultures.
Background It is widely reported that carers who provide care for a family member with dementia endure physical and psychological burdens. Not only do they fulfil an important role for the person with dementia but also for the wider society. This study aims to explore the experiences of carers who provide end-of-life care for a person with late-stage dementia at home. Method Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 current carers and 6 past carers of a family member with late-stage dementia. Data was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results Four super-ordinate themes were identified which described the challenges faced by carers at different stages of their care giving journey: (1) The experience of dementia grief (2) Parenting the parent (3) Seeking support (4) Death, dying and life after death. Conclusion Dementia grief was experienced by carers as a result of a relationship change and an inability to recognise the person with dementia as their mother, father or spouse. A role transition ensued resulting in the carer adopting the role of parent. Carers expressed a desire to provide care for the person with dementia at home until the time of death however, support is required in this area at both individual and community level. Family carers require education to help identify the dying phase which will assist to minimise the shock of death. Strong evidence suggests that the burden of care may leave family carers poorly equipped to adapt to life after the death of the person with dementia. Greater pre-death support is required to facilitate a better post bereavement adjustment.
Background: Pain management is a challenging task for family caregivers in home hospice care. However, there are limited studies that examine the challenges regarding pain management in hospice care from family caregivers’ perspectives. Objectives: To identify the challenges related to pain management faced by family caregivers in hospice care and to examine the validity of an existing framework that outlines pain management challenges for hospice family caregivers. Design: We conducted a theory-driven, deductive content analysis of secondary data obtained from hospice family caregivers’ interviews from a randomized clinical trial. Setting/Participants: We included baseline interviews of 15 hospice caregivers of patients from hospice agencies in the States of Washington. The majority of the participants were white and female caregivers. They were spouse/partner or adult child living with the patient. Results: The study identified 5 out of the 6 major themes in the original framework and confirmed that hospice family caregivers face a variety of challenges: caregiver-centric issues, caregiver’s medication skills and knowledge, communication and teamwork, organizational skill, and patient-centric issues. A couple of the subthemes in the original framework were not present in our findings. We also expanded the original framework by adding 1 subtheme and revised 2 definitions in the original framework. Conclusion: The study provided an investigation on hospice family caregivers’ difficulties in pain management. The results can inform health-care providers and researchers of family caregivers’ challenges and provide insights for future designs of educational tools targeting pain management strategies, so that family caregivers can perform pain management effectively at home.
Background: Although people with dementia receive substantial care from informal sources, there is limited research available that investigates how these carers experience end-of-life care. Aim: This review aimed to identify what is currently known about carers’ experiences of providing end-of-life care to a family member or friend with dementia and draw implications for palliative care policy and service provision. Design: A scoping literature review was conducted, first using a targeted key word search, followed by assessments of eligibility based on title and then abstract content. Data sources: Records were sourced through PsycINFO, PubMed and CINAHL databases. Peer-reviewed papers published between 2000 and 2016, reporting on data collected directly from carers, were included for review. Results: Carers’ experience centred on relationships (with care recipients, family and friends and health care professionals) and the specific context of caring for someone with dementia. These broad categories of carers’ experiences had clear influences on them personally, particularly in relation to their sense of self and their wellbeing. Conclusion: Palliative care services would benefit from ensuring holistic approaches to supporting people with dementia, their carers and wider family networks. Tailoring services to the specific context of dementia would enable effective, personalised support throughout extended periods leading up to care recipient death as well as through the challenges faced beyond bereavement.
Background: Family carers manage a wide range of responsibilities in the lives and care of patients receiving palliative care. They fulfil multiple roles and perform activities within different settings. This has immediate consequences on family carers’ every-day lives. According to literature, family carers in palliative care are both part of the formal and informal care network, but also persons in need of support. This article aims to investigate 1) burdens and rewards associated with family caregiving and 2) what family carers find helpful in their contact with professionals from integrated palliative care initiatives (IPC-i) and other services. Methods: Family carers looking after patients with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or chronic heart failure were purposefully recruited at 22 IPC-i in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the course of the project “Patient-centred palliative care pathways in advanced cancer and chronic disease” (InSup-C). Semi-structured interviews (n = 156) and 87 quantitative questionnaires (CRA, POS, CANHELP Lite) were conducted with family carers. Interviews were analysed with transnationally agreed thematic codes (MAXQDA or NVivo). Statistical tests (SPSS) were carried out in accordance with the characteristic value of the items and distributions. Results: On average, quantitative data showed moderate burden, but the qualitative findings indicated that this burden might be underrated. There is some evidence that IPC-i with well-developed professional care networks and communication systems relieved family carers’ burden by direct and indirect interventions; e.g. provision of night shift nurses or psychological support. Needs of family carers were similar in all participating countries. However, in all countries IPC-i mostly offered one-off events for family carers, lacking systematic or institutionalised support structures. Conclusions: Data suggest that, most IPC-i did not pay enough attention to the needs of most family carers, and did not offer proactive care and access to supportive resources to them (e.g. training, respite care, access to resources). We recommend recognizing family carers as part of the ‘unit of care’ and partner in caregiving, to improve their knowledge about, and access to, and the support available.
Background: Caring for advanced cancer patients affects carers’ psychological and physical health. Resilience has been defined as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of threat.” Aim: The aim of this study was to explore factors promoting carer resilience, based on carers’ experiences with and preferences for health care provider support. Design: Qualitative, semi-structured, individual interviews with family carers of advanced cancer patients were performed until data saturation. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using systematic text condensation. Setting/participants: Carers (n = 14) of advanced cancer patients, not receiving curative treatment, admitted to an integrated curative and palliative care cancer outpatient clinic or to a university hospital cancer clinic, were included. Results: 14 carers of advanced cancer patients were included 7 men, 7 women, and mean age of 59 years 3 were bereaved 12 were partners 5 had young and teenage children. Four main resilience factors were identified: (1) being seen and known by health care providers—a personal relation (2) availability of palliative care (3) information and communication about illness, prognosis, and death and (4) facilitating a good carer–patient relation. Conclusion: Health care providers may enhance carers’ resilience by a series of simple interventions. Education should address carers’ support needs and resilience. Systematic assessment of carers’ support needs is recommended. Further investigation is needed into how health care providers can help carers and patients communicate about death.
Purpose: The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) was developed for use among family caregivers in palliative care for assessment of their support needs. The purpose of this study was to translate and evaluate the validity and reliability of the CSNAT in a sample of Swedish family caregivers and nurses in a palliative care context. Methods: Data for this validation study was collected during 2016 in the context of palliative home care in two larger Swedish cities. The study was conducted in three stages to reach conceptual, semantic, operational and measurement equivalence between the original UK version and the Swedish version. Stage I consisted of translation to Swedish. In Stage II, cognitive interviews were performed with 8 family caregivers and 10 nurses. Data were analyzed based on relevance, clarity and sensitivity. In Stage III, the CSNAT and related self-rating measures (caregiver burden, preparedness for caregiving and quality of life) were completed by 118 family caregivers. Data quality, construct validity and test-retest reliability were evaluated. Results: The CSNAT items were considered relevant and useful to identify areas of support needs. The Swedish CSNAT showed sound psychometric properties with satisfactory data quality and few problems with missing data across items (1.8%-6.1%). All items except one correlated as expected (rho>0.3) with caregiver burden, supporting construct validity. All items had satisfactory test-retest reliability (κw=0.45-0.75). Conclusions: This study further adds to the validity of the CSNAT and shows in addition that it is reliable and stable for use among family caregivers in palliative care.
Objective: Caring for the family is included as one of the eight domains of quality palliative care, calling attention to the importance of the family system and family communications about cancer during care and treatment of the disease. Previously, a model of family caregiver communication defined four caregiver communication types - Manager, Carrier, Partner, Lone - each with a unique communication pattern. The purpose of the present study was to extend the model of family caregiver communication in cancer care to further understand the impact of family communication burden on caregiving outcomes. Method: This mixed-method study employed fieldnotes from a family caregiver intervention focused on quality of life and self-reported caregiver communication items to identify a specific family caregiver type. Caregiver types were then analyzed using outcome measures on psychological distress, skills preparedness, family inventory of needs, and quality-of-life domains. Results: Corroboration between fieldnotes and self-reported communication for caregivers ([i]n[/i] = 21, 16 women, mean age of 53 years) revealed a definitive classification of the four caregiver types (Manager = 6, Carrier = 5, Partner = 6, Lone = 4). Mean scores on self-reported communication items documented different communication patterns congruent with the theoretical framework of the model. Variation in caregiver outcomes measures confirmed the model of family caregiver communication types. Partner and Lone caregivers reported the lowest psychological distress, with Carrier caregivers feeling least prepared and Manager caregivers reporting the lowest physical quality of life. Significance of results: This study illustrates the impact of family communication on caregiving and increases our knowledge and understanding about the role of communication in caregiver burden. The research provides the first evidence-based validation for a family caregiver communication typology and its relationship to caregiver outcomes. Future research is needed to develop and test interventions that target specific caregiver types.
An abstract of a study by Tucker et al defining the barriers and opportunities associated with measuring family and caregiver satisfaction with palliative care services in inpatient and ambulatory settings is presented. Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys which are mandated by CMS and the subsequent Value Based Purchasing payment system has brought increased attention to the potential effects of quality PC services through an emphasis on communication skills, coordination of care, pain management and goals of care discussions.
Evidence of gender differences in the amount and type of care provided by family caregivers in hospice palliative home care suggests potential inequities in health and health care experiences. As part of a larger critical ethnographic study examining gender relations among clients with cancer, their family caregivers and primary nurses, this article describes gendered expectations and exemptions for family caregivers within the sociopolitical context of end-of-life at home. Data were collected from in-depth interviews ([i]n[/i] = 25), observations of agency home care visits ([i]n[/i] = 9) and analyses of policy and home care agency documents ([i]n[/i] = 12). Employing a critical feminist lens, a gender-based analysis revealed that structural discourses emphasizing an artificial divide between public and private spheres constructed end-of-life at home as private and apolitical. Associated with care of home and family, women were most impacted by these public/private discourses underpinning neoliberal values of cost-efficiency. Findings suggest that a critical perspective is needed to assist policy makers and healthcare providers to view how caregiver experiences are shaped by structures that control the availability of resources. Thus, instead of focusing on caregivers' deficits, interventions should be directed at the social, political and economic conditions that shape gendered experiences.
Context Patients with terminal illnesses often require surrogate decision makers. Prior research has demonstrated high surrogate stress, and that despite standards promoting substituted judgment, most patients do not want their surrogates to make pure substituted judgments for them. It is not known how best to help loved ones fulfill the surrogate role. Objectives To test the effectiveness of an intervention to help surrogate decision makers. Methods One hundred sixty-six patients (41% with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 59% with gastrointestinal cancers) and their surrogates at two university medical centers were randomized to an intensive nurse-directed discussion of the end-of-life decision control preferences of the patient (TAILORED) or a discussion of nutrition (CONTROL) 163 completed baseline interviews and underwent the intervention. Results Twelve patients died during follow-up and 137 dyads completed the study. Post-intervention, using all available data, TAILORED patients and surrogates became more likely to endorse mutual surrogate decision making, that is, a balance of their own wishes and what the surrogate thinks best (adjusted odds compared with baseline for patients = 1.78, P = 0.04 adjusted odds for surrogates = 2.05, P = 0.03). CONTROL patients became 40% less likely to endorse mutual surrogate decision making (P = 0.08), and CONTROL surrogates did not change significantly from baseline (adjusted odds = 1.44, P = 0.28). Stress levels decreased for TAILORED surrogates (impact of events scale = 23.1 ± 14.6 baseline, 20.8 ± 15.3 f/u, P = 0.046), but not for CONTROL (P = 0.85), and post-intervention stress was lower for TAILORED than CONTROL (P = 0.04). Surrogates' confidence was uniformly high at baseline and did not change. Caregiver burden (Zarit) increased from 12.5 ± 6.5 to 14.7 ± 8.1 for TAILORED (P < 0.01), while not changing for CONTROL, yet satisfaction with involvement in decision making was higher at follow-up for TAILORED than for CONTROL (71% vs. 52%, P = 0.03). Conclusion TAILORED patients and surrogates who completed the study adopted a more mutual decision-making style, balancing their own wishes with what the surrogate thinks would be best for them. Surrogates reported less stress and more satisfaction. Confidence was high at baseline and did not change. There was a modest increase in caregiver burden. These findings suggest that interventions like TAILORED might positively impact surrogate decision making.
Background: there are many people with advanced cancer who are cared for in the community, though little is known about patients' and family members' lived experiences during discharge from hospital to home. Objectives: to describe the experiences of the patient-family caregiver dyad during the transition from hospital to home at a National Cancer Institute in Colombia. Methods: a descriptive phenomenological approach was taken for this study. Results: Forty-one nominal codes emerged, comprising seven themes that describe the experience of the individual in palliative care and their family caregiver during the transition from hospital to home care. Conclusions: the patient-family caregiver dyad have to deal with symptoms while being confronted with the prognosis and progression of the disease at home. The economic costs in acquiring supplies needed for proper care provision are considerable. In addition there are administrative fees from consultations and accessing the health services. Emotional and spiritual support for the dyad is required.
Purpose: The importance of family caregivers in providing palliative care at home and in supporting a home death is well supported. Gaining a better understanding of what enables palliative family caregivers to continue caring at home for their family members until death is critical to providing direction for more effective support. The purpose of the study was to describe the experiences of bereaved family caregivers whose terminally ill family members with advanced cancer were successful in achieving a desired home death. Method: A qualitative interpretive descriptive approach was used. Data were collected using semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews conducted in-person or via telephone in addition to field notes and reflective journaling. The study took place in British Columbia, Canada, and included 29 bereaved adult family caregivers who had provided care for a family member with advanced cancer and experienced a home death. Results: Four themes captured the experience of caring at home until death: context of providing care, supportive antecedents to providing care, determination to provide care at home, and enabled determination. Factors that enabled determination to achieve a home death included initiation of formal palliative care, asking for and receiving help, augmented care, relief or respite, and making the healthcare system work for the ill person. Conclusions: Clarifying caregiving goals and supporting the factors that enable caregiver determination appear to be critical in enhancing the likelihood of a desired home death.
Context Family caregivers of individuals with serious illness who undergo intensive life-sustaining medical procedures at the end of life may be at risk of negative consequences including depression. Objectives The objective of this study was to determine the association between patients' use of life-sustaining procedures at the end of life and depressive symptoms in their surviving spouses. Methods We used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey of U.S. residents, linked to Medicare claims data. We included married Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older who died between 2000 and 2011 (n = 1258) and their surviving spouses. The use of life-sustaining procedures (i.e., intubation/mechanical ventilation, tracheostomy, gastrostomy tube insertion, enteral/parenteral nutrition, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in the last month of life was measured via claims data. Using propensity score matching, we compared change in depressive symptoms of surviving spouses. Results Eighteen percent of decedents underwent one or more life-sustaining procedures in the last month of life. Those whose spouses underwent life-sustaining procedures had a 0.32-point increase in depressive symptoms after death (scale range = 0-8) and a greater likelihood of clinically significant depression (odds ratio = 1.51) compared with a matched sample of spouses of those who did not have procedures (P < 0.05). Conclusion Surviving spouses of those who undergo intensive life-sustaining procedures at the end of life experience a greater magnitude of increase in depressive symptoms than those whose spouses do not undergo such procedures. Further study of the circumstances and decision making surrounding these procedures is needed to understand their relationship with survivors' negative mental health consequences and how best to provide appropriate support.
Older adults cared for at home by family members at the end of life are at risk for care transitions to residential and institutional care settings. These transitions are emotionally distressing and fraught with suffering for both families and the older adult. A theoretical model titled "The Changing Nature of Guilt in Family Caregivers: Living Through Care Transitions of Parents at the End of Life" was developed using the method of grounded theory. When a dying parent cannot remain at home to die, family members experience guilt throughout the transition process. Findings indicated that guilt surrounding transfers escalated during the initial stages of the transfer but was mitigated by achieving what family members deemed as a "good" death when relatives were receiving hospice care. The findings of this interpretative approach provide new insights into family-focused perspectives in care transfers of the dying.
Background Family carers provide substantial support for patients at end-of-life. It is important to understand how caregiving impacts on carers to guide appropriate interventions to improve carer wellbeing. The aims of this study were to investigate levels of psychological distress and predictors of distress during end of life care giving in a national sample of family carers of people with cancer. Methods Four-month post-bereavement postal survey of a national census sample of relatives reporting a death from cancer 1–16th May 2015. Retrospective data collected included carer demographics, carers’ psychological distress (GHQ-12), care giving hours and tasks, out of pocket expenses, support from informal and formal care, other demands on carers’ time (work, other caregiving responsibilities, voluntary work), opportunities for respite, patient symptoms and activities of daily living (ADL). Exploratory univariate analyses were used to describe the data and inform multivariate analysis. Results Surveys were completed by 1504 (28.5%) of 5271 carers. Carers’ median GHQ distress score was 7 (IQR 4–9), where a score>=4 indicates ‘caseness’ for psychological distress. Univariate analysis results at p<0.05 indicate that increased hours of caregiving, other caring responsibilities and the patient‘s worsening symptoms and reduced ADL increased distress. Formal support, hours of volunteering and respite were associated with reduced distress. Carer age, sex, work situation and level of deprivation also related to distress. Multivariate analysis indicates that the total hours of care giving, patients’ psychological symptoms and the carer being female was related to increased distress, whilst formal service provision was related to reduced distress. The final model explained 19% of variance in distress. Conclusion A considerable majority of family carers suffer clinically significant levels of psychological distress during end of life care giving. Objective care burden in the form of total hours of caregiving is associated with increased distress. Being female and caring for a patient with psychological symptoms appears to increase distress, whereas support from formal care services can ameliorate distress. Whilst the final model explains a modest amount of variance in carer distress, it indicates that reduction in objective care burden and support from services can have an important, positive impact.
Background For people living with dementia, the capacity to make important decisions about themselves diminishes as their condition advances. As a result, important decisions (affecting lifestyle, medical treatment and end of life) become the responsibility of someone else, as the surrogate decision-maker. This study investigated how surrogate decision-makers make important decisions on behalf of a person living with dementia. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 34 family members who had formally or informally taken on the role of surrogate decision-maker. Thematic analysis of interviews was undertaken, which involved identifying, analysing and reporting themes arising from the data. Results Analysis revealed three main themes associated with the process of surrogate decision-making in dementia: knowing the person's wishes; consulting with others and striking a balance. Most participants reported that there was not an advance care plan in place for the person living with dementia. Even when the prior wishes of the person with dementia were known, the process of decision-making was often fraught with complexity. Discussion Surrogate decision-making on behalf of a person living with dementia is often a difficult process. Advance care planning can play an important role in supporting this process. Healthcare professionals can recognise the challenges that surrogate decision-makers face and support them through advance care planning in a way that suits their needs and circumstances.
Context: Carers' needs in advanced disease, and specifically in relation to breathlessness, are well evidenced. Publications on educational interventions for carers of patients with advanced disease that focus on symptoms are scarce and absent for breathlessness. Objectives: To establish current education provided by clinicians for carers of patients with breathlessness in advanced disease, views about educating carers about breathlessness, and relevant outcomes for a future randomized controlled trial of an educational intervention for carers. Methods: An online survey was completed by 365 clinicians: medical, nursing, and allied health professionals from primary care, hospital, and hospice. Descriptive statistics summarized respondent characteristics and survey responses, and the Chi-squared test was applied. Content analysis of free-text comments was conducted. Results: Most clinicians reported educating carers by educating patients at clinical contacts with patients. Carer involvement was largely an ‘add-on’; an active carer education strategy, where all carers were invited to attend, was not currently apparent. Clinicians endorsed the importance of educating carers about breathlessness through increasing carer confidence and/or control, helping patients' better self-manage breathlessness and potentially reducing admissions. Joint education with patients, giving practical advice, and strategies for helping patients were advised. To inform a future trial, clinicians identified improvement in patient outcomes, particularly patient quality of life as very important in enhancing clinician adoption of an educational intervention for carers. Conclusion: This survey revealed an appetite among clinicians for an educational intervention for carers of patients with breathlessness in advanced disease and provided important insights to underpin a future Phase II randomized controlled trial.
Context: Pain management was the most identified burden faced by family caregivers in end-of-life caregiving. Objectives: To synthesize current scientific evidence on family caregivers' experience of pain management in end-of-life care. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using CINAHL, Embase, PubMed, and Cochrane Library electronic databases. Data were extracted from each included paper and organized into tables to synthesize the findings. Results: Fourteen research papers focusing on family caregivers' experience of pain management and strategies in end-of-life care were included. Nine were observational studies, 3 were case studies, and 2 were experimental studies. These studies mainly focused on exploring family caregivers' engagement in pain management and communication with the hospice care team about pain control family caregivers' knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy in pain management and family caregivers' concerns and experience of pain management. Conclusion: This review identified themes similar to previous reviews on family caregivers of patients with cancer or in palliative care: inadequate knowledge and assessment skills in pain management, misunderstanding of pain medications, and poor communication with the care team. Future research should design educational programs and material for family caregivers to improve their pain management knowledge and skills, communication, and engagement in care. The scientific knowledge on this topic is scarce, and level of evidence is low it is therefore imperative to have more exploratory studies to expand the quality and quantity of evidence and increase our understanding of family caregivers' needs and barriers to pain management based on larger and more diverse patient and caregiver samples.
All doctors, irrespective of their specialty or the setting in which they work, will care for patients who die. Around half of all deaths occur in hospitals. Evidence suggests that the quality of communication around this process is poorer in hospitals than in other settings, according to responses from relatives who have experienced bereavement. Over half of NHS complaints concern care of the dying.This article discusses how to best support relatives and carers at the end of a patient's life. While the focus is on the hospital setting, the principles are applicable to community and care home settings. In this article, "relative" encompasses family members, care givers, and those close to the patient. The article presumes throughout that the patient has given consent for information to be shared with relatives.
Context. Despite international guidelines emphasizing consumer-directed care and autonomous decisions in research participation, there is a common myth that research can be an additional and unwanted burden on patients and their family members. Objectives. To examine the experiences and impact of research involvement on family caregivers (FCs) of terminally ill people, focusing within home-based palliative care. Methods. Three hundred sixteen of 322 participants (98.1%), who completed an FC support intervention through a stepped-wedge cluster trial (Australia, 2012-2015), participated in a postintervention telephone interview on their study experiences, which included quantitative and qualitative questions. Results. Ninety-seven percent of both the control (n = 89) and intervention (n = 227) groups perceived positive aspects, whereas almost all did not report any negative aspects of being involved in this research the majority rated their involvement as very/extremely beneficial (control 77% intervention 83%). The qualitative analysis generated three major themes: "intrapersonal-inward directed" "connection with others-outward directed" and "interpersonal-participant-researcher relationship." Conclusions. This study provided quantitative and qualitative evidence challenging the myth. In contrast to health professional concerns, FCs appreciated the opportunity to participate and benefited from their involvement in research. Research protocols need to be specifically tailored to the needs of family caregivers and include debriefing opportunities for all participants at the end of intervention studies, regardless of which group they have been assigned. Strategies that facilitate health professionals' understanding of the research and risk benefits may help reduce gatekeeping and improve the validity of research findings.
Background: Research indicates that women are the primary family caregivers for others at life’s end and, because of ageing populations, will keep fulfilling this role as they age. Yet, little is known about how the gendered nature of caregiving contributes to older women’s understandings of providing care. Aim: To explore how gender norms constructed older women’s views about the appropriate roles of women and men in providing palliative and end-of-life care for family members. Design: Six focus groups were conducted with 39 community dwelling older adults (36 women and 3 men) using two vignettes to prompt discussion about experience of end of life caring and attitudes towards Advance Care Planning. This article reports on data gathered from female participants’ reactions to Vignette 1 which prompted significant discussion regarding the intersection of gender and older women’s caregiving experience. Setting/participants: A total of 36 women in the age ranges of ‘50–59 years’ through to ‘90–99 years’ from New Zealand. Results: Three themes regarding gender and caregiving were identified: the expectation women will care, women’s duty to care and women’s construction of men in relation to caregiving and illness. The women adhered to stereotypical gender norms that regard women as primary caregivers. There was little connection between the burden they associated with caregiving and this gender construction. Conclusion: The expectation that older women will provide end-of-life care even when experiencing considerable burden is an unacknowledged outcome of gender norms that construct women as caregivers.
Background: This pilot study aimed to investigate quality of life, psychological burden, unmet needs, and care satisfaction in family caregivers of advanced cancer patients (FCs) during specialized inpatient palliative care (SIPC) and to test feasibility and acceptance of the questionnaire survey. Methods: During a period of 12 weeks, FCs were recruited consecutively within 72 h after the patient’s admission. They completed validated scales on several outcomes: quality of life (SF-8), distress (DT), anxiety (GAD-7), depression (PHQ-9), supportive needs (FIN), palliative care outcome (POS), and satisfaction with care (FAMCARE-2). We used non-parametric tests, t-tests and correlation analyses to address our research questions. Results: FCs showed high study commitment: 74 FCs were asked to participate whereof 54 (73%) agreed and 51 (69%) returned the questionnaire. Except for “bodily pain”, FCs’ quality of life (SF-8) was impaired in all subscales. Most FCs (96%) reported clinically significant own distress (DT), with sadness, sorrows and exhaustion being the most distressing problems (80–83%). Moderate to severe anxiety (GAD-7) and depression (PHQ-9) were prevalent in 43% and 41% of FCs, respectively. FCs scored a mean number of 16.3 of 20 needs (FIN) as very or extremely important (SD 3.3), 20% of needs were unmet in >50% of FCs. The mean POS score assessed by FCs was 16.6 (SD 5.0) and satisfaction (FAMCARE-2) was high (73.4; SD 8.3). Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrated feasibility of the questionnaire survey and showed relevant psychosocial burden and unmet needs in FCs during SIPC. However, FCs’ satisfaction with SIPC seemed to be high. A current multicenter study evaluates these findings longitudinally in a large cohort of FCs.
Two key components of end-of-life planning are (1) informal discussions about future care and other end-of-life preferences and (2) formal planning via living wills and other legal documents. We leverage previous work on the institutional aspects of marriage and on sexual-minority discrimination to theorize why and how heterosexual, gay, and lesbian married couples engage in informal and formal end-of-life planning. We analyze qualitative dyadic in-depth interviews with 45 midlife gay, lesbian, and heterosexual married couples (N = 90 spouses). Findings suggest that same-sex spouses devote considerable attention to informal planning conversations and formal end-of-life plans, while heterosexual spouses report minimal formal or informal planning. The primary reasons same-sex spouses give for making end-of-life preparations are related to the absence of legal protections and concerns about discrimination from families. These findings raise questions about future end-of-life planning for same- and different-sex couples given a rapidly shifting legal and social landscape.
Purpose: Caregiver, relational, and patient factors have been associated with the health of family members and friends providing care to patients with early-stage cancer. Little research has examined whether findings extend to family caregivers of patients with incurable cancer, who experience unique and substantial caregiving burdens. We examined correlates of mental and physical health among caregivers of patients with newly-diagnosed incurable lung or non-colorectal gastrointestinal cancer. Methods: At baseline for a trial of early palliative care, caregivers of participating patients (N = 275) reported their mental and physical health (Medical Outcome Survey-Short Form-36); patients reported their quality of life (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General). Analyses used hierarchical linear regression with two-tailed significance tests. Results: Caregivers’ mental health was worse than the U.S. national population (M = 44.31, p < .001), yet their physical health was better (M = 56.20, p < .001). Hierarchical regression analyses testing caregiver, relational, and patient factors simultaneously revealed that younger (B = 0.31, p = .001), spousal caregivers (B = −8.70, p = .003), who cared for patients reporting low emotional well-being (B = 0.51, p = .01) reported worse mental health; older (B = −0.17, p = .01) caregivers with low educational attainment (B = 4.36, p < .001) who cared for patients reporting low social well-being (B = 0.35, p = .05) reported worse physical health. Conclusions: In this large sample of family caregivers of patients with incurable cancer, caregiver demographics, relational factors, and patient-specific factors were all related to caregiver mental health, while caregiver demographics were primarily associated with caregiver physical health. These findings help identify characteristics of family caregivers at highest risk of poor mental and physical health who may benefit from greater supportive care.
Background: Family members provide vital care at end of life, enabling patients to remain at home. Such informal care contributes significantly to the economy while supporting patients’ preferences and government policy. However, the value of care-givers’ contributions is often underestimated or overlooked in evaluations. Without information on the activities and expenditures involved in informal care-giving, it is impossible to provide an accurate assessment of carers’ contribution to end-of-life care. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the contributions and expenditure of informal, family care-giving in end-of-life cancer care. Design: A national census survey of English cancer carers was conducted. Survey packs were mailed to 5271 people who registered the death of a relative to cancer during 1–16 May 2015. Data were collected on decedents’ health and situation, care support given, financial expenditure resulting from care, carer well-being and general background information. Results: In all, 1504 completed surveys were returned (28.5%). Over 90% of respondents reported spending time on care-giving in the last 3 months of the decedent’s life, contributing a median 69 h 30 min of care-giving each week. Those who reported details of expenditure (72.5%) spent a median £370 in the last 3 months of the decedent’s life. Conclusion: Carers contribute a great deal of time and money for day-to-day support and care of patients. This study has yielded a unique, population-level data set of end-of-life care-giving and future analyses will provide estimates of the economic value of family care-givers’ contributions.
Background: A growing number of older people are living in single households. They form a disadvantaged group within society as regards staying at home, most likely towards the end-of-life. It is mainly non-kin-carers who try to fulfil older people’s desire for a home death, but very little is known about the challenges they face during their involvement. Aim: Getting insight into the engagement of non-kin-carers in the support for older people living alone, and a better understanding of the challenges they have to manage in end-of-life care. Design: Exploratory qualitative design perspectives of non-kin-carers were collected through personal in-depth interviews (n = 15) retrospectively. Setting: Home care, urban and rural areas in Austria Findings: A slow and subtle transition into care is what characterizes non-kin-care relationships which show differences between friends and neighbours. Towards the end of life, the main challenges emerged around increased physical care needs, issues of decision-making and facing the process of dying. Prior experiences with the latter, which most of the involved carers had, influenced non-kin-carers’ steadiness to allow home death and so did reliable formal support, particularly from specialized palliative care teams. Conclusion: Support of older people living alone, in particular until the last stage of life, comes along with multiple efforts. Respectful and supporting relationships between professional carers and non-kin-carers are vital to keep non-kin-carers involved.
Rationale: The primary setting of palliative care has shifted from inpatient care to patients’ residences. Family caregiving is essential for patients with life-limiting illnesses to receive palliative care at home, however little information is available regarding potential interventions to achieve palliative homecare for those without sufficient support from family members in various settings, including disasters. Patient concerns: In March 2011, Fukushima, Japan experienced an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. In August 2015, a 59-year-old Japanese female presented to our hospital, located 23 km north of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with a right breast ulcer. Diagnoses: The patient was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Interventions: The patient's general condition gradually worsened despite a one-year course of chemotherapy, and she became bedridden after a fall in October 2016. Although the patient wished to receive palliative homecare, this appeared challenging to achieve because she resided alone in a temporary housing shelter. Although she originally lived with her family in Odaka District, Fukushima, she relocated outside of the city following evacuation orders after the disaster. The evacuation orders for Odaka District were still in effect when she returned to the city alone in 2014. We contacted her sister who moved apart from her during the evacuation, and explained the necessity of family caregiving to enable her palliative homecare. Outcomes: The sister decided to move back to their original residence in Odaka District and live with the patient again. The patient successfully spent her end-of-life period and died at home. Lessons: Health care providers and community health workers may need to take a pro-active approach to communicating with family members to draw informal support to enable patients’ end-of-life management according to their values and preferences. This is a lesson which may be applicable to broader healthcare settings beyond cancer, or disaster contexts, considering that population ageing and social isolation may continue to advance worldwide.
Increasing attention is being paid to specific difficulties experienced by bereaved family caregivers (FCs). Limited capacity within health and social care structures results in high intensity of informal caregiving. The focus of recent research is the identification of specific predictors of adverse FC outcomes, in order to identify those FCs who will benefit most from intervention and support. Research is challenged by multiple influencing and confounding variables. This study aimed to evaluate factors of care associated with higher grief intensity in bereaved adult–child (AC‐FCs) and spousal FCs (S‐FCs). Data from the Qualycare study, a mortality follow‐back study of bereaved FCs of patients who died of cancer, was analyzed. Four hundred eighty‐four patient–FC dyads were included: 246 AC‐FCs and 238 S‐FCs. S‐FCs received more formal (SPC) (p = 0.026), and AC‐FCs more informal (p < 0.001), support. AC‐FCs were more likely to continue to work while caregiving (p < 0.001). Patients with AC‐FCs were more likely to spend time in and die in a nursing home (p < 0.001). Higher grief intensity was associated with higher caregiving intensity (p < 0.001), as well as other factors. AC‐FCs whose relative died in NH experienced significantly lower grief intensity (p < 0.001). Intensity of caregiving predicted 11.6% of variance in grief intensity for AC‐FCs compared to 0.5% for S‐FCs. The ‘relief model’ of bereavement is relevant for AC‐FCs. The support needs of AC‐FCs and S‐FCs differ. AC‐FCs should be targeted for practical supports and interventions, in order to support home‐death, if desired by patient and FC, and optimize bereavement outcomes.
This article presents findings from research that explored how a community garden might function as a place of end-of-life and bereavement support. Adopting Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods, and informed by Third Place theory and notions of therapeutic landscape, creative consultations were held in the Garden and people's homes. The findings provide insights into the nature of informal care as it is played out in the liminal garden space, between home and institution. The results illuminate the therapeutic landscape of community gardens, and contribute new understandings to the fields of PAR, health geography and end-of-life care.
Purpose/Objectives: To explore family caregivers’ perspectives of caring for patients with terminal hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as patients approached the end of life. Research Approach: Longitudinal, qualitative descriptive design. Setting: Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and Veterans Affairs Portland Health Care System in Oregon. Participants: 13 family caregivers with a mean age of 56 years (range = 22–68 years). The majority of family caregivers were female (n = 10) and identified as White (n = 11). Methodologic Approach: Interview data were collected from family caregivers once a month for as many as six months, for a total of 39 interviews. Data were analyzed using conventional content analysis. Findings: Five core categories and nine subcategories were identified. From the time of the terminal diagnosis to the end of life, family caregivers felt unprepared, uncertain, and in need of information. They struggled with whether symptoms were HCC- or cirrhosis-related. Interpretation: Nurses can support family caregivers by eliciting their knowledge and concerns, and attending to symptom presentation and interpretation and to treatment challenges. Understanding challenges caregivers experience is crucial for developing interventions that address their desire for information, support, and help along the HCC disease trajectory. Implications for Nursing: Nurses play a critical role in preparing caregivers to understand the importance of pain assessment and management and early referral to palliative care.
Objective: The Views of Informal Carers Experiences of Services (VOICES) instrument is a postal questionnaire that has been utilized internationally to capture the experiences of end-of-life care during the last months of life. Aotearoa/New Zealand, traditionally a bicultural society, reflects both the European worldview and that of the indigenous Māori. The Māori collectivist worldview considers whānau (extended family) support as key at the end of life and privileges “kanohi ki te kanohi” (face-to-face) meetings. In such a context, how will VOICES be received? Our pilot study was designed to test the effectiveness of an adaptation of the VOICES questionnaire in the New Zealand social setting for both Māori and non-Māori. Method: Cognitive interviews were conducted with 20 bereaved whānau and family members whose relative died between January 1 and April 4, 2014, in one urban New Zealand hospital. Thematic analysis was conducted on the resulting transcripts. Results: We found that, although the questionnaire provides valuable information, administration of the current questionnaire within a bicultural context is problematic. These problems are related to its scope, cultural acceptability, structure, and content. Distribution of the VOICES questionnaire, either through the post or online, without prior consultation, also risks engaging Māori in a culturally inappropriate manner. Significance of results: These findings will prompt revisions to both the content and research approach to implementing VOICES in a bicultural context. Recommendations include prior consultation with local indigenous communities as well as utilization of a mixed-methods approach to utilizing VOICES in a bicultural context. The cognitive interview procedures employed (adjusted for a collectivist worldview) in this study may also prove useful to indigenous groups seeking to develop or adapt questionnaires within a bicultural or multicultural context.
Care work is often feminised and invisible. Intangible components of care, such as emotional labour, are rarely recognised as economically valuable. Men engaging in care work can be stigmatised or simply made invisible for non-conformance to gender norms (Dworzanowski-Venter, 2008). Mburu et al (2014) and Chikovore et al (2016) have studied masculinity from an intersectional perspective, but male caregiving has not enjoyed sufficient intersectional focus. Intersectional analysis of male caregiving has the twin benefits of making 'women's work' visible and finding ways to keep men involved in caring occupations. I foreground the class-gender intersection in this study of black male caregivers as emotional labourers involved in palliative care work in Gauteng (2005-2013). Informal AIDS care and specialist oncology nursing are contrasting cases of male care work presented in this article. Findings suggest that caregiving men interviewed for this study act in gender-disruptive ways and face a stigmatising social backlash in post-colonial South Africa. Oncology nursing has a professional cachet denied to informal sector caregivers. This professional status acts as a class-based insulator against oppressive gender-based stigma, for oncology nursing more closely aligns to an idealised masculinity. The closer to a 'respectable' middle-class identity, or bourgeois civility, the better for these men, who idealise traditionally white male formal sector occupations. However, this insulating effect relies on a denial of emotional aspects of care by male cancer nurses and a lack of activism around breaking down gendered notions of care work. Forming a guild of informal sector AIDs caregivers could add much-needed professional recognition and provide an organisational base for gender norm disruption through activism. This may help to retain more men in informal sector caregiving roles and challenge the norms that are used to stigmatise male caregiving work in general.
Background: Family caregivers (broadly defined as family and friends) experience multiple concurrent transitions when caring for a person with advanced cancer. Aims: To (a) explore the transition experience of family caregivers caring for persons with advanced cancer living in the community, (b) describe potential triggers for transitions, (c) identify what influences this experience, and (d) develop a conceptual framework of their transition experience. Design: Sandelowski and Barroso’s methodology for synthesizing qualitative research included (a) a comprehensive search of empirical literature, (b) quality appraisal of qualitative studies, (c) classification of studies, and (d) synthesis of the findings. Data sources: Literature was sourced from six electronic data bases. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (a) published qualitative studies (and mixed-method designs) of the caregiving experience of family caregivers of community-living persons with advanced cancer at the end of life, (b) participants (caregivers and care recipients) of 18 years of age and above, (c) studies published in English in any country, and (d) studies published between 2004 and 2014. Results: A total of 72 studies were included in the metasynthesis. Family caregivers experience a “life transition” whereby their lives are permanently altered. The participants described the process of redefining normal which consisted of coming to terms with their situation and connecting with others. Outcomes of these processes were as follows: (a) maintaining a sense of personhood, (b) reframing hope, (c) maintaining self-efficacy, (d) finding meaning, and (e) preparing for the death of their care recipient. Conclusion: The findings provide a framework to guide the development of supportive programs and future research.
In the palliative phase of a person's illness, the needs of the patient and informal caregivers are paramount. Caregivers often look to palliative care practitioners for support, guidance and emotional comfort. This article reviews the role of the informal caregiver at the end of life, summarising their concerns and needs. The paper also highlights caregiver difficulties in making the coping transition when the patient's medical condition becomes advanced and they require end-of-life care. The focus of the review is placed on discussions about Advanced Care Planning (ACP). ACP is a complex legal, ethical and practical issue that can enable caregivers to consider future strategies and enable them to provide high quality care at the end of life. The paper looks at some of the ethical and legal issues associated with this sensitive end-of-life issue.
Objective: Individuals who care for a family member or friend at end‐of‐life experience a range of practical and emotional challenges. This paper applies a theoretical framework of personal construct psychology (PCP) to explore carers’ experiences of end‐of‐life care, with a focus on implications for their sense of identity.
Method: Literature searches were conducted through PsycINFO, Medline, PubMed, and Google Scholar for articles published since 2005 with a focus on carer experiences at end‐of‐life. Main themes identified through this literature review were considered in light of PCP theory, with particular attention on the notion of “threat” (i.e., an imminent and comprehensive change in a person's core identity structure). Implications were then drawn for providing practical carer support.
Results: The reviewed literature highlighted carers’ practical challenges at end‐of‐life (e.g., assisting with activities of daily living), emotional challenges (e.g., negotiating the imminent death of a family member or friend), and personal implications (e.g., sudden removal of caring responsibilities).
Conclusions: The constructivist notion of “threat” is a particularly salient concept for end‐of‐life carers as they negotiate the approaching death of a family member or friend. This can have significant ramifications for their sense of identity beyond bereavement. Clinical approaches based on PCP may effectively support end‐of‐life carers to develop identities beyond their caring role as they transition to a life without caring responsibilities.
Background: Economic evaluation of palliative care has been slow to develop and the evidence base remains small. Aim: This article estimates formal and informal care costs in the last year of life for a sample of patients who received specialist palliative care in three different areas in Ireland. Design: Formal care costs are calculated for community, specialist palliative care, acute hospital and other services. Where possible, a bottom-up approach is used, multiplying service utilisation by unit cost. Informal care is valued at the replacement cost of care. Setting/participants: Data on utilisation were collected during 215 ‘after death’ telephone interviews with a person centrally involved in the care in the last year of life of decedents who received specialist palliative care in three areas in Ireland with varying levels of specialist palliative care. Results: Mean total formal and informal costs in the last year of life do not vary significantly across the three areas. The components of formal costs, however, do vary across areas, particularly for hospital and specialist palliative care in the last 3 months of life. Conclusion: Costs in the last year of life for patients in receipt of specialist palliative care are considerable. Where inpatient hospice care is available, there are potential savings in hospital costs to offset specialist palliative care inpatient costs. Informal care accounts for a high proportion of costs during the last year of life in each area, underlining the important role of informal caregivers in palliative care.
Background: Palliative care for Parkinson's disease (PD) is an emerging area of interest for clinicians, patients and families. Identifying the palliative care needs of caregivers is central to developing and implementing palliative services for families affected by PD. The objective of this paper was to elicit PD caregiver needs, salient concerns, and preferences for care using a palliative care framework.
Materials and Methods: 11 PD caregivers and one non-overlapping focus group (n = 4) recruited from an academic medical center and community support groups participated in qualitative semi-structured interviews. Interviews and focus group discussion were digitally recorded, transcribed and entered into ATLAS.ti for coding and analysis. We used inductive qualitative data analysis techniques to interpret responses.
Results: Caregivers desired access to emotional support and education regarding the course of PD, how to handle emergent situations (e.g. falls and psychosis) and medications. Participants discussed the immediate impact of motor and non-motor symptoms as well as concerns about the future, including: finances, living situation, and caretaking challenges in advanced disease. Caregivers commented on the impact of PD on their social life and communication issues between themselves and patient. All participants expressed interest and openness to multidisciplinary approaches for addressing these needs.
Conclusions: Caregivers of PD patients have considerable needs that may be met through a palliative care approach. Caregivers were receptive to the idea of multidisciplinary care in order to meet these needs. Future research efforts are needed to develop and test the clinical and cost effectiveness of palliative services for PD caregivers.
This prospective study investigates informal care networks and their impact on hospice outcomes. Primary caregivers (N = 47) were the main source of data from 2 time points: within a week of enrollment in hospice and bereavement. Data were also collected from 42 secondary caregivers. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) determined correspondence between primary and secondary caregivers regarding informal care network size. Correlations were used to test associations between variables. Nonparametric paired sample tests were used to analyze change in anger and guilt. The ICC found poor correspondence (-0.13) between primary and secondary caregivers' network descriptions. Correlational analyses found a strong/moderate negative association between quality of dying (QOD) and grief ( r = -0.605, P < .05). Study participants reported increased anger (0.4, P < .05, range 1-5) and guilt (0.4, P < .05, range 1-5), particularly among caregivers with high levels of support. Findings suggest that improving QOD may facilitate postdeath coping for caregivers.
Objective: Advanced cancer patients' prognostic understanding is associated with completion of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, which often represent engagement in advance care planning (ACP). Given caregivers' critical roles in patient decision-making about ACP and end-of-life care, caregivers' prognostic understanding may have a large additive effect. The present study examined the association between the main and interactive effects of advanced cancer patient and caregiver prognostic understanding on DNR order completion.; Methods: Data were analyzed from a combined dataset of 2 sequential multi-institutional, longitudinal cohort studies of patients with advanced cancer and their informal caregivers (n = 279 dyads) from 2002 to 2008 (Coping with Cancer 1) and 2010 to 2015 (Coping with Cancer 2). Patients' and caregivers' prognostic understanding regarding life-expectancy (≤ 12 months [prognostic understanding], >12 months [lack of prognostic understanding]) was assessed. DNR order completion was assessed through self-report and confirmed through cross-checking with medical records.; Results: Multivariable modeling of the main and interactive effects revealed the interactive effect, but not the individual effects, of patients' and caregivers' prognostic understanding was significantly associated with higher odds of patients' DNR order completion, adjusting for potential confounds (AOR = 5.89, P = 0.04). For dyads in which both the patient and caregiver had prognostic understanding regarding life expectancy of ≤12 months, 70.7% of patients had completed DNR orders compared with 31.6% to 38.9% in which 1 or both lacked prognostic understanding.; Conclusions: Findings highlight the need for ensuring accurate patient and caregiver prognostic understanding in increasing DNR order completion, which may provide a framework for improving engagement in ACP more broadly.
Objective: Longitudinal assessment of patient-caregiver relationships will determine whether caregiver self-esteem determines patient relationship satisfaction at end of life.; Background: Research on close relationships and caregiving supports the idea that informal caregivers' self-esteem may influence their relationships with their terminally ill loved ones. However, this connection has not yet been investigated longitudinally, nor has it been applied specifically to care recipients' relationship satisfaction.; Methods: A sample of 24 caregivers and 24 patients in a hospice home care program were recruited. Multiple patient and caregiver interviews were used to conduct a longitudinal study to measure fluctuations in patient health, changes in patient and caregiver relationship satisfaction, and self-esteem over a three-month period.; Results: An interaction between caregiver self-esteem and patient relationship satisfaction demonstrated the role that self-esteem plays between caregivers and patients enrolled in hospice care. Specifically, for patients with caregivers with low self-esteem, patient relationship satisfaction significantly decreased as the patient's physical health decreased, whereas for patients whose caregivers had high self-esteem, patient relationship satisfaction marginally increased during poorer physical health.; Discussion: High self-esteem may allow caregivers to overcome feelings of burden and maladaptive anticipatory grief to remain satisfied in their relationship with the patient. Caregiver self-esteem appears to play a role in fostering patient relationship satisfaction at the end of life.
Informal caregivers (ICs) are forced to make adaptive lifestyle changes to meet the significant demand of caring for loved ones who are terminally ill. Open-ended questions were administered with 26 ICs who cared for loved ones diagnosed with terminal illnesses whose prognosis was less than six months. The results add substantive information to parsimonious literature and demonstrate a correlation with existing studies that coincide with the debilitating effects that caregiving has on the informal carer. The study clarifies the complexities of the caregiving role characterized by the involvement that may adversely affect socialization, physical health conditions, and marital dynamics, among other areas of the IC’s personal life.
Little is known about the association between cognitive dysfunction among informal caregivers and patients' plans and preferences for patients' end of life care. We report on the frequency of cognitive dysfunction among both patients and caregivers and examine associations between caregivers' cognitive screening scores and end of life plans and preferences of patients with advanced cancer. The current sample was derived from a National Cancer Institute- and National Institute of Mental Health-funded study of patients with distant metastasis who had disease progression on at least first-line chemotherapy, and their informal caregivers (n = 550 pairs). The Pfeiffer Short Portable Mental Status, a validated cognitive screen, was administered to patients and caregivers. Patients were interviewed about their end of life plans and preferences. Logistic regression models regressed patients' advance care planning and treatment preferences on caregivers' cognitive screen scores. Patients' cognitive screen scores were included as covariates. Most caregivers (55%) were spouses. Almost 30% of patients scored worse on the cognitive screen than their caregivers and 12% of caregivers scored worse than the patients. For each additional error that caregivers made on the cognitive screen, patients were more likely (AOR = 1.59, p = 0.002) to report that they preferred that everything possible be done to keep them alive and were less likely (AOR = 0.75, p = 0.04) to have a living will or a health care proxy/durable power of attorney. Worse caregiver cognitive screening scores were associated with higher likelihood of patients' reporting that they wanted everything done to save their lives and a lower likelihood of having a living will or other type of advanced care plan. Future studies should confirm these findings in other populations and determine the mechanisms that may underlie the identified relationships.
Background: Case fatality after total anterior circulation stroke is high. Our objective was to describe the experiences and needs of patients and caregivers, and to explore whether, and how, palliative care should be integrated into stroke care.; Methods: From 3 stroke services in Scotland, we recruited a purposive sample of people with total anterior circulation stroke, and conducted serial, qualitative interviews with them and their informal and professional caregivers at 6 weeks, 6 months and 1 year. Interviews were transcribed for thematic and narrative analysis. The Palliative Care Outcome Scale, EuroQol-5D-5L and Caregiver Strain Index questionnaires were completed after interviews. We also conducted a data linkage study of all patients with anterior circulation stroke admitted to the 3 services over 6 months, which included case fatality, place of death and readmissions.; Results: Data linkage (n = 219) showed that 57% of patients with total anterior circulation stroke died within 6 months. The questionnaires recorded that the patients experienced immediate and persistent emotional distress and poor quality of life. We conducted 99 interviews with 34 patients and their informal and professional careers. We identified several major themes. Patients and caregivers faced death or a life not worth living. Those who survived felt grief for a former life. Professionals focused on physical rehabilitation rather than preparation for death or limited recovery. Future planning was challenging. "Palliative care" had connotations of treatment withdrawal and imminent death.; Interpretation: Major stroke brings likelihood of death but little preparation. Realistic planning with patients and informal caregivers should be offered, raising the possibility of death or survival with disability. Practising the principles of palliative care is needed, but the term "palliative care" should be avoided or reframed.
Background: The Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care at Home Service was founded in 2006 to improve community-based palliative care provision. Principal components include; early referral; home-based clinical interventions; close partnership working; and flexible teamwork. Following a successful introduction, the model was implemented in six further sites across England. This article reports a mixed methods evaluation of the implementation across these 'Innovation Centres'. The evaluation aimed to assess the process and impact on staff, patients and carers of providing Macmillan Specialist Care at Home services across the six sites.; Methods: The study was set within a Realist Evaluation framework and used a longitudinal, mixed methods research design. Data collection over 15 months (2014-2016) included: Quantitative outcome measures - Palliative Performance Scale [PPS] and Palliative Prognostic Index [PPI] (n = 2711); Integrated Palliative Outcome Scales [IPOS] (n = 1157); Carers Support Needs Assessment Tool [CSNAT] (n = 241); Views of Informal Carers -Evaluation of Services [VOICES-SF] (n = 102); a custom-designed Service Data Tool [SDT] that gathered prospective data from each site (n = 88). Qualitative data methods included: focus groups with project team and staff (n = 32 groups with n = 190 participants), and, volunteers (n = 6 groups with n = 32 participants). Quantitative data were analysed using SPPS Vs. 21 and qualitative data was examined via thematic analysis.; Results: Comparison of findings across the six sites revealed the impact of their unique configurations on outcomes, compounded by variations in stage and mode of implementation. PPS, PPI and IPOS data revealed disparity in early referral criteria, complicated by contrasting interpretations of palliative care. The qualitative analysis, CSNAT and VOICES-SF data confirmed the value of the Macmillan model of care but uptake of specialist home-based clinical interventions was limited. The Macmillan brand engendered patient and carer confidence, bringing added value to existing services. Significant findings included better co-ordination of palliative care through project management and a single referral point and multi-disciplinary teamwork including leadership from consultants in palliative medicine, the role of health care assistants in rapid referral, and volunteer support.; Conclusions: Macmillan Specialist Care at Home increases patient choice about place of death and enhances the quality of end of life experience. Clarification of key components is advocated to aid consistency of implementation across different sites and support future evaluative work.
Background: The new public health palliative care movement calls for a move away from an individualised model of caregiving to a whole of community approach which will increase expectations on community carers. In order to avoid carer isolation, exploitation and potential burnout there is then a very real need to understand environments and relationships which support collective community caregiving. In this research we explored in-home caring networks to understand if and how network centred care supports carers of the dying while developing a whole of community approach.; Methods: Over a 6-year period the research team spoke to 301 caregivers, service providers and community members via interviews and focus groups in regional, rural and urban Australia.; Results: People are already caring for their dying at home and doing it well provided they are comprehensively supported by networks of care. Being part of a caring network provided people with a sense of achievement and developed their death literacy which flowed into a myriad of other community activities. While caring networks are essential they are not widely supported by service providers. At worst, services are obstructive of peoples stated preferences for place of death and caring and often adopt a paternalistic approach. Place of care, in this case the home, was supportive of maintaining networks and peoples' wellbeing.; Conclusions: Operationalising public health approaches to palliative care requires moving to a place-based network centred model of care comprising formal and informal carers. Service systems need re-orienting to place caring networks as central to the caregiving process. This can be achieved by putting systems in place which initiate and maintain such networks and enable service providers to work with informal networks as equal and respectful partners.
Objective: To translate, culturally adapt, and psychometrically evaluate the Spanish version of the "Scale for End-of Life Caregiving Appraisal" (SEOLCAS).; Method: Observational cross-sectional study. Convenience sample of 201 informal end-of-life caregivers recruited in a southern Spanish hospital. The reliability of the questionnaire was assessed through its internal consistency (Cronbach's α) and temporal stability (Pearson's correlation coefficient [r] between test-retest). The content validity index of the items and the scale was calculated. Criterion validity was explored through performing a linear regression analysis to evaluate the SEOLCAS' predictive validity. Exploratory factor analysis was used to examine its construct validity.; Results: The SEOLCAS' reliability was very high (Cronbach's α = 0.92). Its content validity was excellent (all items' content validity index = 0.8-1; scale's validity index = 0.88). Evidence of the SEOLCAS' criterion validity showed that the participants' scores on the SEOLCAS explained approximately 79.3% of the between-subject variation of their results on the Zarit Burden Interview. Exploratory factor analysis provided evidence of the SEOLCAS' construct validity. This analysis revealed that two factors ("internal contingencies" and "external contingencies") explained 53.77% of the total variance found and reflected the stoic Hispanic attitude toward adversity. Significance of resultsThe Spanish version of the SEOLCAS has shown to be an easily applicable, valid, reliable, and culturally appropriate tool to measure the impact of end-of-life care provision on Hispanic informal caregivers. This tool offers healthcare professionals the opportunity to easily explore Hispanic informal end-of-life caregivers' experiences and discover the type of support they may need (instrumental or emotional) even when there are communicational and organizational constraints.
Background: Palliative care needs are increasing as more people are dying from incurable diseases. Healthcare costs have been reported to be highest during the last year of life, but studies on the actual costs of palliative care are scarce.; Aim: To explore the resource use and costs of palliative care among end-stage breast, colorectal and prostate cancer patients after termination of life-prolonging oncological treatments, that is, during the palliative care period.; Design: A real-life longitudinal register- and questionnaire-based study of cancer patients' resource use and costs.; Participants: In total, 70 patients in palliative care with no ongoing oncological treatments were recruited from the Helsinki University Hospital or from the local hospice. Healthcare costs, productivity costs and informal care costs were included.; Results: The mean duration of the palliative care period was 179 days. The healthcare cost accounted for 55%, informal care for 27% and productivity costs for 18% of the total costs. The last 2 weeks of life contributed to 37% of the healthcare cost. The costs of the palliative care period were higher in patients living alone, which was mostly caused by inpatient care ( p = 0.018).; Conclusion: The 45% share of indirect costs is substantial in end-of-life care. The healthcare costs increase towards death, which is especially true of patients living alone. This highlights the significant role of caregivers. More attention should be paid to home care and caregiver support to reduce inpatient care needs and control the costs of end-of-life care.
Objective: To verify the association between the level of comfort of the caregiver and socio-demographic variables related to caregiving, and the patient's functional status and symptoms.; Method: Cross-sectional study with non-probabilistic intentional sample. The instruments Palliative Performance Scale (score 0 to 100%), Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (symptom scores from zero to ten) and Holistic Comfort Questionnaire (total score ranging from 49 to 294 and mean score from 1 to 6) were used. The relationship between comfort scores and independent variables was calculated by multiple linear regression.; Results: Fifty informal caregivers participated in the study - 80% were female, 32% were 60 years old or older, 36% were children of the patient, 58% had paid work and 60% did not have help in the care. The mean overall comfort was 4.52 points. A better functional status of the patients was associated with higher levels of comfort of the caregivers. Older caregivers who received helped in the care activities presented higher comfort scores.; Conclusion: The level of comfort of caregivers of cancer patients receiving palliative care was associated with socio-demographic variables and patients' functional status and symptoms.
Background: Face-to-face/group education for palliative caregivers is successful, but relies on caregivers travelling, being absent from the patient, and rigid timings. This presents inequities for those in rural locations. Aim: To design and test an innovative distance-learning educational package (PrECEPt: PalliativE Caregivers Education Package). Design: Single-arm mixed-method feasibility proof-of-concept trial (ACTRN12616000601437). The primary outcome was carer self-efficacy, with secondary outcomes focused on caregiver preparedness and carer tasks/needs. Analysis focused on three outcome measures (taken at baseline and 6 weeks) and feasibility/acceptability qualitative data. Setting and participants: A single specialist palliative care service. Eligible informal caregivers were those of patients registered with the outpatient or community service, where the patient had a prognosis of ≥12 weeks, supporting someone with nutrition/hydration and/or pain management needs, proficient in English and no major mental health diagnosis. Results: Two modules were developed and tested (nutrition/hydration and pain management) with 18 caregivers. The materials did not have a statistically significant impact on carer self-efficacy. However, statistically significant improvements were observed on the two subsidiary measures of (1) caregiving tasks, consequences and needs (p = 0.03, confidence interval: 0.72, 9.4) and (2) caregiver preparedness (p = 0.001, confidence interval: -1.22, -0.46). The study determined that distance learning is acceptable and feasible for both caregivers and healthcare professionals. Conclusion: Distance education improves caregiver preparedness and is a feasible and acceptable approach. A two-arm trial would determine whether the materials benefitted caregivers and patients compared to a control group not receiving the materials. Additional modules could be fruitfully developed and offered.
Background An understanding of how to implement person-centred interventions in palliative and end of life care is lacking, particularly for supporting family carers. To address this gap, we investigated components related to successful implementation of the Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) intervention, a person-centred process of carer assessment and support, using Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) as a theoretical framework. This study identifies how the PARIHS component of ‘facilitation’ and its interplay with the components of ‘context’ and ‘evidence’ affect implementation success.
Methods MRC Framework Phase IV study to evaluate implementation of the CSNAT intervention at scale, over six months, in 36 UK palliative care services. 38 practitioners acting as internal facilitators in 35/36 services were interviewed. Field notes were collected during teleconference support sessions between the external and internal facilitators.
Results Successful implementation was associated with internal facilitators’ ‘leverage’ including their positioning within services, authority to change practice, and having a team of supportive co-facilitators. Effective facilitation processes included a collaborative approach, ongoing communication, and proactive problem solving to address implementation barriers. Facilitators needed to communicate the evidence and provide legitimacy for changing practice. Contextual constraints on facilitation included having to adjust recording systems to support implementation, organisational changes, a patient-focused culture and lack of managerial support.
Conclusions The CSNAT intervention requires attention to both facilitation processes and conducive organisational structures for successful implementation. These findings are likely to be applicable to any person-centred process of assessment and support within palliative care.
Background The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) intervention is an evidence-based, person-centered approach to carer assessment and support within palliative care. As such, it requires a change in practice from a practitioner- to a carer-led assessment and support process. A paucity of research has investigated factors affecting implementation of evidence-based interventions within palliative care. Objective To examine differences between high and low adopters of the CSNAT intervention in terms of practitioner attitudes to the intervention and organizational context. Methods Phase IV study of the implementation of the CSNAT intervention at scale in 36 UK palliative care services over 6 months. Survey at baseline and 6 months of practitioners at implementation sites, informed by the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) Framework. Survey tools: (a) questionnaire to assess attitudes to the CSNAT intervention; (b) Alberta Context Tool (ACT) to assess organizational context. Monthly data on intervention use enabled service classification as “high” or “low” adopters. Results Surveys returned at baseline were 157/462 and at 6 months were 69/462. Compared with low adoption services, high adopters were more likely to be hospice, at home, and day services; have a higher ratio of internal facilitators to total staff numbers; and higher scores for ACT “informal interactions” denoting more discussions about care between colleagues. Both had similarly positive attitudes to the CSNAT intervention pre-implementation, but by 6 months low adoption services developed significantly more negative attitudes, while high adoption services attitudes mostly remained the same or improved. Linking Evidence to Action Implementation may be more successful for services that offer regular opportunities to use the intervention in practice, have sufficient levels of facilitators, stimulate more staff discussion, and encourage maintenance of positive motivation. Implementation of person-centered interventions needs to plan for such factors. This has informed an implementation toolkit for the CSNAT intervention.
Euthanasia is a controversial and complex issue, especially when involving incompetent patients. On December 10, 2015, Quebec became the first Canadian province to give access to medical aid in dying (MAiD) (ie, euthanasia performed by a physician) to competent patients who satisfy strictly defined criteria. Less than 2 years later, Quebec is considering extending MAiD to incompetent patients who made an advance request. With the objective of contributing scientific data to current societal debates, we conducted a survey among 471 informal caregivers of persons with dementia, reached through Alzheimer Societies. We used a series of vignettes featuring a person with Alzheimer disease to investigate respondents' attitudes towards MAiD. The response rate was 69%. Two-thirds [68%; 95% confidence interval, 63%-73%] found it acceptable to extend MAiD to an incompetent patient at an advanced stage of Alzheimer disease who had made a written request while competent, and 91% (95% confidence interval, 87%-94%) found it acceptable at the terminal stage. Self-determination was the most widely endorsed argument in favor of access to MAiD for incompetent patients. Findings suggest strong support among informal caregivers for extending MAiD to incompetent patients, provided they are terminally-ill and had made a written request before losing capacity.;
In 2014, a group of physicians of the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) started a project called "Talking about end-of-life care in a timely manner". Just like others in the country, the Eindhoven group noticed that regularly, very frail elderly people were admitted to hospital in acute situations without there ever having been conversations about their wishes concerning treatment options at the end of life. The project aimed to prevent unnecessary admissions and treatments for these frail patients by stimulating physicians, patients and informal caregivers to start conversations about end-of-life care together at an earlier stage. The first phase of the project consisted of research: a study of the relevant literature on previous projects on the matter and a small empirical study in the Eindhoven region. This yielded as the most important causes of the delay of these conversations: the factors of timing (when is the right moment?), reserve (because of the potential emotional despair of the patient) and hope (who am I to rob a patient of their hope?). In the second phase of the project, several approaches were developed to help caregivers, patients and informal caregivers with the planning and execution of conversations about end-of-life care. Meetings were organised for patients and informal caregivers to foster awareness and to provide information. For caregivers, information was provided (via symposia and an app) and specifically designed training sessions were developed. The training sessions consist of reflection on the caregivers' personal choices with regard to end-of-life care (research has shown that caregivers choose less intensive medical treatments at the end of life) and of practising with the known complicating factors of timing, reserve and hope, and the different ways of thinking and talking about death and dying (typology of death and dying).; Educational aims: To understand the importance of discussing end-of-life care preferences with your patients at the appropriate time.To become aware of the possible interfering factors of timing, reserve and hope in talking about end-of-life care.; Key points: Using the Surprise Question may be a useful tool in determining the appropriate moment to discuss this with your patients.By talking with your patients about end-of-life care in a timely manner, unnecessary and unwanted treatment can be prevented.Constraints of doctors to implement this in their practice can be overcome by implementing a training session as described in this article.Collaboration between primary and secondary care on this issue is strongly recommended in order to assure the care continuum maximally.
Context: The proportion of people in need of palliative care worldwide is rising, and the majority wish to receive this care at home. Many countries have created policy measures to support palliative care at home.; Objective: To list and compare existing policy measures designed to support palliative care at home in addition to available primary care services in Belgium, France, and Germany.; Methods: A cross-country case comparison based on expert consultation, governmental policy documents, and relevant scientific literature.; Results: All three countries have policy measures that allow informal caregivers to adapt their working patterns or take leave of absence to provide care without losing employee rights; however, only Belgium offers specific paid palliative care leave. All three countries offer various allowances to people who are dying at home and their caregivers. Cost-reductions for out-of-pocket expenses are available, based on the level of care dependency in Germany and on prognosis in Belgium, but are not provided in France. Mobile home support teams exist in all three countries and are free of charge for patients and caregivers; but only in Belgium and Germany, there are specialist multidisciplinary palliative home care teams. Belgium and Germany provide respite care for palliative patients.; Conclusion: European countries with similar contextual characteristics offer comparable policy measures to support palliative care at home in addition to the available primary care services. However, important differences exist in the criteria for access and the extent of what is offered.
Although the burden of caring is well described, the value of home as a potential place of wellbeing and support for informal caring networks when providing end-of-life care is not well recognised. Interviews and focus groups with 127 primary carers and members of informal care networks revealed their collaborative stories about caring for a dying person at home. Four themes emerged from the data: home as a place of comfort and belonging; places of social connection and collaborative caring; places of connection to nature and the non-human; places of achievement and triumph. When support is available, nurturing carer wellbeing may be best achieved at home.
Integrated early palliative care (EPC) improves quality of life and reduces psychological distress in adult patients with cancer and caregivers, but attitudes toward EPC have been poorly studied. We aimed to investigate attitudes toward EPC in a nationwide survey of patients with cancer and caregivers. From July to October 2016, we administered nationwide questionnaires examining attitudes toward EPC in patients with cancer (<italic>n</italic> = 1001) and their families (<italic>n</italic> = 1006) from 12 Korean hospitals. When an individual considered EPC unnecessary, the reasons were collected and analyzed. Factors associated with perception of EPC were examined. A majority of patients (84.5%) and caregivers (89.5%) had positive attitudes toward EPC. The most common reasons for deeming EPC unnecessary were that EPC may be an obstacle to cancer treatment (patients: 37%; caregivers: 23%; respectively) or that they were not sure if EPC is beneficial (patients: 21%; caregivers: 24%; respectively). Financial burden as a reason was more evident in caregivers (23%) than in patients (17%). Male gender, age <50, early stage, intensive care unit admission, and not believing that dying people should prepare to practice charity were associated with patients’ negative attitudes. In caregivers, opposition to EPC was associated with not thinking death should be feared, not thinking people should be remembered, and lower educational level. Our findings showed that significant numbers of patients with advanced cancer and family caregivers showed positive attitudes toward EPC. However, more than 10% of participants did not consider EPC necessary. Physicians’ communication with patients and caregivers and financial support could help overcome the barriers of EPC.
Background: In recent years, UK policy has increasingly recognised the importance of end-of-life care in dementia. While professional consensus on optimal palliative care in dementia has been reported, little is known about the perspectives of people with dementia and family carers. Aim: To compare the views of people with dementia and family carers of people with dementia (current and recently bereaved) on optimal end-of-life care. Design: Qualitative interviews (32) and a focus group were conducted. Data were thematically analysed. Setting/participants: Participants comprised people with early stage dementia, living at home in the north-east of England (n = 11); and current and bereaved carers (n = 25) from six services providing end-of-life care in England. Findings: Seven areas were identified as important to end-of-life care for people with dementia and/or family carers. People with dementia and carers expressed the need for receiving care in place, ensuring comfort and a skilled care team. However, they disagreed about the importance of planning for the future and the role of families in organising care and future decision-making. Conclusion: Further comparison of our findings with expert consensus views highlighted key areas of divergence and agreement. Discordant views concerning perceptions of dementia as a palliative condition, responsibility for future decision-making and the practical co-ordination of end-of-life care may undermine the provision of optimal palliative care. Professionals must explore and recognise the individual perspectives of people with dementia and family carers.
Rationale. Improving end-of-life care (EOLC) in long-term care (LTC) homes requires quality measurement tools that assess families’ satisfaction with care. This research adapted and pilot-tested an EOLC satisfaction measure (Canadian Health Care Evaluation Project (CANHELP) Lite Questionnaire) for use in LTC to measure families’ perceptions of the EOLC experience and to be self-administered. Methods and Results. Phase 1. A literature review identified key domains of satisfaction with EOLC in LTC, and original survey items were assessed for inclusiveness and relevance. Items were modified, and one item was added. Phase 2. The revised questionnaire was administered to 118 LTC family members and cognitive interviews were conducted. Further modifications were made including reformatting to be self-administered. Phase 3. The new instrument was pilot-tested with 134 family members. Importance ratings indicated good content and face validity. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients (range: .88–.94) indicated internal consistency. Conclusion. This research adapted and pilot-tested the CANHELP for use in LTC. This paper introduces the new, valid, internally consistent, self-administered tool (CANHELP Lite Family Caregiver LTC) that can be used to measure families’ perceptions of and satisfaction with EOLC. Future research should further validate the instrument and test its usefulness for quality improvement and care planning.
Purpose: At the end of life, spiritual well-being is a central aspect of quality of life for many patients and their family caregivers. A prevalent spiritual value in advanced cancer patients is the need to actively give. To address this need, the current randomized trial examined whether adding a peer helping component to a coping skills intervention leads to improved meaning in life and peace for advanced gastrointestinal cancer patients and their caregivers. Feasibility and acceptability outcomes were also assessed. Methods: Advanced gastrointestinal cancer patients and caregivers (n = 50 dyads) were randomly assigned to a 5-session, telephone-based coping skills intervention or a peer helping + coping skills intervention. One or both dyad members had moderate-severe distress. Peer helping involved contributing to handouts on coping skills for other families coping with cancer. Patients and caregivers completed measures of meaning in life/peace, fatigue, psychological symptoms, coping self-efficacy, and emotional support. Patient pain and caregiver burden were also assessed. Results: Small effects in favor of the coping skills group were found regarding meaning in life/peace at 1 and 5 weeks post-intervention. Other outcomes did not vary as a function of group assignment, with both groups showing small decreases in patient and caregiver fatigue and caregiver distress and burden. High recruitment and retention rates supported feasibility, and high participant satisfaction ratings supported acceptability. Conclusions: Although a telephone-based intervention is feasible and acceptable for this population, peer helping in the context of a coping skills intervention does not enhance spiritual well-being relative to coping skills alone.
Objective: To describe bereaved caregivers' experiences of providing care at home for patients with advanced cancer, while interacting with home care services. Methods: Caregivers of patients who had completed a 4-month randomized controlled trial of early palliative care versus standard oncology care were recruited 6 months to 5 years after the patient's death. All patients except one (control) had eventually received palliative care. In semi-structured interviews, participants were asked about their experiences of caregiving. Grounded theory guided all aspects of the study. Results: Sixty-one bereaved caregivers (30 intervention, 31 control) were interviewed, including spouses (33), adult children (19), and other family (9). There were no differences in themes between control and intervention groups. The core category of Taking charge encompassed caregivers' assumption of active roles in care, often in the face of inadequate formal support. There were 4 interrelated subcategories: (1) Navigating the system-navigating the complexities of the home care system to access resources and supports; (2) Engaging with professional caregivers-interacting with visiting personnel to advocate for consistency and quality of care; (3) Preparing for death-seeking out information about what to expect at the end of life; and (4) Managing after death-managing multiple administrative responsibilities in the emotionally charged period following death. Conclusions: Caregivers were often thrust into assuming control in order to compensate for deficiencies in formal palliative home care services. Policies, quality indicators, and guidelines are needed to ensure the provision of comprehensive, interdisciplinary home palliative care.
Background: Family caregivers experience spiritual and existential concerns while caring for their terminally ill family members. Aim: To evaluate and synthesise studies on spirituality among family caregivers in palliative care. Design: An integrative literature review of peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2016. Sample: Participants were family caregivers (parents, spouses, relatives or friends) caring for an adult (age>18 years) family member with a terminal illness in a palliative care setting. Results: Data from 26 published research papers were systematically analysed. Five themes were identified regarding spirituality and family caregiving: a close and meaningful connection, spirituality as a way of coping, spiritual needs and expressions among family caregivers, spirituality to transcend fears, and spirituality in family caregivers' decision-making. Implications for Practice: Nurses are encouraged to explore the spirituality and spiritual experiences of family caregivers to support their spiritual wellbeing while caring for their terminally ill family members.
Background: Family caregivers (FCGs) of patients at the end of life (EoL) cared for at home receive support from professional and non-professional care providers. Healthcare providers in general practice play an important role as they coordinate care and establish contacts between the parties concerned. To identify potential intervention targets, this study deals with the challenges healthcare providers in general practice face in EoL care situations including patients, caregivers and networks. Methods: Focus group discussions with general practice teams in Germany were conducted to identify barriers to and enablers of an optimal support for family caregivers. Focus group discussions were analysed using content analysis. Results: Nineteen providers from 11 general practices took part in 4 focus group discussions. Participants identified challenges in communication with patients, caregivers and within the professional network. Communication with patients and caregivers focused on non-verbal messages, communicating at an appropriate time and perceiving patient and caregiver as a unit of care. Practice teams perceive themselves as an important part of the healthcare network, but also report difficulties in communication and cooperation with other healthcare providers. Conclusion: Healthcare providers in general practice identified relational challenges in daily primary palliative care with potential implications for EoL care. Communication and collaboration with patients, caregivers and among healthcare providers give opportunities for improving palliative care with a focus on the patient-caregiver dyad. It is insufficient to demand a (professional) support network; existing structures need to be recognized and included into the care.
Family caregivers may experience emotional and relational distress due to decreased intimacy and communication with their loved one at end-of-life. The purpose of the study was to examine intimacy behaviors in a family-patient relationship at the end-of-life with the central research question: Is there a difference in frequency of family caregivers’ intimacy acts, defined and recorded as verbal intimacy, affective intimacy, and physical intimacy with their dying loved one when comparing music therapy and chaplaincy? Ten patient and family caregiver dyads participated in both a 15-min music therapy session, and a 15-min chaplaincy session in a randomized controlled crossover trial with AB/BA design. Sessions were video recorded and analyzed using the Family Intimacy Observation Scale, a researcher-developed tool. Intimacy behaviors were compared using the Wilcoxon Signed-rank Test. Music therapy resulted in statistically significant higher affective intimacy and physical intimacy behaviors toward a dying loved one when compared to chaplaincy. No statistically significant differences were found in overall verbal intimacy; however, the verbal behavior of “letting go of loved one” was significantly higher in music therapy versus chaplaincy. Music therapy may be an effective therapeutic modality to increase emotional and physical intimacy in a family-patient relationship at the end-of-life.
Background: Previous work shows that more affluent patients with cancer are more likely to die at home, whereas those dying from non-cancer conditions are more likely to die in hospital. Family caregivers are an important factor in determining place of death. Aim: To investigate associations between family caregivers' household income, patients' access to specialist palliative care and place of patients' death, by level of personal end-of-life care. Design: A cross-sectional community household population survey. Setting and participants: Respondents to the Household Survey for England. Results: One-third of 1265 bereaved respondents had provided personal end-of-life care (caregivers) (30%). Just over half (55%) of decedents accessed palliative care services and 15% died in a hospice. Place of death and access to palliative care were strongly related (p < 0.001). Palliative care services reduced the proportion of deaths in hospital (p < 0.001), and decedents accessing palliative care were more likely to die at home than those who did not (p < 0.001). Respondents' income was not associated with palliative care access (p = 0.233). Overall, respondents' income and home death were not related (p = 0.106), but decedents with caregivers in the highest income group were least likely to die at home (p = 0.069). Conclusion: For people who had someone close to them die, decedents' access to palliative care services was associated with fewer deaths in hospital and more home deaths. Respondents' income was unrelated to care recipients' place of death when adjusted for palliative care access. When only caregivers were considered, decedents with caregivers from higher income quartiles were the least likely to die at home. Family caregivers from higher income brackets are likely to be powerful patient advocates. Caregiver information needs must be addressed especially with regard to stage of disease, aim of care and appropriate interventions at the end of life.
Background: Little is known about the experiences of family caregivers of hospitalized patients with confirmed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus/multiresistant gram-negative bacteria (MRSA/MRGN) diagnosis at the end of life. The study at hand is a subproject of an interdisciplinary cooperation project that aims at developing a patient-, family-, and team-centered approach in dealing with MRSA/MRGN-positive hospitalized patients in palliative and geriatric care. Objectives: The present study aimed to assess the individual effects of the patient's MRSA/MRGN colonization or infection and isolation measures on family caregivers. Design: Between April 2014 and September 2015, all known family caregivers associated with an MRSA/MRGN-positive patient from a palliative care unit, a hospital palliative care support team, and a geriatric ward were considered for study participation. A qualitative interview study with family caregivers and an additional focus group was conducted. Data were analyzed using the principles of Grounded Theory. Results: Family caregivers ( N = 62) raised suggestions regarding the provision of information and communication on the MRSA/MRGN diagnosis and hygiene measures from staff members and the consistency of hygiene procedures. Family caregivers requested not to be stigmatized or being disadvantaged due to the MRSA/MRGN diagnosis of the patient, and they wished to receive psychosocial and emotional support. Conclusions: Staff members and institutional stakeholders should be aware that family caregivers might be burdened and upset by positive MRSA/MRGN diagnosis and the required hygiene measures. The need for detailed and understandable information on MRSA/MRGN, adequate communication between staff members and family caregivers, and support for family caregivers should be of special attention in particular in end-of-life care.
Background: There are few studies on bereaved caregiver's perceptions of physician behavior toward death pronouncement. Although previous research indicates that most caregivers are satisfied with physician behavior toward death pronouncement at home hospices, bereaved caregiver's perceptions of death pronouncement in palliative care units (PCUs) have not been investigated. Objective: The aim was to examine bereaved caregiver's perceptions of physician behavior toward death pronouncement in PCUs. Design and Methods: This was a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of bereaved caregivers who had lost a family member in a PCU. Measures were based on a previous study to assess bereaved caregiver's evaluations of physician behavior toward death pronouncement. Results: Of 861 questionnaires sent to bereaved caregivers, 480 responses were analyzed. Overall, 86% of bereaved caregivers were satisfied with physician behavior toward death pronouncement. Logistic regression analysis revealed three predictors of caregiver satisfaction: "Polite behavior" (odds ratio [OR]: 0.12; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0.03-0.46; p < 0.01), "Physician introduced himself/herself to family" (OR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.1-0.8; p = 0.02) and "Physician confirmed death automatically or routinely" (OR: 11.6; 95% CI: 4.7-28.4; p < 0.01). Caregivers whose family member's death was confirmed by the primarily responsible physician were significantly more satisfied than those whose family member's death was confirmed by an unfamiliar physician. Conclusions: Most caregivers who lost family members in PCUs were satisfied by the physician's behavior toward death pronouncement. Politeness was one of the most important factors associated with caregiver satisfaction.
Purpose: Family caregivers play a significant role in the care of cancer patients, especially in their end of life. Identifying and meeting the needs of these caregivers is essential to improving their quality of patient care. This study was conducted to identify the unmet needs of the caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients. Methods: A total of 18 semi-structured interviews were held with the family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients using purposive sampling. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results: The analysis of the data led to the formation of three main categories, including social needs, cognitive needs, and psychological needs. The social needs category comprised of the subcategories of support for care, effective communication and financial support. The cognitive needs category comprised of educational support and support in decision-making. The psychological needs category comprised of support for psychological trauma, preparation to confront the reality of the death of a loved one, and support for mourning. Conclusions: The family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients take on the responsibility of many aspects of care for their patient, but many of their own needs remain unmet. The findings of this study can be used for healthcare policy planning and the development of palliative interventions, particularly for the family caregivers of end-of-life cancer patients.
OBJECTIVE The aim of this descriptive study was to determine challenges experienced by and quality of life of relatives of cancer patients requiring palliative care at home. METHODS This research was conducted with the relatives of patients hospitalized in the palliative care service. Data collection tools used in the study were the "Questionnaire to Assess Challenges of Home Care Providers" and the "Caregiver Quality of Life Index-Cancer Scale" (CQOLC). RESULTS Mean age of the caregivers was 44.4±13.2. Of them, 50% were women. Of the women, 61.7% were housewives. Of all caregivers, 75% had difficulty fulfilling their responsibilities, 53.3% experienced problems in maintaining family relationships, 96.7% did not utilize home care services, and 43% did not receive information about home care. The caregivers also had trouble managing the following issues: pain (80%), nausea/vomiting (70%), defecation (56.7%), and mobility (35%). Mean CQOLC score of the caregivers was 49.7. Mean score on subscales of the CQOLC was 21.58 on the burden subscale, 39.7 on the disruptiveness subscale, 57.7 on the financial concern subscale, and 116.1 on the positive adaptation subscale. Respondents' quality of life was generally low. CONCLUSION Palliative care team should be aware of the needs of caregivers and provide support. Expanding the scope and content of palliative and home healthcare services, improving the quality of these services, and organizing well-educated teams in this branch will better meet the needs of patients and their caregivers and promote their quality of life.
We examined psychological parameters in family caregivers of palliative cancer patients before and after the death of the patients. Caregivers’ data about depression and anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), quality‐of‐life (Short Form‐8 Health Survey), and social support (Oslo Social Support Scale) were collected at the beginning of home care (t1) and 2 months after the patient had died (t2). Regression models were employed to examine factors related to depression and anxiety in the bereaved caregivers. We interviewed 72 relatives, who were the primary caregiver of a patient. One‐third (31.9%) of caregivers had high anxiety levels and 29.2% had high depression levels (t1, cut‐off = 10). At t2, anxiety and depression had decreased significantly. There were no changes in quality‐of‐life over time. At both points of assessments, quality‐of‐life was lower than in the general population. Relevant factors for higher anxiety and depression in the bereaved caregivers were high levels of distress at t1, insufficient social support and low physical function. Bereaved caregivers were particularly depressed when they had been the spouse of the patient. Healthcare professionals should consider social isolation of caring relatives both during homecare and afterwards. Thus, it seems to be important to routinely offer support to spouses.
In recent years, end-of-life care has been receiving attention in the lay and professional press. Integral to the concerns for patient-centered supportive care is the need to focus on the family caregiver, as they are directly involved in the patient's care. This article describes relevant challenges for the family caregiver, including information about types of care, scheduling and logistics, patient physical care, including symptom management, caregiver emotional and physical health, advance directives, coordination of care, and communication. It concludes by imagining a better system of end-of-life care for patients and caregivers.
Background: Carer factors prevent patients achieving timely and appropriate hospital discharge. There is a lack of research into interventions to support carers at hospital discharge. Aim: To explore whether and how family carers are currently supported during patient discharge at end of life; to assess perceived benefits, acceptability and feasibility of using The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) Approach in the hospital setting to support carers. Design: Qualitative. Setting/participants: Three National Health Service Trusts in England: focus groups with 40 hospital and community-based practitioners and 22 carer interviews about experiences of carer support during hospital discharge and views of The CSNAT Approach. Two workshops brought together 14 practitioners and five carers to discuss implementation issues. Framework analysis was conducted. Results: Current barriers to supporting carers at hospital discharge were an organisational focus on patients' needs, what practitioners perceived as carers' often 'unrealistic expectations' of end-of-life caregiving at home and lack of awareness of patients' end-of-life situation. The CSNAT Approach was viewed as enabling carer support and addressing difficulties of discussing the realities of supporting someone at home towards end of life. Implementation in hospital required organisational considerations of practitioner workload and training. To enhance carer support, a two-stage process of assessment and support (hospital with community follow-up) was suggested using the CSNAT as a carer-held record to manage the transition. Conclusion: This study identifies a novel intervention, which expands the focus of discharge planning to include assessment of carers' support needs at transition, potentially preventing breakdown of care at home and patient readmissions to hospital.
Context: There is a scarcity of early palliative care interventions to support family caregivers of persons with advanced cancer living in the rural Southern U.S. Objective: The objective of this study was to adapt the content, format, and delivery of a six session, palliative care, telehealth intervention with monthly follow-up for rural family caregivers to enhance their own self-care and caregiving skills. Methods: Qualitative formative evaluation consisting of one-on-one, semistructured interviews with rural-dwelling persons with metastatic cancer (n = 18), their primary family caregiver (n = 20), and lay patient navigators (n = 26) were conducted to elicit feedback on a family caregiver intervention outline based on published evidence-based interventions. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Coinvestigators reviewed and refined preliminary themes. Results: Participants recommended that intervention topical content be flexible and has an adaptable format based on continuous needs assessment. Sessions should be 20 minutes long at minimum, and additional sessions should be offered if requested. Faith and spirituality is essential to address but should not be an overarching intervention theme. Content needs to be communicated in simple language. Intervention delivery via telephone is acceptable, but face-to-face contact is desired to establish relationships. Other Internet-based technologies (e.g., video-conferencing) could be helpful, but many rural dwellers may not be technology savvy or have Internet access. Most lay navigators believed they could lead the intervention with additional training, protocols for professional referral, and supervision by specialty-trained palliative care clinicians. Conclusions: A potentially scalable palliative care intervention is being adapted for family caregivers of rural-dwelling persons with advanced cancer and will undergo piloting in a small-scale randomized controlled trial.
Aim: To explore the experience and the preparedness of family carers in their caregiving role as best interest decision-makers of a relative living with advanced dementia. Background: The prevalence of dementia is a global issue. The role of being a carer of a relative living with dementia does not necessarily lessen once they are admitted to a nursing home. Best interest decision-making including end-of-life care decisions need to be made and reaching these choices can be challenging. The preparedness of family carers in this role needs greater understanding. Design: Descriptive qualitative study. Methods: During 2015 twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted of family carers of nursing home residents living with advanced dementia, then analysed using Braun and Clarke's thematic analysis. Results: Three themes were identified: (1) Caring for someone living with dementia. The impact on the carer's holistic well-being and their experience of being a best interest decision-maker; (2) Accessing support. The influential nature of formal and informal networks; (3) Perceived knowledge and understanding of the dementia trajectory of carers and nursing staff. Conclusion: The experiences and preparedness of informal carers is a reflection of their personal response, but the distress experienced highlights the significant need of adequate support availability and of enhancing nursing staffs' dementia expertise to maximize their role in facilitating best interest decision-making. This has significant implications for nursing practice and for service user and nursing staff education. Considering the global impact of dementia, our findings have international relevance to similar nursing homes across the world.
It is important to ensure regional variances are considered when setting future end-of-life research priorities, given the differing demographics and service provision. This project sought to identify end-of-life research priorities within Greater Manchester (United Kingdom). Following an initial scoping exercise, six topics within the 10 national priorities outlined by The Palliative and end-of-life care Priority Setting Partnership were selected for exploration. A workshop involving 32 healthcare professionals and a consultation process with 26 family carers was conducted. Healthcare professionals and carers selected and discussed the topics important to them. The topics selected most frequently by both healthcare professionals and carers were 'Access to 24 hour care', 'Planning end-of-life care in advance' and 'Staff and carer education'. Healthcare professionals also developed research questions for their topics of choice which were refined to incorporate carers' views. These questions are an important starting point for future end-of-life research within Greater Manchester.
Context: Many family caregivers are not prepared for the death of their family member or friend. Palliative care services tend to emphasize the patients' preparation for death rather than caregivers' preparation for, or living after, death. Caregivers' perspectives on anticipating and preparing for death are under-researched, despite preparation being associated with better bereavement outcomes. Objectives: The objective was to explore family caregivers' preparations for death. Methods: A total of 16 family caregivers of people in receipt of palliative care participated in semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using grounded theory techniques. Results: Analysis yielded two overarching themes: Here and Now centered on the caregivers' focus on the multidimensional and all-consuming nature of caregiving for someone who is near death. Negotiating the Here/After described the tension the caregivers faced in vacillating between focusing on the care during the illness trajectory (Here) and worries and plans for the future (After). Conclusion: This exploratory study is the first to focus solely on family caregivers' experiences of preparing for a death. The caregivers described the complexities of trying to prepare while feeling overwhelmed with demands of caregiving throughout an unpredictable illness trajectory. The caregivers in the present study were cognitively prepared, some were behaviorally prepared, but emotional preparedness was challenging. Services should not assume that all family caregivers are well-prepared for the death. Caregivers would likely benefit from the assessment and promotion of their death preparedness.
Background: Outpatient palliative care (PC) has been shown to positively impact quality of life and decrease healthcare utilization, but there are limited data describing what activities render these benefits. Objective: Describe the topics addressed by an outpatient PC team during scheduled visits. Design: Longitudinal cohort study. Setting: The Symptom Management Service, an ambulatory PC program at an academic comprehensive cancer center. Measurement: Between March 23, 2015 and June 14, 2016, outpatient PC providers completed a checklist after each clinic visit, documenting topics covered during the visit. Results: During the study period, 1243 visits were conducted for 577 unique patients. Symptom management was the topic most commonly addressed during initial visits (in 92% of visits), followed by an introduction of PC (69%), support for family caregivers (47%), and communication with other clinicians (38%). Providers also supported patients to understand their prognosis (28%), treatment options (36%), and to make care decisions (22%). Formal advance care planning activities occurred infrequently, however, including designation of a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (26%), completion of an advance directive or Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form (10%), and discussing hospice (8%). Follow-up visits were dominated by symptom management (93%) and caregiver support (27%). Conclusions: Symptom management, support for family and caregivers, and care coordination are the most common activities that occurred during scheduled outpatient PC visits. These findings can guide developing PC practices, as well as clinicians who provide primary PC.
Objective: In December 2016, 66 health leaders from 14 countries convened at the Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) to engage in cross-cultural and collaborative discussions centered on 'Rethinking Care Toward the End of Life'. Conversations focused on global perspectives on death and dying, challenges experienced by researchers, physicians, patients and family caregivers. This paper summarizes key findings and recommendations from SGS. Design: Featured sessions focused on critical issues of end of life care led by key stakeholders, physicians, researchers, and other global leaders in palliative care. Sessions spanned across several critical themes including: patient/family/caregiver engagement, integrating health and community-based social care, eliciting and honoring patient preferences, building an evidence base for palliative care, learning from system failures, and delivering end of life care in low-resource countries. Sessions were followed by intensive collaborative discussions which helped formulate key recommendations for rethinking and ultimately advancing end of life care. Results: Prominent lessons learned from SGS include learning from low-resource countries, development of evidence-based quality measures, implementing changes in training and education, and respecting the personal agency of patients and their families. Conclusion: There is a global need to rethink, and ultimately revolutionize end of life care in all countries. This paper outlines key aspects of end of life care that warrant explicit improvement through specific action from key stakeholders.
Purpose Of the Study: (1) To identify the main predictors of the emotional state of the frail elderly at the end-of-life and that of their primary family caregivers, taking into consideration the presence/absence of significant cognitive impairment in the patient and (2) to analyse the relationship between the emotional state of the patient and that of their primary family caregiver.; Methods: Our study is cross-sectional. 85 frail elderly patients at the end-of-life and their primary family caregivers participated. Information on the following aspects was collected: (1) From the patients: Socio-demographics, Functional independence, and Cognitive and Emotional state; (2) From the caregivers: Socio-demographics, Emotional state and Overburden (according to Zarit Scale). Descriptive, correlational and linear regression analyses were computed using SPSS.; Results: The models that best predict the observed variance in the emotional state of patients (with or without significant cognitive impairment) include the same variables: functional independence of the patient and caregiver's overburden. Similarly, the models that best predict the observed variance in the emotional state of family caregivers include: cognitive state of the patient and caregiver's overburden.; Implications: The overburden of the family caregiver stands out as a key factor in the reduction of the emotional distress of frail elder patients -whether or not they present significant cognitive impairment- and that of their family caregivers. Our results suggest that reducing overburden of the family caregiver may also reduce the emotional distress of the patient and that of their family caregiver.; Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Background: End-of-life care must be relevant to the dying person and their family caregiver regardless of where they live. Rural areas are distinct and need special consideration. Gaining end-of-life care experiences and perspectives of rural patients and their family caregivers is needed to ensure optimal rural care.; Aims: To describe end-of-life care experiences and perspectives of rural patients and their family caregivers, to identify facilitators and barriers to receiving end-of-life care in rural/remote settings and to describe the influence of rural place and culture on end-of-life care experiences.; Design: A systematic literature review utilising the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.; Data Sources: Four databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus and Web of Science) were searched in January 2016, using a date filter of January 2006 through January 2016; handsearching of included article references and six relevant journals; one author contacted; pre-defined search terms and inclusion criteria; and quality assessment by at least two authors.; Results: A total of 27 articles (22 rural/remote studies) from developed and developing countries were included, reporting rural end-of-life care experiences and perspectives of patients and family caregivers. Greatest needs were informational (developed countries) and medications (developing countries). Influence of rural location included distances, inaccessibility to end-of-life care services, strong community support and importance of home and 'country'.; Conclusion: Articulation of the rural voice is increasing; however, there still remain limited published rural studies reporting on patient and family caregivers' experiences and perspectives on rural end-of-life care. Further research is encouraged, especially through national and international collaborative work.
Objective: Severe grief symptoms in family caregivers during end-of-life cancer trajectories are associated with complicated grief and depression after the loss. Nevertheless, severe grief symptoms during end-of-life caregiving in caregivers to cancer patients have been scarcely studied. We aimed to explore associations between severe preloss grief symptoms in caregivers and modifiable factors such as depressive symptoms, caregiver burden, preparedness for death, and end-of-life communication.; Methods: We conducted a population-based prospective study of caregivers to 9512 patients registered with drug reimbursement due to terminal illness, and 3635 caregivers responded. Of these, 2865 caregivers to cancer patients completed a preloss grief scale (Prolonged Grief 13, preloss version). Associations with factors measured during end-of-life caregiving were analyzed using logistic regression.; Results: Severe preloss grief symptoms were reported by 432 caregivers (15.2%). These symptoms were associated with depressive symptoms (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 12.4; 95% CI, 9.5-16.3), high caregiver burden (adjusted OR = 8.3; 95% CI, 6.3-11.1), low preparedness for death (adjusted OR = 3.3; 95% CI, 2.5-4.4), low level of communication about dying (adjusted OR = 3.2; 95% CI, 2.2-4.4), and "too much" prognostic information (adjusted OR = 2.8; 95%, 1.7-4.6).; Conclusions: Severe preloss grief symptoms were significantly associated with distress, low preparedness, and little communication during caregiving. Thus, severe preloss grief symptoms may be a key indicator for complications in caregivers of cancer patients in an end-of-life trajectory. Targeted interventions are needed to support family caregivers with severe preloss grief symptoms. Development of preloss grief assessment tools and interventions should be a priority target in future research.; Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Objective: The psychological and psychiatric symptoms of terminally ill cancer patients are highly problematic and have been associated with greater burden among caregivers. Until now, the extent of these problems in the home care setting was unclear.; Methods: This retrospective study was conducted as part of a nationwide survey from the perspective of bereaved family members in Japan (J-HOPE3). The bereaved family members rated the symptoms of delirium and suicidal ideation of patients with cancer, and the sleeplessness and depressed mood of family caregivers utilizing home care services in the one month before the patients' deaths. Regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with caregivers' sleeplessness or depressed mood.; Results: Of the 532 subjects analyzed, between 17% and 65% of patients experienced various symptoms of delirium, and 27% suicidal ideation. Among family caregivers, 60% experienced sleeplessness and 35% experienced depressed mood at least once during the week. Caregivers' psychological symptoms were associated with their own poor health status, being the spouse of the patient, and the patients' psychological or psychiatric symptoms. To manage patients' symptoms, 11% of caregivers had consulted psychiatrists or psychologists while another 11% wanted to do so.; Conclusion: Psychological problems assessed were common among patients with cancer and their family caregivers in the one month of home care prior to the patient's death. An effective complementary care system, run by home-visit physicians, nurses, and experts in mental disorders, is needed.; Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to ascertain how bereaved caregivers of a family member who died from a dementia-related diagnosis (a) define preparedness and (b) perceive its value.; Design and Methods: Purposive criterion sampling was employed to identify 30 bereaved caregivers of family members aged 65 and older who died with a dementia-related diagnosis. In-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted over a 12-month period, and qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data.; Results: Only one third (n = 10) of caregivers interviewed were prepared for the death, and the majority who were prepared were enrolled in hospice. Five primary themes revealed ways that caregivers define various domains of preparedness: (i) accepting reality; (ii) knowing death is near; (iii) getting your "house in order"; (iv) saying "what you need to say"; and (v) giving "permission" to die. The majority (87%) believed that it is important for caregivers to be prepared, and the value of preparedness was exemplified in five domains reflecting the benefits of being prepared.; Implications: The results support further attention to the development and testing of interventions to address the unmet needs of caregivers of family members with dementia to help prepare them for the death in a variety of contexts.; © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: Patients with advanced diseases often experience deficient continuity of care. Although integrated palliative care promotes continuity of care, it is not clear how it can be optimized to improve continuity of care experiences.; Aim: To examine how relational, informational and management continuity of care are experienced by patients with advanced diseases and their family caregivers receiving care from several integrated palliative care initiatives in five European countries.; Design: We adopted a longitudinal qualitative study design including two interviews (interval 3 months) with patients and family caregivers focusing on how health care professionals responded to their needs. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis involved a two-step qualitative content approach.; Setting/participants: A total of 22 integrated palliative care initiatives (established local palliative care collaborations) were selected in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We recruited 152 patients (63% cancer, 24% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 13% heart failure; life expectancy <1 year; mean age 68 years, 56% female) and 92 family caregivers (mean age 61 years, 66% female).; Results: Trusted relationships with a small number of key health care professionals to receive tailored care and easily access help were essential. Relational continuity was often deficient, especially with general practitioners. Although informational and management continuity was often lacking in care provision, collaborative integrated palliative care initiatives were related to consistent and coherent care.; Conclusion: Patients and family caregivers most likely experience continuity of care by having a small number of trusted health care professionals who are available, provide multidisciplinary care and regularly transfer information to all health care professionals involved. Optimizing continuity of care requires further integration of integrated palliative care initiatives with other health care professionals involved in the patients' care networks.
Background: A key challenge in meeting the palliative care needs of people in advanced age is the multiple healthcare and social service agencies typically involved in their care. The 'patient navigator' model, originally developed in cancer care, is the professional solution most often recommended to address this challenge. However, little attention has been paid, or is known, about the role that family carers play in enabling their dying relatives to negotiate service gaps. Aim: To explore the role family caregivers play in helping people dying in advanced old age navigate health services at the end of life. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews and analysed via thematic analysis. Setting/participants: A total of 58 interviews were conducted in New Zealand with the family caregivers of 52 deceased older relatives who had been participants in Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand. Results: Fragmentation of services was the key concern, causing distress both for the older person and their family caregivers. Carers identified and engaged with appropriate services in order to facilitate care and treatment. Their involvement was not always met by healthcare professionals with respect or regard to their knowledge of the older person's needs. Conclusion: Family caregivers are trying to help their older relatives overcome the limitations of fragmented health systems at the end of life. They are doing so at times by stepping in to perform patient navigator tasks usually conceptualised as a role for statutory services to carry out. Programmes and services need to be implemented that will better support family carers who are acting as care navigators.
Background: Internationally, evidence on the support needs of family carers who look after a terminally ill adult in home settings is incomplete. Aim: To illustrate the relevance of 'relevant background worries' in family carers' accounts of caring at home for a dying adult. Design: A qualitative cross-sectional observational study was conducted in England, United Kingdom, in 2011-2013 on the experiences of adult family carers (n = 59) of older dying adults (aged 50+ years) with malignant and/or non-malignant conditions. Interviews occurred post-bereavement. This article reports on a subset of participants' interview transcripts (n = 30) where narrative analysis was undertaken. Setting/participants: Carers were interviewed in their home setting, having been purposively recruited via general practitioner practices in two study sites in England. The subset of participants (n = 30) was purposively selected from the parent sample with reference to carers' age, relationship to the patient, family circumstances and study sites. Results: Evidence is provided on the importance of what we conceptualise as carers' 'relevant background worries'; these varied in nature, significance and impact. Four case studies are presented where these worries constituted psychosocial factors that impacted on caregivers' actions and emotional well-being. Two themes are discussed: (1) whether relevant background worries are important enough to be identified and responded to and (2) how such worries could be picked up and managed by professionals. Conclusion: It is argued that the quality of clinical practice could be improved if specialist palliative care teams in community contexts both identified and responded to significant support needs associated with family carers' relevant background worries
Introduction: Most people in France die in the hospital, even though a majority would like to die at home. These end-of-life hospital admissions sometimes occur in the emergency setting, in the hours preceding death.; Objective: To understand the motives that incite main natural caregivers to transfer terminally ill patients at the end of life to the emergency department.; Methods: A qualitative study was performed among caregivers of terminally ill patients receiving palliative care and living at home, and who died within 72hours of being admitted to the emergency department of the University Hospital of Besançon, France.; Results: Eight interviews were performed; average duration 48minutes. The caregivers described the difficult conditions of daily life, characterised by marked anguish about what the future might hold. Although they were aware that the patient was approaching the end of life, the caregivers did not imagine the death at all. The transfer to the emergency department was considered as a logical event, occurring in the continuity of the home care, and was not in any way criticised, even long after death had occurred. Overall, the caregivers had a positive opinion of how the end-of-life accompaniment went.; Discussion: Difficulty in imagining death at home is underpinned by its unpredictable nature, and by the accumulation of suffering and anguish in the caregiver. Hospital admission and medicalisation of death help to channel the caregiver's anguish. In order to improve end-of-life accompaniment, it is mandatory to make home management more reassuring for the patient and their family.; Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
Purpose: The disease and treatment trajectory of patients with high-grade glioma is a burdensome period for the patients' closest relatives who become informal caregivers. Caregivers experiencing this demanding shift in role are at risk of developing symptoms such as depression. Few studies have explored the needs and experiences of bereaved caregivers, and there is lack of evidence-based practice. This study explores the perspectives of newly bereaved caregivers to patients with high-grade glioma on end-of-life caregiving and bereavement.; Methods: This qualitative exploratory study was composed of individual semistructured telephone interviews with bereaved caregivers (n = 8) to patients with high-grade glioma who deceased during participation in the mixed-methods Neuro-oncological Rehabilitation study. A thematic analysis was conducted following Braun and Clarke's guidelines.; Results: Four main themes were identified concerning the bereavement experience: (1) late-stage caregiving is comprehensive and taxing, (2) releasing the responsibility of the primary caregiving role, (3) feelings of grief and relief, and (4) suggestions for clinical practice.; Conclusion: Late-stage caregiving is a difficult and challenging experience at the end of an already burdening treatment trajectory. Caregivers prefer to actively share responsibility and practical tasks with professionals, family, and friends. The bereaved caregivers' key areas of concern indicate the need for additional research in advance care planning within neuro-oncology caregiving to establish evidence-based practice guidelines and recommendations
Background:Caregiver satisfaction and experience surveys help health professionals to understand, measure, and improve the quality of care provided for patients and their families.Objective: Our aim was to explore caregiver perceptions of the care received from Australian specialist palliative care services.Method: Caregivers of patients receiving palliative care in services registered with Australia's Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration were invited to participate in a caregiver survey. The survey included the FAMCARE-2 and four items from the Ongoing Needs Identification: Caregiver Profile questionnaire.Results: Surveys were completed by 1,592 caregivers from 49 services. Most respondents reported high satisfaction and positive experiences. Caregivers receiving care from community-based palliative care teams were less satisfied with the management of physical symptoms and comfort (odds ratio [OR] = 0.29; 95% confidence interval [CI95%] = 0.14, 0.59), with patient psychological care (OR = 0.56; CI95% = 0.32, 0.98), and with family support (OR = 0.52; CI95% = 0.35, 0.77) than caregivers of patients in an inpatient setting. If aged over 60 years, caregivers were less likely to have their information needs met regarding available support services (OR = 0.98; CI95% = 0.97, 0.98) and carer payments (OR = 0.99; CI95% = 0.98, 1.00). Also, caregivers were less likely to receive adequate information about carer payments if located in an outer regional area (OR = 0.41; CI95% = 0.25, 0.64). With practical training, caregivers receiving care from community services reported inadequate information provision to support them in caring for patients (OR = 0.60; CI95% = 0.45, 0.81).Significance Of Results: While our study identified caregivers as having positive and satisfactory experiences across all domains of care, there is room for improvement in the delivery of palliative care across symptom management, as well as patient and caregiver support, especially in community settings. Caregiver surveys can facilitate the identification and evaluation of both patients' and caregivers' experiences, satisfaction, distress, and unmet needs.
Purpose: This study investigated the effect of family members on terminally ill cancer patients by measuring the relationship of the presence of the family caregivers, visiting time by family and friends, and family adaptability and cohesion with patient's anxiety and depression.; Methods: From June, 2016 to March, 2017, 100 terminally ill cancer patients who were admitted to a palliative care unit in Seoul, South Korea, were surveyed, and their medical records were reviewed. The Korean version of the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales III and Hospital Anxiety-Depression Scale was used. Chi-square and multiple logistic regression analyses were used.; Results: The results of the chi-square analysis showed that the presence of family caregivers and family visit times did not have statistically significant effects on anxiety and depression in terminally ill cancer patients. In multiple logistic regression, when adjusted for age, sex, ECOG PS, and the monthly average income, the odds ratios (ORs) of the low family adaptability to anxiety and depression were 2.4 (1.03-5.83) and 5.4 (1.10-26.87), respectively. The OR of low family cohesion for depression was 5.4 (1.10-27.20) when adjusted for age, sex, ECOG PS, and monthly average household income.; Conclusions: A higher family adaptability resulted in a lower degree of anxiety and depression in terminally ill cancer patients. The higher the family cohesion, the lower the degree of depression in the patient. The presence of the family caregiver and the visiting time by family and friends did not affect the patient's anxiety and depression.
Context: The investigation of the situation of bereaved family caregivers following caregiving during the end-of-life phase of illness has not received enough attention. Objectives: This study investigated the extent to which using the Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) intervention during the caregiving period has affected bereaved family caregivers' perceptions of adequacy of support, their grief and well-being, and achievement of their preferred place of death. Method: All family caregivers who participated in a stepped-wedge cluster trial of the CSNAT intervention in Western Australia (2012-2014) and completed the pre-bereavement study (n = 322) were invited to take part in a caregiver survey by telephone four to six months after bereavement (2015). The survey measured the adequacy of end-of-life support, the level of grief, the current physical and mental health, and the achievement of the preferred place of death. Results: The response rate was 66% (152, intervention; 60, control). The intervention group perceived that their pre-bereavement support needs had been adequately met to a significantly greater extent than the control group (d = 0.43, P < 0.001) and that patients have achieved their preferred place of death more often according to their caregivers (79.6% vs. 63.6%, P = 0.034). There was also a greater agreement on the preferred place of death between patients and their caregivers in the intervention group (P = 0.02). Conclusions: The results from this study provide evidence that the CSNAT intervention has a positive impact on perceived adequacy of support of bereaved family caregivers and achievement of preferred place of death according to caregivers. The benefits gained by caregivers in being engaged in early and direct assessment of their support needs before bereavement reinforce the need for palliative care services to effectively support caregivers well before the patient's death.
Background: Dementia syndromes pose a major worldwide challenge to public health. In terminal stage of dementia, carers are responsible for decision making in end-of-life treatment and there may be multiple factors that contribute to the choice of a palliative or invasive treatment.; Aim: To identify possible factors that influence the decision-making of family caregivers on implementing invasive or palliative interventions for people with end stage dementia.; Design: A structured interview with family caregivers of elderly patients addressing aspects of the following categories: elderly with dementia, caregiver, medical treatment history. Statistical analysis was performed to test whether there was a significant association between the carer's decision (invasive or palliative treatment) and the collected variables.; Settingand Participants: The study was conducted in three hospitals in Brazil. Participants were family caregivers of inpatients with end stage dementia RESULTS: Most of caregivers chose not to perform invasive procedures. The factors with the greatest association with the decision for invasive care were: elderly with tracheostomy, dementia diagnosis for less than 2 years, caregiver's age less than 50 years, history of hospital admission in the last year, affirmation that interviewee would be surprised with the death of the elderly within 1year and the denial that health care team has already explained about treatment options.; Conclusion: There were identified several factors related to the carer, the elderly person and their medical treatment that may influence the choice between palliative and invasive care for the elderly person with dementia.; Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Background: New public health approaches to palliative care prioritise the role of community at end of life. However, little is known about community support for the increasing numbers of people dying in advanced age. Aim: To explore the role of community at end of life for people dying in advanced age from the perspective of their bereaved family caregivers. Design: A constructionist framework underpinned a qualitative research design. Data were analysed using critical thematic analysis. Setting/participants: A total of 58 participants (19 Māori and 39 non-Māori) who cared for 52 family members who died at >80 years of age participated in semi-structured interviews. Results: A reduction in the social networks and community engagement of the older person was identified in the end-of-life period. Numerous barriers to community engagement in advanced age were identified, including poor health (notably dementia), moving into an aged care facility and lack of access due to transport difficulties. An active withdrawal from community at end of life was also noted. Carers felt limited support from community currently, but identified that communities could play a particular role in reducing social isolation and loneliness among people of advanced age prior to death. Conclusion: Our study provides strong support for public health approaches to palliative care that advocate building social networks around people who are dying and their family carers. However, it also indicates that strategies to do so must be flexible enough to be responsive to the unique end-of-life circumstances of people in advanced age.
Context:Thousands of family members worldwide are annually involved in assisted dying. Family participation in assisted dying has rarely been investigated and families' needs typically are not considered in assisted dying legislation and clinical guidelines. Objectives: To explore family caregivers' reflections on experiences of assisted suicide in Switzerland. Methods: A cross-sectional qualitative interview study conducted in the Italian- and French-speaking regions of Switzerland. Interpretation and analysis were performed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Twenty-eight close relatives and family carers of 18 patients who died by assisted suicide in Switzerland were interviewed. Family members perceived their involvement in assisted suicide as characterized by five phases; 1) contemplation, 2) gaining acceptance, 3) gaining permission, 4) organization, and 5) aftermath. Families can participate in these phases at diverse levels and with varying degrees of involvement. Important triggers for families and patients for transition between phases include patients' experiences of their life-threatening illnesses and related treatments, their increasing awareness of approaching death, and family member recognition of their loved one's unbearable suffering. Participating in assisted suicide created further demanding tasks for families in addition to their role of caregivers. Conclusion: Families appeared to be involved in the preparation of assisted suicide along with patients, irrespective of their personal values regarding assisted dying. Support for family members is essential if they are involved in tasks preparatory to assisted suicide. Clinical guidelines and policies concerning assisted dying should acknowledge and address family needs.
Objectives: To explore the experiences of caregivers of terminally ill patients with delirium, to determine the potential role of caregivers in the management of delirium at the end of life, to identify the support required to improve caregiver experience and to help the caregiver support the patient. Methods: Four electronic databases were searched-PsychInfo, Medline, Cinahl and Scopus from January 2000 to July 2015 using the terms 'delirium', 'terminal restlessness' or 'agitated restlessness' combined with 'carer' or 'caregiver' or 'family' or 'families'. Thirty-three papers met the inclusion criteria and remained in the final review. Results: Papers focused on (i) caregiver experience-distress, deteriorating relationships, balancing the need to relieve suffering with desire to communicate and helplessness versus control; (ii) the caregiver role-detection and prevention of delirium, symptom monitoring and acting as a patient advocate; and (iii) caregiver support-information needs, advice on how to respond to the patient, interventions to improve caregiver outcomes and interventions delivered by caregivers to improve patient outcomes. Conclusion: High levels of distress are experienced by caregivers of patients with delirium. Distress is heightened because of the potential irreversibility of delirium in palliative care settings and uncertainty around whether the caregiver-patient relationship can be re-established before death. Caregivers can contribute to the management of patient delirium. Additional intervention studies with informational, emotional and behavioural components are required to improve support for caregivers and to help the caregiver support the patient. Reducing caregiver distress should be a goal of any future intervention.
Background: Health professionals commonly underestimate caregiver needs for information about palliative care, death and dying and may feel poorly prepared to discuss these issues. Few studies have sought caregiver perspectives of these communication practices. Aim: To explore caregiver perspectives on communication about death, dying and the introduction to palliative care, with a view towards a series of caregiver-informed recommendations for use in clinical practice. Design: Cross-sectional, prospective, exploratory qualitative design, involving narrative-style interviews and underpinned by an interpretative phenomenological framework. Setting/participants: Purposively sampled, English-speaking, adult caregivers of people with advanced cancer (n = 25) recruited from cancer services at a tertiary metropolitan hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Results: Caregivers reported wanting routinely available written resources about palliative care, supplemented by conversations that are ideally staged overtime. Education about the tasks of palliative care should be separated from referral process, allowing time for gradual adjustment, and re-visiting discussion to enable patients and families to take some control in the process of transition. Once death is imminent, carers wanted health professionals to clarify how much they want to know about the dying process; provide spoken acknowledgement when death is close; include the words 'death' and 'dying'; use direct language, avoiding euphemisms; and communicate about death with patient present. Conclusion: This study is among the first to directly address caregiver perspectives of communication about death, dying and the introduction to palliative care. The recommendations derived from caregiver perspectives build upon existing guidelines and offer health professionals some preliminary considerations around how to undertake these important communication tasks in future.
Background: Despite evidence for early integration of palliative care for people with advanced cancer and their families, patterns of late engagement continue. Prior research has focused on health professionals’ attitudes to palliative care with few studies exploring the views of patients and their carers. Aim: To explore initial perceptions of palliative care when this is first raised with patients with advanced cancer and their families in Australian settings. Design: Cross-sectional, prospective, exploratory qualitative design, involving narrative-style interviews and underpinned by an interpretative phenomenological framework. Setting/participants: Purposively sampled, English-speaking, adult patients with advanced cancer (n = 30) and their nominated family caregivers (n = 25) recruited from cancer services at a tertiary metropolitan hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Results: Three major themes evolved which represent the common initial perceptions of palliative care held by patients with advanced cancer and their carers when this concept is first raised: (1) diminished care, (2) diminished possibility and (3) diminished choice. Palliative care was negatively associated with a system of diminished care which is seen as a ‘lesser’ treatment alternative, diminished possibilities for hope and achievement of ambitions previously centred upon cure and diminished choices for the circumstances of one’s care given all other options have expired. Conclusion: While there is an increasing move towards early integration of palliative care, this study suggests that patient and caregiver understandings have not equally progressed. A targeted public health campaign is warranted to disentangle understandings of palliative care as the ‘institutional death’ and to reframe community rhetoric surrounding palliative care from that of disempowered dying to messages of choice, accomplishment and possibility.
Introduction: Informal caregivers play a pivotal role in supporting patients approaching the end of life. The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) is designed to facilitate person-centred assessment and support through a process that is practitioner-facilitated, but carer-led. This study explored practitioners’ experiences of implementing the CSNAT in palliative homecare. Methods: We conducted qualitative interviews/focus groups with 20 practitioners in one UK hospice homecare service (18 nurses, two healthcare assistants) before and after the implementation of the CSNAT. Thematic analysis of the data was underpinned by framework analysis. Results: Not all practitioners appreciated that using the CSNAT required a shift towards a more person-centred approach to assessment; consequently they tagged the tool onto their existing practitioner-led practice. Practitioners who did use the CSNAT as intended were able to act as role models and support their colleagues in making this transition. Practitioners’ comments revealed a number of contradictions: 1) Most felt that they ‘already do’ identify carer support needs, but feared using the CSNAT could increase their workload; 2) some worried about introducing the CSNAT ‘too soon’, but recognised that it was ‘too late’ once patients were close to the end of life; 3) whilst practitioners stated ‘they were there for the family as well as the patient’, care provision was overtly centred around patients. Conclusion: This study provides vital insights into barriers and facilitators to implementing the CSNAT as part of a person-centred approach to assessment. The findings identified the training and support required to help practitioners make this transition to this new way of working.
The experience of being a carer of a person with dementia at the end of life is expressed in these 12 accounts. This is a synthesis of the concerns and challenges for carers at the end of life. These accounts are often insightful and provide several views of carers’ and professionals’ experience. Having a close relationship as a carer gives a unique and poignant view. What emerges from this review is a range of perspectives that provide contrasting views of the heterogeneity of carers and professionals. This may be helpful for professionals and policy makers to consider when planning end-of-life care strategies for people with dementia and insights drawn from hearing directly from carers may be powerful learning tools.
Aim To assess the cultural acceptability and appropriateness of an English end-of-life survey questionnaire translated into Bengali for use in east London.
Study design Group discussions with informal carers (n=3 groups) and professionals (n=1 group).
Sample and setting Informal carers within a Bengali-speaking community (n=26) in east London participated in three groups discussions led by three community workers trained in interviewing procedures. These data were followed up with one group discussion with bilingual health and social care professionals (n=6).
Analysis Data subject to content analysis.
Results Participants were supportive of the development of the translated questionnaire. However, attention should be paid to vocabulary, shared meanings, cultural equivalence and the ways people conceptualize health and illness, and death and dying.
Conclusions These findings, together with participants’ views on the administration of the questionnaire, will prompt revisions to the research approach when targeting ethnic and cultural groups in the future.
The purpose of this qualitative interpretive study was to explore the experience of respite during home-based family caregiving for persons with advanced cancer. Fifteen caregivers were interviewed twice after the death of their family member. Three main themes emerged from the data analysis. First, caring for a dying family member at home is an emotionally intense, exhausting, and singular experience, set in a world apart from everyday life patterns. Second, the caregivers; differentiated between cognitive breaks and physical (getting away from) breaks of respite. To achieve a cognitive break and yet remain within the caregiving environment was viewed as important, whereas the physical separation from it was significant only if it contributed in some meaningful way to the caregiving. Third, the meaning of respite is rooted in the desire to bring a measure of quality and normalcy to the life of the dying person. Respite means staying engaged in living life with the dying family member.
Background: The concerns of older carers of an adult with disabilities have been well documented. The sudden incapacity or death of the carer can result in a crisis response rather than a planned transition to a chosen sustainable alternative care arrangement for the person with disability. Building on previous ‘Futures Planning’ projects, the aim of this project was to enrich the lives of people with disabilities and their carers whilst ensuring that their wishes for the future are documented to provide security.
Materials and Methods: This article reports on information sessions and workshops that were held for people with disabilities, their carers and staff, and the training sessions for staff for this project.
Results: The sessions underlined the fact that people with disabilities want to enjoy the same experiences that most other people enjoy. Drawing on the ideas and suggestions from participants, the ‘Futures Planning’ documents were modified to meet the aims of the Quality Living project, making them suitable for planning for quality living for the carer and the person with a disability for the next 10 years.
Conclusions: Findings supported the concept that planning allows people with disabilities and their carers to take steps to achieve their dreams.
This study evaluated the impact of a Cambridge hospital at home service (CHAH) on patients' quality of care, likelihood of remaining at home in their final 2 weeks of life and general practitioner (GP) visits. The design was a randomized controlled trial, comparing CHAH with standard care. The patient's district nurse, GP and informal carer were surveyed within 6 weeks of patient's death, and 225 district nurses, 194 GPs and 144 informal carers of 229 patients responded. There was no clear evidence that CHAH increased likelihood of remaining at home during the final 2 weeks of life. However, the service was associated with fewer GP out of hours visits. All respondent groups rated CHAH favourably compared to standard care but emphasized different aspects. District nurses rated CHAH as better than standard care in terms of adequacy of night care and support for the carer, GPs in terms of anxiety and depression, and informal carers in terms of control of pain and nausea. Thus whilst CHAH was not found to increase the likelihood of remaining at home, it appeared to be associated with better quality home care.
This toolkit provides links to a range of resources to support GP practices and health professionals in ensuring patients nearing the end of life, and those close to them, receive the highest quality of care and support. It includes tools, guidance, current best practice policy, and legislation for healthcare professionals. It also provides links to training resources to help with continuing professional development and audit tools to evaluate practice. A section providing information for patients, informal carers, and those close to someone nearing the end of life is also included. Developed in partnership with Marie Curie and the Clinical Innovation and Research Centre, the toolkit will be updated on a regular basis.
Despite evidence of negative psychological sequelae and unmet needs, there are few evaluated interventions for informal caregivers in cancer and palliative care. The aim of this article is to debate the strengths and limitations of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and other designs that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions. Psycho-educational interventions are used as example for this debate article, as a number of studies of various designs evaluating this type of intervention have been published. Systematic searching in Medline and the bibliography of a relevant systematic review identified five RCTs, one pre-test/post-test study with a control group and six one-group pre-test/post-test studies of psycho-educational interventions for caregivers. The methodological strengths and weaknesses were assessed. RCTs are seen as the gold standard, but can have important limitations in the context of carer intervention research, including biased recruitment and low generalizability, problems with blinding and attrition. Pre-test/post-test studies with a control group may be more feasible and more generalizable. Their crucial limitation is selection bias. Before–after studies are compromised by additional specific biases and therefore are the weakest of all discussed designs. After analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the mentioned study designs, this paper presents strategies to address the limitations of RCTs evaluating psycho-educational interventions for carers in cancer or palliative care.
Currently, around 56% of people die in hospital, 20% at home, 20% in nursing or residential homes and 4% in hospices. Yet surveys suggest that the majority of people would prefer to be supported to die in their own homes. We note the recent economic analysis which Marie Curie has produced of the potential cost benefits arising from a shift towards more patients dying at home and recommend that the Department assesses this carefully. We welcome the fact that the Government is considering legislation to grant extra rights to carers and recommend that it provides for a period of paid leave for them. We recommend that the Department reviews the place of domestic support within the spectrum of social care services and ensures that people’s needs for domestic help are adequately met. We were concerned to note the variation in the criteria for continuing healthcare between Strategic Health Authorities and recommend that national criteria for continuing care should be developed. Many of our witnesses drew our attention to disputes between health services and those providing personal social care for the terminally ill. Unseemly arguments about who should pay for different elements of a care package are especially abhorrent in palliative care, and we call for an integrated structure in the delivery of care. We also seek the inclusion of hospices or specialist care units in the ambit of the Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc.) Act to ensure that higher priority is not attached to other patients in dealing with delayed discharges.
The aims of this qualitative study were to identify patients’ and family members’ experiences of acute stroke and their preferences for end-of-life care. Twenty-eight purposely sampled patients with an acute stroke who had high (n = 13) and low (n = 15) disability were selected from 191 sequential cases admitted to two general hospitals in north-east England. In addition, 25 family members of other stroke patients were recruited. Views about current stroke services and preferences for end-of-life care were elicited in semi-structured interviews. Communication between patients and family members and healthcare professionals was consistently highlighted as central to a positive experience of stroke care. Honesty and clarity of information was required, even where prognoses were bleak or uncertain. Patients and family members appeared to attach as much importance to the style of communication as to the substance of the transfer of information. Where decisions had been made to shift the focus of care from active to more passive support, families, and where possible patients, still wished to be included in ongoing dialogue with professionals. Where patients were thought to be dying, family members were keen to ensure that the death was peaceful and dignified. Families reported few opportunities for engagement in any form of choice over place or style of end-of-life care. No family member reported being offered the possibility of the patient dying at home. Uncertainty about prognosis is inevitable in clinical practice, and this can be difficult for patients and families. Our findings demonstrate the importance of improving communication between patient, family and health professionals for seriously ill patients with stroke in UK hospitals.
Purpose: Little is known about young caregivers of people with advanced life-limiting illness. Better understanding of the needs and characteristics of these young caregivers can inform development of palliative care and other support services.
Methods: A population-based analysis of caregivers was performed from piloted questions included in the 2001–2007 face-to-face annual health surveys of 23,706 South Australians on the death of a loved one, caregiving provided, and characteristics of the deceased individual and caregiver. The survey was representative of the population by age, gender, and region of residence.
Findings: Most active care was provided by older, close family members, but large numbers of young people (ages 15–29) also provided assistance to individuals with advanced life-limiting illness. They comprised 14.4% of those undertaking “hands-on” care on a daily or intermittent basis, whom we grouped together as active caregivers. Almost as many young males as females participate in active caregiving (men represent 46%); most provide care while being employed, including 38% who work full-time. Over half of those engaged in hands-on care indicated the experience to be worse or much worse than expected, with young people more frequently reporting dissatisfaction thereof. Young caregivers also exhibited an increased perception of the need for assistance with grief.
Conclusion: Young people can be integral to end-of-life care, and represent a significant cohort of active caregivers with unique needs and experiences. They may have a more negative experience as caregivers, and increased needs for grief counseling services compared to other age cohorts of caregivers.
Background : Palliative care encompasses physical, psychosocial and spiritual care for patients and caregivers. No population data are available on bereaved people who subsequently report that additional spiritual support would have been helpful.
Methods : In a population survey, a respondent-defined question was asked regarding ‘additional spiritual support’ that would have been helpful if someone ‘close to them had died’ an expected death in the previous five years. Data (socio-demographic [respondent]); clinical [deceased]) directly standardized to the whole population were analysed.
Results : There were 14,902 participants in this study (71.6% participation rate), of whom 31% (4665) experienced such a death and 1084 (23.2%) provided active hands-on (day-to-day or intermittent) care. Fifty-one of the 1084 (4.7%) active caregivers identified that additional spiritual support would have been helpful. The predictors in a regression analysis were: other domains where additional support would have been helpful (OR 1.69; 95% CI 1.46–1.94; p < 0.001); and being female (OR 3.23; 95% CI 1.23 to 8.33; p = 0.017). ‘Additional spiritual support being helpful’ was strongly associated with higher rates where additional support in other domains would also have been helpful in: all bereaved people (2.7 vs 0.6; p < 0.0001); and in active caregivers (3.7 vs 0.8; p < 0.0001).
Conclusion : People who identify that additional spiritual support would have been helpful have specific demographic characteristics. There is also a strong association with the likelihood of identifying that a number of other additional supports would have been helpful. Clinically, the need for additional spiritual support should open a conversation about other areas where the need for further support may be identified.
Heart failure has a comparable prognosis to many cancers and accounts for approximately 4% of deaths in the UK. Despite its poor prognosis, few patients have access to specialist palliative care services. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) acknowledges that the palliative care needs of patients with heart failure and their informal carers are not currently being met. Its recently published guidance recommends the development of an effective multidisciplinary service model for such patients.
Background: Hospital is the most common place of cancer death but concerns regarding the quality of end-of-life care remain.
Aim: Preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of the Liverpool Care Pathway on the quality of end-of-life care provided to adult cancer patients during their last week of life in hospital.
Design: Uncontrolled before–after intervention cluster trial.
Settings/participants: The trial was performed within four hospital wards participating in the pilot implementation of the Italian version of the Liverpool Care Pathway programme. All cancer patients who died in the hospital wards 2–4 months before and after the implementation of the Italian version of Liverpool Care Pathway were identified. A total of 2 months after the patient’s death, bereaved family members were interviewed using the Toolkit After-Death Family Interview (seven 0–100 scales assessing the quality of end-of-life care) and the Italian version of the Views of Informal Carers - Evaluation of Services (VOICES) (three items assessing pain, breathlessness and nausea-vomiting).
Results: An interview was obtained for 79 family members, 46 (73.0%) before and 33 (68.8%) after implementation of the Italian version of Liverpool Care Pathway. Following Italian version of Liverpool Care Pathway implementation, there was a significant improvement in the mean scores of four Toolkit scales: respect, kindness and dignity (+16.8; 95% confidence interval = 3.6–30.0; p = 0.015); family emotional support (+20.9; 95% confidence interval = 9.6–32.3; p < 0.001); family self-efficacy (+14.3; 95% confidence interval = 0.3–28.2; p = 0.049) and coordination of care (+14.3; 95% confidence interval = 4.2–24.3; p = 0.007). No significant improvement in symptom’ control was observed.
Conclusions: These results provide the first robust data collected from family members of a preliminary clinically significant improvement, in some aspects, of quality of care after the implementation of the Italian version of Liverpool Care Pathway programme. The poor effect for symptom control suggests areas for further innovation and development.
Presents various abstracts concerning palliative care. Views of terminally ill patients on the needs of their informal carers; Case series on peritoneal mesothelioma; Clonazepam for pain management in advance cancer; Symptoms of chronic heart failure.
Marie Curie campaigns to ensure that more people are able to be cared for and die at home. Previous research has shown that 63% of people would choose to die at home if they were terminally ill, however the reality in the UK is that just 21% of people die at home, while the majority (53%) die in hospital. This report describes the direct experiences of carers looking after someone at the end of life. It is based on interviews with 40 carers who were currently caring for a sick friend or relative or had been bereaved. The research was designed to explore how people experience caring for someone with a terminal illness in the context of their family, work and social lives. Some of the patients used hospice or hospital in-patient care, others remained at home. The separate chapters consider: the impact of caring for someone at the end of life; access to information and support; the place of care and place of death; and bereavement. It concludes with recommendations designed to ensure that more carers of someone at the end of life receive the support they need to keep caring.
The adverse effects of caregiving provided by family members, partners, and friends for people dying at home from a life-limiting illness have been extensively documented in the palliative care research literature, yet minimal attention has been directed towards the strengths of informal carers and their subsequent growth and development. Using in-depth interviews from a purposive sample of informal carers (n = 28), this paper reports empirical evidence from a subset of data analysed for an Australian qualitative study, illuminating a range of strengths frequently obscured beneath the emotional-labour work of caregiving and further sequestrated by the chaos of grief. A strengths perspective on caregiving at end-of-life is important because it helps to inform a reconstruction of caring and dying to include dimensions that relate to the growth of human potential and capacity, as well as enabling collaborative partnerships between workers and informal carers at the end-of-life.
Introduction: Informal caregivers needs in cancer/advanced disease are largely unmet. The science of carer intervention evaluation is methodologically challenging, and the evidence historically weak.
Objective: This systematic review updates an earlier effectiveness review to determine both the effectiveness of subsequently published intervention studies, and the current state of science.
Method: The evidence was identified and appraised using a comprehensive search strategy. Articles were searched from 2001 to 2010 using the following electronic databases: Medline, PsychINFO and CINAHL. Inclusion criteria were studies reporting intervention data for informal adult caregivers of a patient with a diagnosis of cancer or receiving palliative care. The design and evidence rigour were assessed using the Jadad Rating Scale, and the Quality Rating Scale.
Results: 33 studies met inclusion criteria. From the original review, an encouraging increase was identified in the number of evaluations (from 8 to 33), in carer-specific interventions (from 6 to 17) and in the robustness of the study design (an increase from 2 to 12 studies with before/after measures, comparison groups and prospective data).
Conclusions: The evidence suggests a rapid increase in the number of robust intervention studies. However, the range of models remains narrow in relation to caregivers’ needs and preferences.
Background: Patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience substantial symptom burden, psychological and social morbidity. The experience of this illness has an impact beyond the patient.
Objective: This study seeks to understand the experiences and needs of family carers of people with severe COPD.
Design: Semistructured interviews were held with current and bereaved carers of people with severe COPD. Several areas of content were targeted in the interviews, including the experience of caring for someone with COPD, views of treatment and prognosis, information and communication needs, and the understanding of palliative care. Data were analyzed thematically.
Results: The carers' and bereaved carers' experiences and needs around COPD are best understood as a dynamic of change, recognition, and adaptation. Carers faced many changes as the patients' general condition deteriorated. These were changes in the nature of caring tasks, in their relationships, and their own expectations. Carers usually recognized change had happened and sought to adapt through new approaches, new equipment, a new stance of thinking, and in most cases, continued caring. Within this theme of change, recognition, and adaptation were a series of subthemes: (1) the impact of caring, (2) recognizing the role of the carer, and (3) the needs of the carer including their needs from palliative care services.
Conclusion: The impact of caring borne by family carers is substantial and life changing. Health professionals may assist carers in their role through acknowledgement, facilitating recognition of the changes that have occurred (and their implications), and enabling creative adaptive responses for carers. Such assistance is likely to enhance the ability of carers to continue in this demanding role.
Background: A respiratory distress symptom cluster has recently been identified in lung cancer associated with breathlessness, cough and fatigue, and the study reported here is part of a wider body of work being undertaken to develop a novel non-pharmacological intervention (NPI) for the management of this symptom cluster. The current paper reports the views of health care professionals (HCPs) involved with cancer care regarding the most appropriate ways of developing and delivering such a novel intervention.
Methods: Five focus groups, supplemented with additional telephone interviews, were conducted with a range of both community- and acute-based HCPs involved in symptom management for lung cancer patients. Participants included oncologists, palliative care consultants, specialist nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. The focus groups were transcribed verbatim and analysed using NVIVO to support a framework analysis approach.
Results: The current delivery of NPIs was found to be ad hoc and varied between sites both in terms of what was delivered and by which health care professionals. The provision of NPIs within acute medical settings faced common problems concerning staffing time and space, and there was a recognition that the preference of most patients to make as few hospital visits as possible also complicated NPI teaching. Moreover, there may only be a small window of opportunity in which to effectively teach lung cancer patients a novel NPI as the period between diagnosis and the onset of severe symptoms is often short.
Discussion: The participants agreed that the novel symptom management NPI should be individually personalised to the needs of each patient and be available for patients when they become receptive to it. Moreover, they agreed that the intervention would be most effective if delivered to patients individually rather than in groups, outside acute medical settings where possible and closer to patient’s homes, should be delivered by an HCP rather than a trained volunteer or lay person and should involve informal carers wherever practicable.
Meeting family carers who recount their experiences of being on the receiving end of health and social care provides a 'real life' context in which undergraduate students from different professions can explore together and learn about interprofessional care and teamwork. This paper draws on data from a three-month in-depth evaluation of palliative care workshops in which medical, nursing, social work and rehabilitation therapy students interview family carers who are caring for someone with a terminal illness or who have recently been bereaved. The evaluation showed that students responded positively to 'real world' learning and coped well when carers were upset or recounted distressing incidents. Meeting the carer had a profound impact on the students- to the extent that some said they were 'changed' by the experience and felt it would significantly influence their professional behaviour. Hearing the carer's story also allowed them to pinpoint new and significant insights into their own profession and into healthcare provision generally. Family carers' views of their experience of the workshops were also sought and they too reported benefits from meeting the students. They found the experience cathartic and therapeutic and were both surprised and impressed by the maturity of the students who were able to respond to their distress. The paper also discusses the practicalities involved in recruiting the carers, issues of preparation and debriefing and lessons which will be useful to others who may wish to involve family carers in education.
Background: Older adults are at increased risk both of falling and of experiencing accidental domestic fire. In addition to advanced age, these adverse events share the risk factors of balance or mobility problems, cognitive impairment and socioeconomic deprivation. For both events, the consequences include significant injury and death, and considerable socioeconomic costs for the individual and informal carers, as well as for emergency services, health and social care agencies. Secondary prevention services for older people who have fallen or who are identifiable as being at high risk of falling include NHS Falls clinics, where a multidisciplinary team offers an individualised multifactorial targeted intervention including strength and balance exercise programmes, medication changes and home hazard modification. A similar preventative approach is employed by most Fire and Rescue Services who conduct Home Fire Safety Visits to assess and, if necessary, remedy domestic fire risk, fit free smoke alarms with instruction for use and maintenance, and plan an escape route. We propose that the similarity of population at risk, location, specific risk factors and the commonality of preventative approaches employed could offer net gains in terms of feasibility, effectiveness and acceptability if activities within these two preventative approaches were to be combined.
Methods/Design: This prospective proof of concept study, currently being conducted in two London boroughs, (Southwark and Lambeth) aims to reduce the incidence of both fires and falls in community-dwelling older adults. It comprises two concurrent 12-month interventions: the integration of 1) fall risk assessments into the Brigade's Home Fire Safety Visit and 2) fire risk assessments into Falls services by inviting older clinic attendees to book a Visit. Our primary objective is to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of these interventions. Furthermore, we are evaluating their acceptability and value to key stakeholders and services users.
Discussion: If our approach proves feasible and the risk assessment is both effective and acceptable, we envisage advocating a partnership model of working more broadly to fire and rescue services and health services in Britain, such that effective integration of preventative services for older people becomes routine for an ageing population.
The article explores the problems associated with the provision of palliative care to people with non-malignant disease. The major challenges to the provision of such care include difficulties around prognostication and a reluctance to discuss end-of-life issues. Information is also presented on symptoms management and the need to support informal carers.
BACKGROUND: Deciding how to treat patients with end-stage dementia developing potentially fatal events has long been contentious. Under expected new legislation the role of carers is likely to increase. Old age psychiatrists frequently have to decide between active or palliative approaches to such patients. Little is known concerning the comparative attitudes of carers and old age psychiatrists. This research examined how their attitudes differed.
METHODS: A Likert scale attitudinal questionnaire was designed following a literature review and was initially distributed to a pilot group of medical students to aid in establishing reliability and validity. Subsequently it was sent to all members of the local Alzheimer's Society Branch and all the old age psychiatrists in the health region. Its validity and reliability were investigated using factor analysis and test-retest reliability. Between group comparisons were then made using the students t-test and analysis of variance.
RESULTS: 148 carers and 34 clinicians responded. Factor analysis and test-retest analysis of students' responses validated six questions, which grouped into two factors, relating to active treatment and patient-centred ethics. Between group comparisons revealed significant differences between carers' and clinicians' attitudes in these areas. Clinicians favoured active treatment of potentially fatal events in end-stage dementia less than carers who more significantly valued patient-centred issues such as dying with dignity, the patient's best interests and the patient's wishes.
CONCLUSIONS: Old age psychiatrists and carers significantly differed in their attitudes towards treatment of potentially fatal events in end-stage dementia and this may impact on decision-making. Considerably more clinician/carer debate and dialogue seems needed.
OBJECTIVE: Informal caregivers of people with advanced cancer experience many negative impacts as a result of their role. There is a lack of suitable measures specifically designed to assess their experience. This study aimed to develop a new measure to assess self-efficacy in caregivers of people with advanced cancer.
METHODS: The development and testing of the new measure consisted of four separate, sequential phases: generation of issues, development of issues into items, pilot testing and field testing. In the generation of issues, 17 caregivers were interviewed to generate data. These data were analysed to generate codes, which were then systematically developed into items to construct the instrument. The instrument was pilot tested with 14 health professionals and five caregivers. It was then administered to a large sample for field testing to establish the psychometric properties, with established measures including the Brief Cope and the Family Appraisals for Caregiving Questionnaire for Palliative Care.
RESULTS: Ninety-four caregivers completed the questionnaire booklet to establish the factor structure, reliability and validity. The factor analysis resulted in a 21-item, four-factor instrument, with the subscales being termed Resilience, Self-Maintenance, Emotional Connectivity and Instrumental Caregiving. The test-retest reliability and internal consistency were both excellent, ranging from 0.73 to 0.85 and 0.81 to 0.94, respectively. Six convergent and divergent hypotheses were made, and five were supported.
CONCLUSIONS: This study has developed a new instrument to assess self-efficacy in caregivers of people with advanced cancer. The result is a four-factor, 21-item instrument with demonstrated reliability and validity. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This qualitative study explored the views of spouse carers in relation to the emotional impact of caring for a partner with a chronic or terminal illness. The study population consisted of nine full-time spouse carers, recruited using a snowball sampling strategy.
Semi-structured interviews took place in the carers’ homes. These were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were then analysed using constant comparative analysis. Themes identified included the emotional and physical health of the carer, personality changes in the spouse, relationship issues, denial, anticipating death, accessing support and coping strategies. Findings indicate that these carers experienced a whole range of feelings and emotions, which impacted on their health and well-being. They included fatigue, stress, distress, anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation and suicidal thoughts. These were particularly profound around the time of diagnosis, end of treatment, during a relapse and most particularly around the time of death. An increasing number of terminally ill people are now expressing a preference to be cared for at home. The potential risks to the health of caregivers therefore need to be taken into account. This study highlights the importance of assessing the needs of carers in order to identify those at risk of compromised health, which would then allow those requiring support to be offered prompt referral to specialist services.
Maintaining sick and elderly people at home, particularly as they approach the end of life, is a long-established challenge for health and social care services. Over the past 30 years palliative care providers have attempted a variety of innovations in this area. We report on a descriptive study of seven pilot Macmillan Carers Schemes in England. The schemes sought to provide practical and emotional help to cancer patients and families living in their own homes. Data are available on 624 referrals to the schemes over a 1-year period. Emphasizing comparisons between schemes, we report on reasons for and sources of referral, services offered, number and duration of visits and tasks undertaken. We consider the views of informal carers who made use of the service, the perceptions of Macmillan carers themselves, and we compare financial costs of schemes. It is concluded that the schemes have the potential for further development but face problems, which reflect on their borderline position between ‘health’ and ‘social care’. Current policy changes may be beneficial to the schemes in this respect.
Background: New out-of-hours healthcare services in the UK are intended to offer simple, convenient access and effective triage. They may be unsatisfactory for patients with complex needs, where continuity of care is important.
Aim: To explore the experiences and perceptions of out-of-hours care of patients with advanced cancer, and with their informal and professional carers.
Design of study: Qualitative, community-based study using in-depth interviews, focus groups and telephone interviews.
Setting: Urban, semi-urban and rural communities in three areas of Scotland.
Method: Interviews with 36 patients with advanced cancer who had recently used out-of-hours services, and/or their carers, with eight focus groups with patients and carers and 50 telephone interviews with the patient's GP and other key professionals.
Results: Patients and carers had difficulty deciding whether to call out-of-hours services, due to anxiety about the legitimacy of need, reluctance to bother the doctor, and perceptions of triage as blocking access to care and out-of-hours care as impersonal. Positive experiences related to effective planning, particularly transfer of information, and empathic responses from staff. Professionals expressed concern about delivering good palliative care within the constraints of a generic acute service, and problems accessing other health and social care services.
Conclusions: Service configuration and access to care is based predominantly on acute illness situations and biomedical criteria. These do not take account of the complex needs associated with palliative and end-of-life care. Specific arrangements are needed to ensure that appropriately resourced and integrated out-of-hours care is made accessible to such patient groups.
This qualitative study was informed by grounded theory and data were gathered primarily through semi-structured in-depth interviews with thirty-seven theoretically sampled former carers. They were all white British, lived in the East Midlands and were predominately over sixty (68 per cent) and female (70 per cent). With the exception of one, all had cared for a close relative, 65 per cent having cared for a partner/spouse. Most of their dependants were older adults and each case the cessation of caring had coincided with the death of the dependant. The findings showed that post-caring life for the interviewees had an identifiable trajectory with three phases—the ‘post-caring void’, ‘closing down “the caring time”‘and ‘constructing life post-caring’. Each of these phases involved a distinct set of experiences. In addition, the study established that 70 per cent of those in the sample had cared more than once. Thus, two new concepts—'the post-caring trajectory' and the ‘serial carer’—were developed to reflect these findings. Suggestions are made about ways in which policy, practice and further research can be developed in order to ensure there is effective provision for those who have ceased caring.
The article focuses on the Young Carers Program of Hospice Toronto, a non-profit group that provides volunteer-based, in-home hospice and palliative care services. Information on the key objectives of the program is provided. Both children and youth who assumes a caregiving role for a family member are supported by the program. A variety of weekly activities, workshops and special events are facilitated by the program throughout Toronto, Ontario.
The focus of this four-stage, longitudinal, qualitative, and quantitative study was to explore, from the caregivers perspective, the impact of caring for a person with a diagnosis of terminal cancer, in order to improve the planning and coordination of home-based hospice services in Australia. Caregivers identified five primary-care needs relating to lack of information and ineffective communication with health professionals, inadequate emotional support, the need for assistance with physical care and household tasks, support for caregiver health and social wellbeing, and financial issues. The extent to which current service provision met each of these needs varied. The findings of this study suggest that if palliative care is to be shifted to the home environment, improvement in services concerned with providing support for family caregivers is essential if existing guidelines for palliative care provision are to be met.
Research has shown that several variables influence the burden of primary caregivers of cancer patients staying at home in the palliative phase, but the associations between these variables have hardly been explored. The aim of this study was to examine the associations of theory-driven variables with the caregivers’ burden by means of path analysis. The sample consisted of 96 caregivers of cancer patients in the palliative phase staying at home recruited from a hospital trust in Norway. The dimensions of burden from the Caregiver Reaction Assessment, namely self esteem, lack of family support, impact on finances, and impact on daily schedule, were used as the dependent variable. The following independent variables were tested in the models: the patients’ levels of pain, fatigue, and nausea; and the caregivers’ physical quality of life, anxiety and depression, and social support.
The Partial Least Squares approach to structural equation modelling was used for the path analysis. Model 1 shows the direct associations between the independent variables and the dependent variable, explaining 16% of the variance in caregiver burden. Model 1 supports the finding that only caregivers’ depression has a direct significant association with caregiver burden, and shows further that the effects of the other independent variables on burden are mediated through depression. In Model 2, anxiety and depression are mediating factors between three other independent variables and caregiver burden, and 12% of the variance is explained. Model 2 supports none of the independent variables as antecedents of burden. Testing of the models suggested that caregivers’ depression was the main factor associated with caregiver burden, but also an important mediator of indirect associations of indirect associations of caregivers’ anxiety and physical health.
Objective: To describe the experiences of illness and needs and use of services in two groups of patients with incurable cancer, one in a developed country and the other in a developing country.
Design: Scotland: longitudinal study with qualitative interviews. Kenya: cross sectional study with qualitative interviews.
Settings: Lothian region, Scotland, and Meru District, Kenya.
Participants: Scotland: 20 patients with inoperable lung cancer and their carers. Kenya: 24 patients with common advanced cancers and their main informal carers.
Main outcome measures: Descriptions of experiences, needs, and available services.
Results: 67 interviews were conducted in Scotland and 46 in Kenya. The emotional pain of facing death was the prime concern of Scottish patients and their carers, while physical pain and financial worries dominated the lives of Kenyan patients and their carers. In Scotland, free health and social services (including financial assistance) were available, but sometimes underused. In Kenya, analgesia, essential equipment, suitable food, and assistance in care were often inaccessible and unaffordable, resulting in considerable unmet physical needs. Kenyan patients thought that their psychological, social, and spiritual needs were met by their families, local community, and religious groups. Some Scottish patients thought that such non-physical needs went unmet.
Conclusions: In patients living in developed and developing countries there are differences not only in resources available for patients dying from cancer but also in their lived experience of illness. The expression of needs and how they are met in different cultural contexts can inform local assessment of needs and provide insights for initiatives in holistic cancer care.
Background and objectives: Evidence from European and American studies indicates limited referrals of people with learning (intellectual) disabilities to palliative care services. Although professionals’ perceptions of their training needs in this area have been studied, the perceptions of people with learning disabilities and family carers are not known. This study aimed to elicit the views of people with learning disabilities, and their family carers concerning palliative care, to inform healthcare professional education and training.
Methods: A qualitative, exploratory design was used. A total of 17 people with learning disabilities were recruited to two focus groups which took place within an advocacy network. Additionally, three family carers of someone with a learning disability, requiring palliative care, and two family carers who had been bereaved recently were also interviewed.
Results: Combined data identified the perceived learning needs for healthcare professionals. Three subthemes emerged: ‘information and preparation’, ‘provision of care’ and ‘family-centred care’.
Conclusions: This study shows that people with learning disabilities can have conversations about death and dying, and their preferred end-of-life care, but require information that they can understand. They also need to have people around familiar to them and with them. Healthcare professionals require skills and knowledge to effectively provide palliative care for people with learning disabilities and should also work in partnership with their family carers who have expertise from their long-term caring role. These findings have implications for educators and clinicians.
Objective: This study examined the features of informal end-of-life care of older people living in the community and the association between informal care characteristics and dying at home. Methods: Retrospective data were obtained from interviews and self-administered questionnaires of 56 persons who had been primary caregivers of older relatives in the last three months of their lives. Results: Results showed that informal caregivers of terminally ill older people living in the community provided a considerable amount of personal, household, and management care. Secondary informal caregivers and formal caregivers assisted resident primary caregivers less often than nonresident primary caregivers. Primary caregivers who felt less burdened, who gave personal care more intensively, and/or who were assisted by secondary caregivers, were more likely to provide informal end-of-life care at home until the time of death. Conclusions: Our study showed that informal care at the end of life of older people living in the community is complex, since the care required is considerable and highly varied, and involves assistance from secondary informal caregivers, formal home caregivers as well as institutional care. Burden of informal care is one of the most important factors associated with home death. More attention is needed to help ease the burden on informal caregivers, specifically with regard to resident caregivers and spouses. Since these resident caregivers were disadvantaged in several respects (i.e., health, income, assistance from other carers) compared to nonresident caregivers, interventions by formal caregivers should also be directed towards these persons, enabling them to bear the burden of end-of-life care.
Aims and objectives: To explore bereaved family carers' perceptions and experiences of a hospice at home service.
Background: The increasing demand for the development of home-based end-of-life services is not confined to the western world; such services are also emerging in resource-poor countries where palliative care services are developing with limited inpatient facilities. Despite this growing trend, studies show a variety of interrelated factors, with an emphasis on the availability of informal carers and their ability to cope, which can influence whether terminally ill patients actually remain at home. A hospice at home service was developed to meet patients' and families' needs by providing individually tailored resources.
Design: A qualitative study.
Methods: Data were collected by semi-structured, digitally recorded interviews from 20 family carers who had experienced the service. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and a thematic approach adopted for analysis.
Results: All participants reported a personal positive impact of the service. Family carers commented the service provided a valued presence, they felt in good hands and importantly it helped in supporting normal life.
Conclusions: The impact of an individualised, targeted, hospice at home service using dedicated, palliative care trained, staff, is perceived positively by family carers and importantly, supportive of those with additional caring or employment commitments.
Relevance to clinical practice: The emergence of hospice at home services has resulted in more options for patients and their families, when the increased amount of care a family member has to provide in these circumstances needs to be adequately supported, with the provision of a flexible service tailored to individual needs and delivered by appropriately trained staff.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study conducted to explore the determinants of satisfaction with health and social care services in the last 3 months and 3 days of life as reported by bereaved relatives of those who died from a stroke in an institutional setting.
Background. There is limited research about how best to meet the needs of those who die from stroke. A thorough understanding of the determinants of satisfaction with end of life care is crucial for effective service provision to increase awareness of the needs of dying patients.
Methods. During a six-month period in 2003, a population-based survey of bereaved relatives of patients after stroke was conducted using a stroke-specific version of the Views of Informal Carers Evaluation of Services postal questionnaire (183 informants, response rate 37%). The sub-sample included those informants who reported that the deceased person had died in an institutional setting (91%, n = 165). The analysis was divided into two phases: univariate (Pearson chi-square test) and multivariate phase (logistic regression).
Results. Logistic regressions showed that discussing any worries about the treatment of the deceased person and feeling that the doctors and nurses knew enough about their condition were predictors of satisfaction with doctors and nurses in the last 3 months of life. Meeting the personal care needs of the deceased person, being involved in decisions and feeling that the deceased person died in the right place were predictors of satisfaction with care in the last 3 days of life.
Conclusion. End of life care needs to address the individual needs of patients who die from stroke and those close to them. This study shows that individualised end of life care increase