BACKGROUND: There is a growing population of older patients with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) managed without dialysis in Thailand, and services have yet to be developed to specifically respond to the needs of this group. As a consequence this population are likely to have unmet needs with respect to health care and suffer from symptoms that could be better managed.
OBJECTIVE: This qualitative study explored experiences and health care needs during the last year of life among older people with ESRD, managed without dialysis, from the perspective of bereaved carers.
METHODS: A retrospective post-bereavement approach was adopted to collect qualitative interview data. Purposive sampling was used to select 12 bereaved relatives of older patients with ESRD, managed without dialysis, who had died in the previous 5-10 months. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. Data were digitally recorded, transcribed and analysed through framework analysis.
RESULTS: Four main themes were identified: symptom experiences, impacts of being managed without dialysis, symptom management, and health care needs and utilisation of services.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings confirmed patients' needs were not being met and identified the need to develop approaches to symptom management at home, health education, and psychological and spiritual support at the end of life.