End-of-life care support needed in hospitals

A new Flinders University study has found that the key to providing end-of-life care in hospitals is to be extremely well prepared and engaged.

With many deaths occurring in hospitals in Australia every year, hospitals are one of the main providers of end-of-life care. And with the number of Australians who die each year projected to double by 2040, the need for safe and quality end-of-life care in hospitals is an ongoing concern.

The Flinders University Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death, and Dying has sought to identify the best practices and organisational requirements for delivering excellent end-of-life care in hospitals. The study also identified the measures needed to support patients and families during a pandemic.

Led by Deb Rawlings from Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the study was commissioned by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care in order to inform an update to the National Consensus Statement for safe and quality end-of-life care.

Using a rapid review of literature, the study found that organisational readiness is a main driver for good quality end-of-life care.

“Hospitals and acute care settings need to recognise the importance of end-of-life care,” says Ms Rawlings.

“This is a significant first step in enabling improvements in the quality of care that is delivered to patients and families.”

The study showed that having spaces that allow privacy and facilitate culturally responsive care, as well as supporting and training the workforce to deliver quality end-of-life care, are critical.

Other important factors include person-centred care, family involvement, bereavement support and technological innovation, particularly during a pandemic.

“Our study lays out several implications for policy and end-of-life care practices related to the care of those who die in hospital,” says Ms Rawlings.

“To enable comprehensive responses across the workforce and the care environment, end-of-life care will need to be provided through a whole-of-organisation approach.

“Organisational policy, procedures, and culture all influence clinical behaviour and the capability and willingness of health professionals to provide comprehensive care.”

Read the full report here: Rapid review of the literature: End-of-life care



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