Background In order for palliative care to be provided to all in need, an integrated approach to service delivery is needed, where a mixture of specialist and generalist care is provided. A needs assessment in 2010 showed 40% of patients in Mulago hospital have palliative care needs. Thus the Makerere Palliative Care Unit (MPCU) developed a programme to train link–nurses across the hospital supported by a referral pathway and identification process.
Aims To integrate palliative care into all wards of Mulago Hospital through a link-nurse programme.
Methods 27 link nurses from 11 clinical areas, were trained and mentored over the past 2 years. An evaluation of the programme was carried out using quantitative and qualitative data collection methods including; pre and post course confidence ratings; course evaluation forms; review of link-nurse activity sheets and action plans; review of MPCU patient documentation; Most Significant Change (MSC); and focus group discussions (FGDs).
Results Link nurses cared for 1,684 patients during 2012, of these, 336 (20%) were referred to MPCU for specialist input. Referral patterns suggest the complexity of patients referred to MPCU has increased with >75% of MPCU patients having complex needs requiring specialist input. Results of the evaluation suggest the link-nurse programme has helped integrate PC throughout the hospital. There has been a change in attitudes, the nurses have developed new skills and knowledge, there is improved relationships and better outcomes of care. Challenges identified include heavy work-load and the need for training for other staff.
Conclusion The link-nurses felt they were able to provide better PC to those that needed it, and had a stronger relationship with the MPCU both in terms of support, but also for referrals. The integration of PC throughout hospitals is vital, and the link-nurse programme demonstrates a successful model.
- Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.