Introduction For the sight-saving procedure of corneal transplant, there is a UK shortage of approximately 500 corneas each year. 26,000 people die in hospices annually; around half could donate their corneas. Corneal retrieval can take place in hospices and funeral directors. In 2011, a questionnaire of staff knowledge and experience of corneal donation (CD) in 12 UK hospices found 90% of respondents rarely or never discussed CD with patients.
Aims To compare staff knowledge and experience of CD at the authors’ hospice with the 2011 study, to aid design of an education programme and, ultimately, increase CD.
Methods A questionnaire, based on the 2011 study, enquired about previous experience and knowledge of CD. It was distributed to staff across all clinical services (ward, community and day-services) in an English independent hospice.
Results 37 multi-disciplinary staff responded. 92% of respondents never or rarely raised the subject of CD with patients or relatives. 76% had not received any information or training regarding CD. 81% felt they did not know enough about CD to discuss it with patients or relatives.
Conclusion The results mirrored that of the previous study, suggesting the 2011 paper’s findings are generalisable to other hospice populations.
Lack of knowledge and training were identified as significant barriers to conversations about CD. The findings of the survey and basic CD training were given to hospice staff. An information leaflet for patients and relatives has been produced, to support staff in their conversations.
Formal training sessions for staff by NHS Blood and Transplant have been arranged. A programme of educational displays during National Transplant Week is planned. The authors will then conduct a service evaluation: a questionnaire survey of patients’ experiences of conversations about CD.
Like many conversations at the hospice, raising the subject of corneal donation is difficult, but improving knowledge and awareness could enable these conversations to become more commonplace, and thus increase the number of corneal donations.
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