Introduction Many older people in care homes are moving towards the end-of life. Whilst it is important to ensure residents are involved in discussions about their care, for example what they would like to happen when their health deteriorates, high levels of cognitive impairment amongst residents can make these discussions and decisions challenging. In some instances, family members may need to advocate, leading discussions with the resident and care staff. Peer support is known to be valuable to family carers but there is limited understanding of whether formal peer mentoring could be useful in a care home context.
Aims To determine whether peer mentors might support families to prepare for discussions and decision-making as their relative’s health deteriorates.
Methods Semi-structured interviews with up to 20 current and 15 bereaved family carers will be iteratively analysed in line with a constructivist approach to grounded theory.
Results Preliminary findings suggest few family carers had discussions and plans in place regarding future deteriorations prior to moving into a care home. Factors that appear to influence whether discussions had occurred included; whether the transfer into a care home was planned or emergency, previous experiences of end-of-life situations and existing family dynamics. Family carers stated they would like practical and emotional support throughout the support journey. They suggested that engaging with a peer mentor earlier , for example when considering moving into a care home, would enable them to develop trusting relationships.
Conclusions Peer mentoring represents a potential opportunity to support families of care home residents to prepare for change and to be involved in discussions and decisions as the person’s health deteriorates but it is crucial explore caveats to this before implementing new services.
Impact As our understanding develops, we will consider whether and how to operationalise peer mentors in practice
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