Background Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice offers a number of group out-patient courses for patients. The Living with Illness group focuses on adjusting to living with an illness, self-management of common symptoms and understanding how illness can affect one’s mood.
Aim To measure the impact of attending the Living with Illness group by assessing patients physical and psychological symptoms at the beginning and end of an 8-week course.
Method The assessment involved 16 patients attending the Living with Illness group.
Tools used were IPOS (Integrated Palliative Care Outcome Scale) tool at the beginning and then repeated 8 weeks later at completion.
AKPS (Australia modified Karnofsky performance scale); to measure overall performance status and ability to perform activities of daily living.
Phase of Illness (POI); to assess whether current care plan was meeting needs.
Results Patients functionally deteriorated (AKPS scores) over the course of the group. Fewer patients were categorised as stable (POI) at the end. Total IPOS scores (high scores indicating more distress) were calculated for 11 patients with two fully completed IPOS’. At the end of the programme the scores/distress were reduced for six patients, stable for two and a minimal increase of one point for one individual. Four patients didn’t complete the programme two were due to worsening health.
Conclusions Despite functional deterioration, IPOS scores improved for most patients attending the group. Some of the greatest improvements were psychological scores; patients feeling more at peace, less depressed or anxious. Of the 11 patients with complete datasets six had a reduction in total IPOS scores equating to reduced over all distress; three had no change or minimal increase of one point. Only two patients had a larger increase in scores. This is despite ongoing deterioration in their health due to their underlying illness.
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