Background In an ageing population, complex health needs, reduced health and social care resources result in an increased reliance on families to provide care at end-of-life. Family caregivers are reported to have increasing challenges to their own health and wellbeing especially as the patient requires more support. National policies recommend family caregivers be identified, and needs addressed separately. Yet routine assessment is not regularly undertaken. Issues include a lack of staff awareness of the assessment process and experience in undertaking them.
Aims To review the assessment of family caregivers within a Hospice at Home (HatH) service and assess clinical staff on their knowledge and experience of the process.
Methods (1) Retrospective audit of HatH referrals (January-March 2022) using data from clinical records collected against agreed standards for caregivers’ assessment and 18 staff surveyed for knowledge and experience. (2) Education intervention for staff on caregivers’ needs and assessment, and repeat survey. Audit repeated – September-November 2022.
Results Cycle 1: 88 records examined, 63 included (25 excluded). Documentation included:
30(48%) main family caregiver’s name/relationship.
27(43%) main contact details.
1(2%) caregiver’s assessment.
0 (0%) caregiver’s action plan.
Staff Survey 1: demonstrated some knowledge 12(67%) of family caregivers’ assessment, but 11(61%) had no assessment experience.
Cycle 2: 98 records examined, 72 included (26 excluded). Documentation included:
67(93%) main family caregiver’s name/relationship.
62(86%) main contact details.
61(85%) caregiver’s assessment.
57(79%) caregiver’s action plan.
Staff Survey 2: Post educational intervention, all 18(100%) had improved knowledge and 16(89%) had gained experience.
Conclusion A targeted educational intervention on the impact of caregiving and importance of undertaking an assessment resulted in improved knowledge and subsequent experience of staff in the assessment process. This helped ensure family caregivers are known to the HatH service, have their own needs assessed and, where required, a targeted caregiver’s action plan developed.
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