This research study sought an understanding of the availability, provision and delivery of palliative and end of life care in a stroke ward, whilst exploring thoughts and views about the quality of palliative and end of life care practices. The study aimed to determine whether palliative and end of life care needs for both patient and family members were met; whilst also examining the transition from acute to palliative and end of life care within an acute stroke ward. This study drew together the experiences of bereaved family members of patients cared for within an acute stroke ward. Adult primary relatives of patients who died in hospital following an acute stroke were interviewed using a 16 question semi-structured interview schedule.
Data from 6 participants were analysed using Attride-Striling’s (2011) analytic framework with data presented utilising two global themes: The Family Experience and Dying & Death. Amongst the findings was evidence of variable communication between professionals, patients and family members, especially in relation to conversations around dying and death. Whilst there is a strong evidence base supporting the benefits of end-of-life conversations (Brighton and Bristowe. Postgrad Med J. 2016; 92: 466–470; Ekberg, Parry, Land, et al. BMC Palliat Care. 2021; 20(186): 1–12), mirrored alongside some improvement in local palliative and end of life care provision especially amongst those with a non-malignant diagnosis, more clearly needs to be done.
Recommendations from this study suggest staff require palliative and end of life care training, including identifying when death is approaching, along with communication skills training in order to instigate timely conversations with patients and their family members. In addition, further research in this area is highly recommended.