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Staying just one step ahead: providing care for patients with motor neurone disease
  1. R McConigley1,
  2. L J Kristjanson1,2,3,
  3. S M Aoun1,
  4. L Oldham4,
  5. DC Currow5,
  6. M O'Connor6 and
  7. K Holloway1
  1. 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2Department of Chancellory, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Western Australian Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
  4. 4Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  5. 5Discipline of Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  6. 6Palliative Care Research Team, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ruth McConigley, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845, Australia; R.McConigley{at}


Introduction There is limited information about the experiences and educational needs of health professionals who may be required to provide care for people with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) especially in the later stages of the disease. The aim of this study was to determine the experiences of, and need for, education of these health professionals.

Methods Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 31 health professionals with some experience in providing palliative care for people with MND. Thematic content analysis was used to identify common themes.

Results A key theme, Just One Step Ahead, emerged, that describes the central capability health professionals identified as necessary to help individuals plan and prepare for disease and lifestyle changes just before they arise. Two subthemes also emerged: Expertise in MND and Bespoke Communication. Expertise in MND described the required understanding of the disease and the particular individual's version of the disease to allow the health professional to plan, advise, support and anticipate the needs of the person living with MND. Bespoke Communication was the facility to tailor care messages sensitively and effectively to the range of people involved in care (patients, family, healthcare team members).

Conclusions Care of people with MND requires up-to-date expertise about the disease and skilled communication abilities to manage complexity and change. Timely and focused education and specialist MND support for care providers are essential to tailored and responsive care and a widely available education programme has been developed to address these needs.

  • Education and training
  • Neurological conditions
  • Communication

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