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Necessary but not yet sufficient: a survey of aged residential care staff perceptions of palliative care communication, education and delivery
  1. Rosemary Frey1,
  2. Michal Boyd1,3,
  3. Sue Foster1,
  4. Jackie Robinson1,2 and
  5. Merryn Gott1
  1. 1Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. 2Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand
  3. 3Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rosemary Frey, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; r.frey{at}


Objectives Previous research has indicated that staff in aged residential care (ARC) may be unprepared for their role in palliative care provision. The need for palliative care knowledge among ARC staff has been characterised as ‘pervasive’. Determining the palliative care education, communication and support needs of ARC clinical care staff is, therefore, of critical importance to the delivery of quality healthcare in this setting.

Methods A survey of clinical staff (n=431) in 52 ARC facilities in 1 urban district health board was conducted, using a paper-based questionnaire. Instruments included the 3-item Experiences with End of Life scale, developed measures of communication and support (13 items), support accessibility (12 items), and palliative care education (19 items).

Results Only 199 (46.2%) of staff participants reported undertaking palliative care education. Nurses were more likely to have engaged in palliative care education in comparison with healthcare assistants (HCAs) (χ2(1, N=387)=18.10, p=0.00). Participants (n=347) who wanted further education preferred an interactive, hands-on applied education (13.9%) in comparison to short topic-specific sessions/seminars (6.5%) or lecture-based courses (7.7%).

Conclusions The study reveals an ongoing need for staff palliative care education. Results suggest the development of an integrated model of care which draws on both hospice and ARC staff expertise.

  • Education and training
  • Nursing Home care
  • Quality of life
  • Communication
  • Terminal care

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  • Contributors All authors (RF, SF, MB, JR and MG) were involved in the conception, design and implementation, data analysis and interpretation and drafting of the paper. All authors were involved in the review and approval of the final article for publication.

  • Funding The study was funded by the University of Auckland Faculty Research Development Fund (project 3702047).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee (ref # 8742).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Access to the original dataset is available to fellow researchers on written request postpublication, and with acknowledgement of source.