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Necessary but not yet sufficient: a survey of aged residential care staff perceptions of palliative care communication, education and delivery


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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