The number of people requiring palliative care is increasing sharply (Etkind et al., 2017). Forty per cent more people will need palliative care by 2040. Recommendations are that palliative care should be initiated at diagnosis, even concurrently with curative treatment (Guo et al., 2012). In response, Palliative Care Day Services are designed to support people during assessment and treatment through the provision of regular outpatient attendance at specialist centres to deliver out-patient services so that patients can remain at home. Such interventions have been found to be effective (Stevens, Martin & White, 2011), however the evidence is limited. To inform further development, we undertook retrospective chart reviews at three Marie Curie centres: reviewing the records of people attending for the first time in 2015.
We found that services were accessed mainly by older people with a primary diagnosis of cancer; referrals came mostly from: hospitals, other palliative care services or a GP; and people typically attended weekly for 6 or 12 weeks. In 82 cases, we found people had their physical (331), psychological (55), social (46) and spiritual (14) needs addressed. Day Services were provided by nurses, doctors and therapists. Patients had their medication regime reviewed and equipment was ‘prescribed’ as necessary. In a third of cases, support was also offered to a family member. About half of patients were helped to develop an advance care plan and almost 300 referrals were made to other health and social care services.
Day Services can provide specialist palliative care outside the inpatient unit to help address specific, pre-identified health and social care needs. The effectiveness of such services requires further investigation and chart reviews can be useful in contributing to such evaluations.
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