Objectives Most people say if they had a terminal illness, they would prefer to be cared for at home and, if possible, to die there. Often this is not possible without a carer to assist with on-going practical care and symptom management. If breakthrough symptoms are not treated in a timely manner, symptoms can escalate quickly causing increased suffering resulting in unwanted hospital transfers. Many carers report feeling motivated but uneducated for the task of medicine management, especially if it involves preparation and/or administration of subcutaneous medicines This study assesses the impact of an education and resource package, caring@home, on carers’ confidence, knowledge, and skills in managing palliative symptoms at home using subcutaneous medicines.
Methods Nurses trained volunteer carers on the use of the package. Carers were invited to complete a 10 min written evaluation survey and to consider consenting to a 30 min semistructure phone interview.
Results Fifty carers returned surveys and 12 were interviewed. Most carers agreed or strongly agreed that the package provided them with the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence to safely and confidently manage breakthrough symptoms using subcutaneous medicines, further, they would recommend the package to others. Interview analysis revealed three main themes: (1) hesitation and motivation to adopt expanded carer role; (2) the importance of a layered approach to support; and (3) avoiding perceived unnecessary contact with nurses.
Conclusion The programme can be used by clinical services to empower carers to help enable a person to be cared for, and to die at home.
- palliative care
- subcutaneous medicine
- symptom management
Data availability statement
No data are available.
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Contributors DP, ER, KC and JT contributed to the planning, design and implementation of the research. DP and SI contributed to the collection and analysis of the results, and all authors to the writing and critical revision of the manuscript. DP will act as guarantor.
Funding This work was supported by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, National Palliative Care Projects.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.