Objectives In 2015 the All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care identified access to specialist palliative care (SPC) advice out of hours (OOH) as their number one research priority. Receiving appropriate advice in response to palliative care needs OOH can address a patient/family’s concerns and prevent unnecessary hospital attendances.
The aim of this study was to describe the current model of SPC OOH advice in the units that run this service, and gain a greater understanding of the nature of calls received by these services.
Methods A national online survey was sent to staff providing OOH advice to patients with SPC needs and a second survey was sent to the managers of the organisations within Ireland. Surveys were emailed with a link to managers of both inpatient and community services who provide SPC.
Results 78 clinical staff who provide OOH telephone advice responded to the survey and there were 23 responses to the managers’ survey. The most common type of call received was in relation to symptom management (97%); however, 73% of staff indicated that they had no specific training in giving OOH advice over the phone and furthermore 44% of respondents felt ill equipped and uncomfortable giving OOH advice for a number of reasons.
Conclusions This survey has highlighted the need for support and training to the staff providing OOH SPC advice and that a set of standards to guide practice would be useful to this cohort of staff.
- Clinical assessment
- Clinical decisions
- Education and training
- Home care
- Hospice care
- Symptoms and symptom management
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request.
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Contributors SC is guarantor. SC was principal investigator involved in the planning, conducting, data interpretation, reporting and writing up of the study. FT was involved in the planning, conducting, data interpretation, reporting and write up of the study. JC was involved in the planning, data interpretation of the study and reviewing of the article. MOR and AC was involved in the planning of the study and reviewing of the article. JH was involved in the planning of the study. ML was involved in the planning, data interpretation of the study and the write up and review of the article.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.