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End of Life Study Transforming Hospital Care

October 11, 2021

Research at Hollywood Private Hospital is contributing to perspectives on how end-of-life care is provided in Australia.

The two-year End-of-Life Care Study explored the experiences of bereaved family members, as well as the perceptions of clinical staff on the quality of end-of-life care in an acute private hospital.

Edith Cowan University School of Nursing and Midwifery researcher Dr Rosemary Saunders said the study showed how hospitals need to take the lead in ensuring end-of-life care processes are embedded across all clinical areas.

“This includes providing end-of-life education and support to staff to facilitate safe and quality end-of-life care,” Dr Saunders said.

Dr Saunders said the study findings will contribute to health care providers’ understanding of end-of-life care and the importance of supporting staff adequately to assist with the optimal collaboration between staff, families and patients in care delivery.

The End-of-Life Care Study findings were published in Australian Health Review and the Australasian Journal on Ageing.

The comprehensive research project involved a medical record audit of 100 records to review the end-of-life care provided across the hospital; surveys and interviews with staff and bereaved family members with questions about experiences of end-of-life care, communication, support, information provided and their overall satisfaction with care.

The findings from the End-of-Life Study include:

  • The importance of timely and collaborative communication with patients and families 
  • That patients and family members often need additional emotional, religious and spiritual support
  • That many staff would benefit from additional end of life care training.

Dr Saunders said it is crucial for health care providers to implement strategies to overcome gaps in staff education and support to ensure all patients and families receive quality end-of-life care.

“The importance of having staff who feel equipped, knowledgeable and supported in end-of-life care delivery cannot be underestimated,” she said.

As a result of the study, initiatives being implemented at Hollywood include:

  • A screening tool to recognise end of life.
  • A Goals and Patient Care Form.
  • An updated care plan for the dying person.
  • Brochures for patients and family about the dying process and end-of-life care.
  • Staff education via eLearning modules.
  • An internal audit to evaluate practice change.

Director of Clinical Services Karen Gullick said the study highlighted how engaged, well trained, and supported staff alongside sensitive, timely and effective communication with both patients and families are key to providing quality end-of-life care in hospitals.

“This study has reminded us of the importance of supporting people at end of life in a comprehensive way – including their spiritual and religious needs – we need to make sure we provide time for that in our care,” Ms Gullick said.  

 

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