More than 70% of seriously ill patients with cancer suffer from xerostomia and the associated problems of swallowing, chewing and speaking. This study aims to investigate whether treatment with acupuncture is a viable option for hospice patients with xerostomia. During a 2-year period, 117 patients were assessed for xerostomia. Eighty-two patients were found to have moderate xerostomia. Sixty-seven fulfilled the criteria for inclusion. Of these, 14 were included but only eight completed the study. Ten acupuncture treatments were given during a 5-week period. The effect of acupuncture was measured using a visual analogue scale, and by measuring the saliva production before and after the series of treatment. The results show that all the patients experienced alleviation of dryness of the mouth and the associated symptoms, and thus benefited from the acupuncture treatment. However, conducting a 5-week acupuncture intervention study is not feasible at an inpatient hospice due to the patients being too close to death.
It is increasingly common that cancer patients are cared for at home at the end of life, with help from advanced home care teams. This may have positive implications for cancer patients and their families, but it may also be burdensome to the family caregivers with implications for their health and well-being. This qualitative study was therefore initiated to prospectively explore how family caregivers reason about their expectations of providing end-of-life care at home for relatives with cancer, enrolled in advanced palliative home care units. Ten interviews were conducted with 11 family caregivers at enrollment to the home care unit. A form of constant comparative analysis was used to generate two main themes from the data. One theme concerned the role transition into becoming a family caregiver, whereas the other theme relates to the transition to a new life situation of the caregiver (him/herself). The family caregivers describe themselves as the persons primarily bearing responsibility and providing care for their dying relatives. They were found to have many concerns about their own situation, especially in regard to issues temporally after the death of the patient, but seemed to have few expected sources of support related to these concerns. Professional support is described as expected primarily for care-related tasks, although hopes may be expressed about support in other areas. The distinction between resources described as existing in theory and those used in practice also are apparent in analysis of the interviews. If home care is to be a positive alternative to hospital care, individual expectations should be considered when planning supportive care.
A Swedish widowhood study revealed that four out of ten widows regarded the pre-loss period more stressful than the post-loss. The present investigation of close relatives to patients dying from cancer (using interviews and the Anticipatory Grief Scale) found that preparatory grief involves much emotional stress, as intense preoccupation with the dying, longing for his/her former personality, loneliness, tearfulness, cognitive dysfunction, irritability, anger and social withdrawal, and a need to talk. Psychological status was bad one by every fifth. However, the relatives mostly stated adjustment and ability to mobilize strength to cope with the situation. The results suggest development of support and guiding programs also for the anticipatory period.
A qualitative study was conducted to obtain a deeper understanding of the hospice care of terminally ill cancer patients, where care was delivered via a primary nursing system combined with a team setting. Relatives of terminally ill cancer patients (n = 20) and the personnel (n = 8) participated in open-ended interviews. Phenomena relating to the philosophy of primary nursing and the hospice movement (continuity; closeness; accountability 24 h/day; individualized care; satisfied physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs; and support to relatives) were experienced by the relatives, nurses, and physician as "good care." Most of the phenomena defined as important needs by the relatives and personnel were met when the primary nurse was on duty and the team was intact. Needs that were unmet were mainly a result of lack of continuity. Caring for the terminally ill via primary nursing in a team setting was regarded as two-sided by the nurses. It was seen as stimulating and rewarding, as well as demanding and burdensome. Therefore, the need for support to the nurses involved was deeply stressed.
We conducted a qualitative case study as part of a needs assessment for a day hospice in a small Ontario city. Data were gathered from semi-structured interviews with 28 stakeholders: nine health care administrators, 11 health care providers, and eight lay people (terminally ill adults and informal caregivers). Respondents described support, counselling, social activities, and respite as key day hospice services. They also described several barriers to accessing services, including location, transportation, admission criteria, referrals, and fees. For most respondents, the ideal staff mix includes both volunteers and paid professionals in either a free-standing organization or institutionally linked hospice. Although the vast majority of participants were reluctant to impose admission criteria or other limitations on hospice clientele, they expressed the need to ensure equitable access to this scarce resource. Opinions varied greatly across stakeholder groups, highlighting the need to collect information from all relevant stakeholder groups when planning hospices.
Canuck Place, North America's first free-standing pediatric hospice of its kind, opened in 1995 in British Columbia, Canada. The province-wide program encompasses a broad spectrum of services intended to support community-based care and provide periodic, facility-based respite and palliative care to children with life-threatening, progressive illness and to their families. Loss and grief support is another integral component of the program. The concept of pediatric hospice care is founded on the premise that dying children and their families can benefit from care designed to maximize present quality of life; yet, the creation of such programs must be based on demonstrated need. One vital step in the development of the Canuck Place program was assessing the need for such a program within the province. Data from both traditional quantitative and less traditional qualitative sources were used to document and put forth an argument in support of developing a children's hospice program. The final report addressed several components that are summarized in this article for the purposes of assisting others who may wish to undertake similar projects in their own communities.
Most Canadians die in inpatient settings. Our aim was to determine the availability of medical services, programs, and care for common palliative procedures, in hospices, palliative care units (PCUs), and hospital medical wards (MWs) providing inpatient palliative care in Ontario, Canada.
We identified facilities providing inpatient palliative care using the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and Hospice Association of Ontario (HAO) websites. An electronic survey was sent to the person responsible for palliative care at each facility. We compared services available among the three types of units, using Fisher's exact and Kruskal-Wallis tests.
Of 128 surveys sent, 102 (80%) were completed and returned, from 58 MWs, 31 PCUs, and 13 hospices. MWs were the most common location of palliative care overall, particularly in rural areas. PCUs were most likely to provide care for common procedures (e.g., tracheostomy, nephrostomy; p
The loss of a loved person may lead to complicated grief (CG). General practitioners (GPs) consider bereavement care to be important but find training for this task to be insufficient. We hypothesized that improvement in skills that facilitate early identification of CG and enhance GPs' clinical care may reduce adverse health outcomes. Aim. To test whether implementation of a bereavement management program in general practice could improve the GPs' ability to identify CG and provide clinical care.
A cluster-randomized controlled trial allocating GPs and their listed patients suffering from bereavement to either a intervention or a control group.
Close relatives of patients who had died from cancer in Denmark were recruited (N = 402).
The primary outcomes were defined as the bereaved relatives' score on the Beck's Depression Inventory II and the Inventory of Complicated Grief-Revised (ICG-R), the GP's clinical assessment of the relative's grief reaction and the relative's number of contacts with general practice.
Larger improvements in ICG-R scores were found in the intervention group than in the control group. In the intervention group, patients exhibiting CG symptoms were more likely to receive supportive care and to be referred to mental health practitioners, whereas GP's in the control group more often prescribed psychotropic drugs for patients with symptoms of CG. The GP's ability to identify CG at 13 months did not seem to be better in the intervention group than in the control group.
While only statistically near significant, we found some indications of an effect of the intervention compared with usual care. Our results underscore the need for improving GPs' clinical skills in identifying patients with CG.
This paper explores the manner in which two hospices--one located in Denmark and one in Australia--negotiate and determine the boundaries of volunteer workers vis-à-vis paid staff. A comparative case study approach was used to juxtapose organisations with similar activity fields located in different welfare state systems, i.e. a social democratic welfare state and a liberal welfare state. This study involved non-participant observation of volunteers at work and unstructured interviews with volunteers, staff and management in the hospices (n = 41). Data were collected between August 2012 and February 2013. Data were managed using NVivo and analysed thematically. A key finding is that volunteers in the Danish hospice were excluded from all direct care work due to the effective monopoly of the professional care providers, whereas the Australian volunteers participated in the provision of care to the extent that risk could be eliminated or mitigated to an acceptable level. The findings suggest two different models of the roles of volunteers in tension with professional care providers. Both models recognise that volunteers add to the level of care delivered by the organisations and allow for a discussion that moves away from the normative discussions of 'not taking somebody's job', while also recognising that volunteers must be more than just the 'nice extra' if they are to be of any real value to the organisation and to care receivers.