Voices that matter: end-of-life care in two acute hospitals from the perspective of bereaved relatives.
Quality of care
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PublisherBMC Palliative Care
JournalBMC Palliative Care
AbstractEnd-of-life care (EoLC) is an experience that touches the lives of everyone. Dying in an acute hospital is a common occurrence in developed countries across the world. Previous studies have shown that there is wide variation in EoLC and at times is experienced as being of poor quality. Assessing and measuring the quality of care provided is a key component of all healthcare systems. This paper reports on the qualitative analysis of open-ended free text questions that were asked as part of a post-bereavement survey conducted in two adult acute hospitals in Ireland. This was a quantitative descriptive post-bereavement postal survey, gathering data retrospectively from relatives or friends of patients who died, utilising an adapted version of the VOICES (Views of Informal Carers - Evaluation of Services) questionnaire. VOICES MaJam has 29 core questions, seven questions requesting personal demographic information and four open-ended questions gathering descriptive data about the care experience during the patient's last admission to hospital. A total of 356 valid questionnaires were returned. Qualitative data were managed, coded and analysed with NVivo 10, using a template analysis framework approach. Three quarters (75%: n = 268) responded to at least one of the open-ended questions. Several key themes emerged, indicating areas that require particular attention in EoLC. Two themes relate to how care needs are met and how the hospital environment has a critical influence on EoLC experiences. The remaining three themes relate more to the interpersonal context including whether patients are treated with dignity and respect, the psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their family members and communication. Acute hospitals need to ensure that patients and their relatives receive high quality EoLC. Seeking the views of bereaved relatives should be considered by all hospitals and healthcare settings to ascertain the quality of care at end of life. This study contributes to our understanding and knowledge of what good EoLC looks like and where care can be improved, thus enabling hospitals to direct and inform quality improvement.
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