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Palliat Med. 2011 Mar;25(2):125-38. doi: 10.1177/0269216310387964. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Do nursing homes for older people have the support they need to provide end-of-life care? A mixed methods enquiry in England.

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The Sue Ryder Care Centre for the Study of Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham, UK.


Nursing homes are a common site of death, but older residents receive variable quality of end-of-life care. We used a mixed methods design to identify external influences on the quality of end-of-life care in nursing homes. Two qualitative case studies were conducted and a postal survey of 180 nursing homes surrounding the case study sites. In the case studies, qualitative interviews were held with seven members of nursing home staff and 10 external staff. Problems in accessing support for end-of-life care reported in the survey included variable support by general practitioners (GPs), reluctance among GPs to prescribe appropriate medication, lack of support from other agencies, lack of out of hours support, cost of syringe drivers and lack of access to training. Most care homes were implementing a care pathway. Those that were not rated their end-of-life care as in need of improvement or as average. The case studies suggest that critical factors in improving end-of-life care in nursing homes include developing clinical leadership, developing relationships with GPs, the support of 'key' external advocates and leverage of additional resources by adoption of care pathway tools.

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