A process evaluation of systematic risk and needs assessment for caregivers in specialised palliative care

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BACKGROUND:
Caregiving is strenuous and it may be associated with adverse psychological outcomes. During the palliative care trajectory, there are unique opportunities for providing support and preventing poor bereavement outcome. However, the tasks of palliative care staff in relation to caregivers are often unclear in the daily practice. Assessment is recommended to establish risk and needs and standards for caregiver support are available. Still, the feasibility of applying these standards among caregivers in everyday clinical practice has not been tested so far.
METHODS:
This study tested the feasibility of an intervention based on key elements of the "Bereavement support standards for specialist palliative care services" in a Danish specialised palliative home care team. We followed the UK Medical Research Council's guidelines for the process evaluation of complex interventions. The intervention consisted of: 1. Systematic risk and needs assessment for caregivers at care entry; 2. Interdisciplinary conference to prepare a support plan; 3. Targeted support; 4. The establishment of an electronic medical record for caregivers to document targeted support. Outcomes included the reach, fidelity and acceptability of the intervention as well as the assessment of contextual factors.
RESULTS:
The intervention reached 76 of 164 caregivers (46%). The interdisciplinary risk assessment and documentation of a support plan was conducted in 57 (75%) of the enrolled caregivers. Finally, a separate medical record was established according to the intervention blueprint for 62% of caregivers receiving targeted support. After managing initial challenges, palliative care staff reported that the intervention was useful and acceptable.
CONCLUSION:
The intervention proved feasible and useful. Still, we identified barriers to the implementation which should be taken into consideration when planning implementation of a systematic risk and needs assessment and in the establishment of medical records for caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Volume16
Issue1
Number of pages8
ISSN1472-684X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2017

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