A qualitative comparison of care home staff and palliative care specialists’ experiences of providing end of life care to people living and dying with dementia in care homes in two countries: A focus group study
Background: Palliative care for people with dementia dying in care homes is an important aspect of long-term care. Whilst there is consensus about the principles of palliative care, less is known about how care home staff negotiate and influence decisions around end of life and how organisational context shapes that process. Aim: To explore the views and experiences of care home staff and palliative care specialists on end of life care in care homes and understand how care home settings affected palliative care provision in England and Australia. Design/participants: Eight focus groups in Australia and England with care home staff and palliative care specialists (n = 49). Reflexive thematic analysis was undertaken. Findings: Australian participants reported collaboration between care home staff, visiting professions and family members though case conferences. English participants discussed resident-focussed involvement from specialists that was less formally organised. Negotiating roles and responsibilities in end of life care; the importance of relationships to overcome deficiencies in formal processes; and the legitimacy and authority of advance care planning at times of crisis were recurring themes. The organisation and embedding of end of life care in processes and practices of care homes differed; this closely linked to care home procedures in Australia but was less apparent in England. Conclusion: In both countries, partnership working was recognised and valued as key to effective palliative care. Work that enables care home staff to identify challenges with visiting professionals, such as agreeing priorities for care and negotiating their shared responsibilities, may lead to context-sensitive, sustainable solutions.