Supporting family carers providing end-of-life home care: a qualitative study on the impact of a hospice at home service

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Abstract

Aims and objectives.

To explore bereaved family carers' perceptions and experiences of a hospice at home service.

Background.

The increasing demand for the development of home-based end-of-life services is not confined to the western world; such services are also emerging in resource-poor countries where palliative care services are developing with limited inpatient facilities. Despite this growing trend, studies show a variety of interrelated factors, with an emphasis on the availability of informal carers and their ability to cope, which can influence whether terminally ill patients actually remain at home. A hospice at home service was developed to meet patients' and families' needs by providing individually tailored resources.

Design.

A qualitative study.

Methods.

Data were collected by semi-structured, digitally recorded interviews from 20 family carers who had experienced the service. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and a thematic approach adopted for analysis.

Results.

All participants reported a personal positive impact of the service. Family carers commented the service provided a valued presence, they felt in good hands and importantly it helped in supporting normal life.

Conclusions.

The impact of an individualised, targeted, hospice at home service using dedicated, palliative care trained, staff, is perceived positively by family carers and importantly, supportive of those with additional caring or employment commitments.

Relevance to clinical practice.

The emergence of hospice at home services has resulted in more options for patients and their families, when the increased amount of care a family member has to provide in these circumstances needs to be adequately supported, with the provision of a flexible service tailored to individual needs and delivered by appropriately trained staff.

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