Family perceptions of care at the end of life in UK nursing care homes

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Abstract

Background

Over a fifth of the population of developed countries die in care homes. While studies are emerging on the outcomes of care in the last few weeks of life, few report on the experience as perceived by the family members.

Methods

As part of a wider study to improve the delivery of end-of-life care, bereaved relatives of residents who had died in a care home/hospital were sent the Family Perception of Care Scale questionnaire to evaluate their experience of care provision for their relative in the last month of life. The Family Perception of Care Scale questionnaire was posted to bereaved relatives, from 37 nursing care homes in south-east England, 3–6 months following the resident’s death. The questionnaires were posted over a 14-month period from 1 October 2009 to 31 November 2010.

Results

A total of 869 questionnaires were posted, with a 42% response rate. A global question within the Family Perception of Care Scale looking at the overall satisfaction with the quality of end-of-life care (Q24) indicated that bereaved relatives were satisfied with the care provided. Qualitative responses from family members highlighted some excellent care, although issues in relation to medical input, professional teamwork, last days of life and spiritual care remain problematic. Results provide an important insight into care provision at the end of life within these care homes.

Conclusion

While some issues can be addressed through education, relationships and value-based issues are likely to be more difficult to address in light of increasing pressure of healthcare support for UK care homes.

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