Despite a recognized need for a palliative approach to caring for people with motor neurone disease (MND), access to palliative care is often limited.Aim:
This project aimed to improve the knowledge of health professionals about a palliative approach to MND care.Design:
A three-phase study was undertaken to develop, implement and evaluate an education program for health professionals that promoted a palliative approach to MND care. This paper discusses the second and third phases: the implementation and evaluation of the project. Education workshops were held for health professionals. Their knowledge of palliative care was measured before and after the workshops and one month later. Attitudes to providing MND care were also measured.Setting:
Workshops were held in South Australia and Western Australia. Participants were health professionals working in the areas of MND care or palliative care. Some aged care and generalist health professionals were included if they had a role in providing care to people with MND.Results:
The participants demonstrated an improvement in MND knowledge (χ2 = 64.13(2), p = 0.000) and palliative care knowledge (χ2 = 17.24(2), p = 0.000); both were sustained at one month. Attitudes to providing MND care also improved (χ2 = 11.85(2), p = 0.003) and were maintained at the six-month follow-up. Participants indicated that the knowledge gained positively influenced their clinical practice.Conclusions:
A targeted education program for health professionals improved understanding about end-of-life care for people with MND. Health care providers also reported having made improvements in the care provided to patients and carers, particularly communication, psychosocial care and symptom management.