Palliative care for frail older people: a cross-sectional survey of patients at two hospitals in England

Gardiner, C., Gott, M., Ingleton, C. and Richards, N. (2013) Palliative care for frail older people: a cross-sectional survey of patients at two hospitals in England. Progress in Palliative Care, 21(5), pp. 272-277. (doi:10.1179/1743291X12Y.0000000043)

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Background The majority of deaths in the UK occur in acute hospitals, and older people have the highest hospital death rates. Improved palliative care for older people has been identified as an international priority, yet little is known about the profile of older patients with palliative care needs in hospitals.

Objective To describe the profile of older hospital inpatients (≥85 years), and to explore the prevalence and nature of palliative care needs among this group.

Methods A cross-sectional survey of palliative care need in older people was undertaken in two UK acute hospitals. Hospital case notes were examined for evidence of palliative care need according to Gold Standards Framework (GSF) prognostic indicator criteria. Patients (or consultees) completed assessments of palliative care need.

Subjects Data were collected for 654 consenting patients/consultees. This paper describes data from 110 patients aged ≥85 years.

Results Forty per cent of the older patients were identified as having palliative care needs according to GSF criteria. Frailty was the most common indicator of palliative care need (16.7%). The most common reason for admission to hospital was general frailty (25.5%).

Conclusions While this study is limited by its small sample size, the results suggest that older people with frailty conditions constitute a substantial proportion of hospital inpatients with palliative care needs. However, it is unclear whether a specialist palliative care framework is the most appropriate model for this group. The care provided to older people at the end of life may best be provided by generalists such as geriatricians, as part of a comprehensive generalist-led palliative care framework.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Richards, Dr Naomi
Authors: Gardiner, C., Gott, M., Ingleton, C., and Richards, N.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Progress in Palliative Care
Publisher:Maney Publishing
ISSN (Online):1743-291X

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