A Palliative Approach to Dementia Care Leadership and organisation, existential issues and family support

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Sammanfattning: The main purpose of this thesis was to apply the WHO and NHS palliative care approach to dementia care. Thirty-one staff-members in mid-Sweden (studies I and II) and 20 next-of- kin (study IV) were interviewed. In study III, 316 staff-members from dementia care and 121 staff-members from palliative cancer care responded to a questionnaire about family support. The interviews were tape-recorded and analysed with a qualitative phenomenographic (I and II) and a hermeneutic approach (IV). The questionnaires (III) were analysed using qualitative and quantitative content analysis.The staff-members stated almost unanimously that daily leadership was lacking, and consequently clear goal formulations and care planning were rare (I). Proper teamwork between the doctor and the staff who worked on a daily basis with the patients was absent (I). With respect to existential issues, education and staff discussions were lacking (II). The staff were at a loss concerning how to deal with these issues. Nevertheless, these issues are central to family-members who have to deal with an existential crisis (IV). Important questions emerged about obligation and guilt, faithfulness, responsibility, and paying back what you once received. Existential isolation could be identified e.g. in the reversal of roles experienced as "being a parent to your parent" and in the burden of "visiting a living dead person". There were no routines for bereavement visits. The type of support suggested for dementia family members is partly similar to support in palliative cancer care, but it also differs in other respects such as feelings of guilt because the early signs of the disease are misunderstood, the need for respite because of the long trajectory of dementia diseases, and the occurrence of anticipatory grief because in the late phase family members can no longer make any contact at all with the patient (III).A palliative approach can improve the quality of life for the dementia patient and for the family. It can be used as a basis for a clear goal formulation. Some of the suggestions listed in this thesis for improving the quality of care are more a reflection of the need for a change in attitudes rather than the need for substantial budget increases.