The communication challenges faced in adopting a palliative care approach in advanced dementia

Authors

  • Amanda Johnson RN DipT(Ng) MHScEd,

    1. Lecturer, School of Nursing, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Esther Chang RN MEdAdmin PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Professor of Nursing and Director of Research, School of Nursing, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
      Esther Chang, School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. Email: e.chang@uws.edu.au
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  • John Daly RN PhD FRCNA,

    1. Professor of Nursing and Head of School, School of Nursing, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Kathleen Harrison BHlthSc,

    1. Acting Network Senior Nurse Manager, Sydney West Area Health Service, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Michael Noel MBBS, FaChPM,

    1. Director and Staff Specialist, Sydney West Area Health Service, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Karen Hancock BSc(Hons) PhD,

    1. Research Associate, School of Nursing, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Sally Easterbrook RN BSocSci

    1. Project Officer, Sydney West Area Health Service, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Esther Chang, School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. Email: e.chang@uws.edu.au

Abstract

This paper discusses one aspect from the findings of an Australian study aimed at understanding the needs of people with advanced dementia. Specifically, this paper focuses on the communication issues that might potentially inhibit the implementation of a palliative care approach for a person with advanced dementia in a residential aged care facility (RACF). Six focus groups consisting of 34 participants and 24 semistructured interviews were conducted. Participants were drawn from palliative care specialty staff, palliative care volunteers, designated aged or dementia specialist staff from an area health service, general practitioners, RACF staff and family carers. The findings show communication issues identified by the participants were a significant factor impacting on their capacity to adopt a palliative care approach in caring for people with advanced dementia. The findings support the need for education, skill development and networking to occur among the key providers of care in RACFs to ensure the provision of ‘best practice’ palliative care to residents with advanced dementia and their families.

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