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Evaluating the perceived added value of a threefold intervention to improve palliative care for persons experiencing homelessness: a mixed‑method study among social service and palliative care professionals.

Klop, H.T., Veer, A.J.E. de, Gootjes, J.R.G., Mheen, D. van de, Laere, I.R. van, Slockers, M.T., Onwuteaka‑Philipsen, B.D. Evaluating the perceived added value of a threefold intervention to improve palliative care for persons experiencing homelessness: a mixed‑method study among social service and palliative care professionals. BMC Palliative Care: 2022, 21(1), Art. nr. 112
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Background
Palliative care for persons experiencing homelessness who reside in social service facilities is often late or lacking. A threefold intervention was implemented to improve palliative care for this population by increasing knowledge and collaboration between social service and palliative care professionals. This consultation service comprised: 1) consultations between social service professionals and palliative care professionals; 2) multidisciplinary meetings involving these professionals; and 3) training of these professionals. This study aims to evaluate the perceived added value of this threefold consultation service in three regions in the Netherlands.

Methods
A mixed-methods evaluation study using structured questionnaires for consultants, requesting consultants, and attendees of multidisciplinary meetings, semi-structured group and individual interviews with social service and palliative care professionals involved, weekly diaries filled out by consultants, and an implementation diary. Qualitative data were analyzed following the principles of thematic analysis. Quantitative data were analyzed descriptively.

Results
Thirty-four consultations, 22 multidisciplinary meetings and 9 training sessions were studied during the implementation period of 21 months. Social service professionals made up the majority of all professionals reached by the intervention. In all regions the intervention was perceived to have added value for collaboration and networks of social service and palliative care professionals (connecting disciplines reciprocally and strengthening collaborations), the competences of especially social service professionals involved (competency in palliative care provision, feeling emotionally supported in complex situations), and the quality and timing of palliative care (more focus on quality of life and dying, advance care planning and looking ahead, and greater awareness of death and palliative care).

Conclusions
The threefold consultation service particularly helps social service professionals connect with palliative care professionals. It helps them to identify palliative care needs in good time and to provide qualitatively better palliative care to persons experiencing homelessness.