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Home care nurses more positive about the palliative care that is provided and their own competence than hospital nurses: a nationwide survey.

Joren, C.Y., Veer, A.J.E. de, Groot, K. de, Francke, A.L. Home care nurses more positive about the palliative care that is provided and their own competence than hospital nurses: a nationwide survey. BMC Palliative Care: 2021, 20, Art. nr. 170
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Background
People often prefer to stay at home until the end of life, but hospital admissions are quite common. In previous research bereaved relatives were found to be less positive about palliative care in hospital. However, it was not known how the content and quality of palliative care differ between home care and hospitals from the perspectives of hospital nurses and home care nurses and how palliative care in these settings could be improved.

Methods
A survey was held among hospital and home care nurses, recruited from a nationwide Nursing Staff Panel and through open calls on social media and in an online newsletter. The pre-structured online survey included questions on the palliative care provided, the quality of this care and the respondent’s perceived competence in providing palliative care. The questionnaire was completed by 229 home care nurses and 106 hospital nurses.

Results
Most nurses provided palliative care in the physical and psychological domains, fewer provided care in the social and spiritual domains. A higher percentage of home care nurses stated that they provided care in these domains than hospital nurses. Overall, 70% of the nurses rated the quality of palliative care as very good to excellent. This percentage was higher among home care nurses (76.4%) than hospital nurses (59.4%). Moreover, a higher percentage of home care nurses (94.4%) stated they felt competent to a great extent to provide palliative care compared to hospital nurses (84.7%). Competencies regarding the physical domain were perceived as better compared to the competencies concerning the other domains. The nurses recommended paying more attention to inter-professional collaboration and communication, timely identification of the palliative phase and advance care planning, and more time available for palliative care patients.

Conclusion
Although the quality of palliative care was rated as very good to excellent by nurses, improvements can still be made, particularly regarding palliative care in hospitals. Although patients often prefer to die at home rather than in hospital, still a considerable number of people do die in hospital; therefore hospital nurses must also be trained and be able to provide high-quality palliative care.
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