Psychosocial palliative care and volunteers
- by Kate Bowman
- February 8, 2023
The most recent article in CareSearch’s Palliative Perspectives is about psychosocial palliative care and what interventions patients prefer.
Written by Emeritus Professor Kenneth Pakenham and Christopher Lloyd Martin, the article tells us that ‘findings from their research highlight psychosocial interventions as an essential part of a holistic approach to patient-centred care throughout the palliative care journey.’
For many of us already involved with palliative care volunteers we know how well placed they are to meet the psychosocial needs of patients. And even though this study did not question the carers and family members of patients, we know that they too benefit from the psychosocial support offered by volunteers.
This study asked 81 palliative care patients 3 key survey questions about their needs for psychosocial support:
1) how would they like to receive support?
2) what psychosocial areas they would like support with?
3) and what their main wellbeing priorities were whilst living with a palliative illness, and at the end of their life?
Answers to the first question showed that most palliative patients (85%) wanted to receive psychosocial support via in-person appointments as their first preference. This stands in contrast to the recent accelerated uptake of telehealth and self-help approaches prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responses to the second question showed that improving quality of life was the number one area palliative patients wanted support with. This was followed by preferences for assistance with distressing emotions and adjusting to living with a palliative illness.
Lastly, answers to the third question showed that whilst living with a palliative illness, the key wellbeing needs were spending time with loved ones and continuing to engage in valued activities, whilst being free from pain and stress, and engaged with health services. At the end-of-life, the main well-being need was again being with loved ones and being pain free, as well as being at peace and nurturing a death experience of their choosing.
A triad of intersecting overarching themes emerged from our investigation of palliative patients’ views on their psychosocial support needs: maintaining human connections, nourishing quality of life and psychosocial coping, and optimal pain management.
Findings highlight psychosocial interventions as an essential part of a holistic approach to patient-centred care throughout the palliative care journey. Results can inform the refinement of existing psychosocial services, and the development of new interventions. Furthermore, in-person treatment delivery remains essential in an evolving digital world. Findings may also bring to us all a sharp reminder of a wise adage “live each day as if it were your last”.
If you would like help or advice on setting up a palliative care volunteer service to improve patient-centred care outcomes in your area, contact us here at the Volunteer Support Services Programme.
Read the full article on Palliative Perspectives.
- DECEMBER 7, 2023
- 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteer Services – December meeting & Christmas lunch
The role of the Network is to ensure best practice for NSW Managers of Pall...Read more
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