Comparing tools that can help to identify people who could benefit from a palliative care approach

PC tools comparator cover

We have recently published a resource that compares different tools that could be used to identify people who could benefit from a palliative care approach. This blog post gives an overview of the document and its features.

The benefits of early identification

Early identification of people who could benefit from a palliative approach to their care has many advantages. It can allow people to make informed choices about what medical treatments and care they would like to receive, or not receive, and to prioritise things that are important to them when length of life may be short, or when the presence of irreversible illness has altered life for that person.

Palliative care identification tools

It can be very difficult to recognise when someone is nearing the end of their life due to a chronic, progressive medical condition, frailty or old age. A number of tools are available to help identify individuals who could benefit from a palliative care approach at an earlier stage.

Comparing different tools – at a glance

We have designed a visual resource comprising a table and a decision tree (see below) to make it easier for Health and Social Care Partnerships to compare the key features of different identification tools, and to select the tools that are most appropriate for their contexts.

PC tools table

Palliative care tools decision tree v0.7

 

This resource is not intended to be a comprehensive literature review, but rather a visual comparison of some of the main identification tools that are currently used in Scotland. There are brief outlines of all of the tools featured in the comparison table and decision tree, together with links to some key research and further information on these tools.

We have focused on tools that were identified in a literature review by Maas et al, and discussions with palliative care clinicians in Scotland. Some have been validated and others have not. We have tried as far as possible to include information on the limitations of different tools.

You can access the palliative care identification tools comparator on the ihub website by clicking on the document image below:

 

PC tools comparator cover

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Introducing Maxine Jones

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I’ve had a long career in generalist primary care practice management, so stepping into a new role as Fife’s palliative care improvement advisor may have seemed at first like a leap into unfamiliar, specialist territory.

But, as one doctor said to me, palliative care is the bread and butter of primary care.

Both services share a deep-rooted holistic philosophy that deals with the emotional, social, practical and spiritual aspects of health and well-being, as well as the medical management of illness.

So, for me, a move to palliative care felt like a home coming.

Improvement work

I’m working with Fife’s health and social care partnership to realise the Scottish Government’s vision, that by 2021 everyone who needs palliative care will have access to it.

Our aim is to innovate and improve the identification and care coordination for people who may benefit from palliative care.

What people want is support to live well, safely and for longer in their usual place of residence.  What people want is to have quick and easy access to responsive services and trusted care providers when they need them. These principals are universal to both primary and palliative care.

Some of our improvement work will focus on developing palliative care in the community, with providers that people know well. This will extend identification beyond those with cancer. Anyone living with long term conditions and growing frailty would benefit from early palliative care.

But identification is only part of the story.

As important is the coordination of responsive, person-centered services. Services that are delivered through closer, enhanced multi-disciplinary team working. Services that are nearer to people. Services that are geared towards improving continuity between people and their care providers.

You’ll hear more about my work in the coming months. I’d be delighted to learn from your community palliative care initiatives, and to hear your suggestions for improving identification and coordination of palliative care.

Please do get in touch.