Support of families of intensive care patients towards the end of life

December 20, 2016   //   No Comments

holding-hands-old-person-hospitalThe National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) recently published a report on how nurses support families of intensive care patients towards the end of life. Researchers gathered evidence on how nurses care for patients and their families in intensive care when life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn. The included studies explored the care of the family before, during and after the process. Most of the studies in this small, mixed methods review were qualitative.

Reviewers identified three main ways, or themes, in which families are supported. First, information and good communication, such as the focus on careful use of language, was seen commonly. Second, by careful management of treatment withdrawal itself, for example by clarifying the gradual change expected when medically focussed life-sustaining treatments are withdrawn and family centred end-of-life care begins. Lastly they described a common focus on making the nursing contribution more visible, such as using techniques to build lasting memories for families.

Describing care in this specific setting is a crucial first step to improving palliative care. It may guide training for other healthcare professionals in the quality and consistency of care given on intensive care wards. The findings support current NICE recommendations for health professionals to deliver care that meets the needs and preferences of the dying person and their family, wherever they are.

Source: NIHR