SAGE Publications, Palliative Medicine, 2(25), p. 125-138
Nursing homes are a common site of death, but older residents receive variable quality of end-of-life care. We used a mixed methods design to identify external influences on the quality of end-of-life care in nursing homes. Two qualitative case studies were conducted and a postal survey of 180 nursing homes surrounding the case study sites. In the case studies, qualitative interviews were held with seven members of nursing home staff and 10 external staff. Problems in accessing support for end-of-life care reported in the survey included variable support by general practitioners (GPs), reluctance among GPs to prescribe appropriate medication, lack of support from other agencies, lack of out of hours support, cost of syringe drivers and lack of access to training. Most care homes were implementing a care pathway. Those that were not rated their end-of-life care as in need of improvement or as average. The case studies suggest that critical factors in improving end-of-life care in nursing homes include developing clinical leadership, developing relationships with GPs, the support of ‘key’ external advocates and leverage of additional resources by adoption of care pathway tools.