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Queen’s developing advance care planning resource for nursing homes during COVID-19 outbreak

A research team from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded a £263,701 grant to create an online advance care planning resource for nursing homes during a COVID-19 outbreak.

The research is co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19, and the Health and Social Care Research & Development Division (HSC R&D Division) of the Public Health Agency.

Advance care planning describes the discussion between an individual, family and care provider where their choices or decisions are set on record. The research team, which includes investigators from Lancaster University, Marie Curie Edinburgh and Dementia UK, will develop and evaluate an online advance care planning COVID-centric intervention for training nursing home staff and will provide an informational and supportive resource for their family carers.

Professor Kevin Brazil, Professor of Palliative Care from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast and Principal Investigator on the research, said: “It is likely that nursing homes in the UK will become clusters in their communities for the worst cases of COVID-19. Since all nursing home residents are at substantial risk, nursing home care staff need to know what residents would want to happen should they become infected with COVID-19. A COVID-19 outbreak imposes a significant social and emotional cost for both isolated residents and their family and carers.

“It is vitally important we give a voice to the wishes of residents and family carers during this time and that COVID-centric training is available for nursing home staff.”

In the context of a COVID-19 outbreak, the advance care planning online resource will:

a) enhance knowledge of conducting end-of-life discussions during COVID distancing measures.

b) improve ability for staff to assess resident needs and respond more appropriately in relation to advance care planning.

c) enhance decision making among family members regarding resident care.

d) improve communication between care home staff and family carers regarding their relative's health care needs.

e) enhance staff and family carer knowledge, attitudes and behaviour concerning the care of the resident at the end of life.

f) increase evidence of advance care plans.

Dr Clive Wolsley, Programme Manager, at Health and Social Care Research & Development Division said: “This study has the potential to improve communication and decision making for care home residents and their families, at a very challenging time.

“Research like this will help to ensure that the best evidence is available to staff to guide the advice around planning for end of life for those in nursing homes and confirms Northern Ireland researchers are at the forefront of this national work in advanced care planning research. ”

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