Nursing assistants and aides are among the unlicensed healthcare personnel who comprise a significant component of the healthcare workforce. In palliative care, they deliver personal care for patient comfort, psychosocial and spiritual support, and sometimes they provide the rest of the interdisciplinary team with perspectives on the patient's fears, family dynamics, unresolved conflicts, or spiritual distress.
One study of aides who provided in-home hospice care described their experiences and the many unrealized opportunities to include them in the care of seriously ill and dying patients and their families.
Three themes emerged from this study:
- Aides are the "eyes and the ears" of the palliative care team, because they are in a position to closely monitor the patient,
- Aides are "kept out of the loop" by team members with respect to patient information and other issues, and;
- Aides "have no voice" because they are not given opportunities to voice their opinions on patient care.
These themes suggest that palliative care aides are inadequately integrated into the interdisciplinary team; they perceive that they are less valued than other members of the team.
Greater attention to their contributions, and efforts to make them equal partners on the interdisciplinary team, may lead to improved outcomes and caregiver support in delivering quality palliative care.
This information is from a study in a high-income country, but it may be also useful for countries at other socioeconomic levels.
See reference for more information.
Adapted from Medscape News & Perspective. Hospice aides: the eyes and ears of end-of-life care. Available at
https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896040?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=6705FY&impID=1626574&faf=1. Accessed on May 2, 2018. To view the entire article and all other content on the Medscape News and Perspective site, a free, one-time registration is required