Conversations About Children When an Important Adult Is at End of Life: An Audit

Jeffrey R. Hanna, Elizabeth Rapa, Mary Miller, Madeleine Turner, Louise J. Dalton

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Health and social care professionals report it challenging to have conversations with families when an important adult in the life of a child is at end of life, often feeling this aspect of care is the responsibility of other colleagues. This study aimed to understand professionals’ perceived role in family-centered conversations as part of routine care at end of life, and how to promote this element of care in clinical practice.

An audit was completed with 116 professionals who work in palliative care including doctors and nurses that attended a 2-day virtual congress.

Professionals (73.2%) felt confident about starting a conversation with adult patients at end of life about important children. However, enquiring about relationships with children was largely dependent on the age of the patient. 64.7% of respondents reported signposting families to websites and services that provide family support. Most professionals (76.7%) wanted training to equip them with the skills and confidence to having family-centered conversations at end of life, with videos demonstrating how to provide these elements of care the most preferred option.

Short training resources should be developed to equip professionals with the necessary skills toward having conversations about children with patients and relatives in clinical appointments. There is a need for professionals to ask every patient about important relationships with children.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Early online date19 Sep 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


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