Loneliness at end of life: A public health approach to promoting the health and wellbeing of terminally ill patients and their carers

Tracey McConnell*, Jeff Hanna, Craig Harrison, Kasia Patynowska, Anne Finucane, Briony Hudson, Angela McCullagh, Sharon Paradine, Carolyn Blair, Joanne Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Loneliness is a public health issue impacting on a person’s health and wellbeing which can lead to increased reliance on health and social care services. Evidence suggests feelings of loneliness are heightened for people impacted by terminal illness. This study aimed to identify solutions to loneliness among terminally ill patients and their carers.
Methods: An explanatory multi-method study comprising of an online survey (n = 68, response rate 30%) and three online focus groups (n = 15) with palliative and end of life care health and social care practitioners. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.
Results: Findings will be discussed under one of the project’s key themes: (1) The loneliness antidote: Befriending and companionship services. Social and emotional connectedness was highlighted as key to alleviating experiences of loneliness for people with a terminal illness and their carers. Peer-support groups and services such as rehabilitation programs and complementary therapies were highlighted as necessary for providing respite and psychosocial support for people with a terminal illness and their carers. Key aspects of these services included meeting others experiencing similar situations and providing companionship for those lacking social networks during the end of life period.
Conclusion: There is a need for policy drivers for commissioning and promotion of befriending, peer support and companionship services across communities. These services need to be co-produced with people impacted by terminal illness to ensure they meet the needs of those experiencing loneliness within this population.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2022
Event7th Public Health Palliative Care International Conference - Bruges, Belgium
Duration: 20 Sept 202223 Sept 2022

Conference

Conference7th Public Health Palliative Care International Conference
Country/TerritoryBelgium
CityBruges
Period20/09/202223/09/2022

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