Stirling university academic awarded £600k for care home study

A University of Stirling academic has been awarded £600,000 from the National Institute for Health Research to improve end-of-life care in UK care homes.

The project, led by associate professor at the university’s social sciences faculty Dr. Liz Forbat, will focus on six unnamed specialist palliative care services in Scotland and England.

Forbat said the study will build on her Australian trial which tested a system called Palliative Care Needs Rounds.

Needs Rounds involve introducing regular staff meetings to discuss residents most at risk of dying and, following a review of the person’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing, putting a specific plan of necessary actions in place.

The objective is to help care home residents to stay out of hospital, improves symptom control for better deaths, improves staff capability to look after older people in care homes at end of life, and reduce hospital costs.

“Up to 50 per cent of care home residents in the UK die within six months of admission. They are often frail and have lots of complex health problems, but despite their needs, some residents don’t get access to end of life care from hospice teams, so may experience unnecessary and distressing symptoms at end of life,” said Forbat.

“This is unjust - older people in residential care should receive the same high quality of palliative care which is provided in the community. We want to explore whether Needs Rounds can be used in the UK,” she added.

The project team, which also includes researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, University of Leeds and University of Newcastle, will conduct interviews and run workshops to co-design Needs Rounds with care home clinicians.

The results will be shared with care homes, residents, relatives, and GPs, as well as with specialists across the sector. The team also aims to develop an implementation package to provide the necessary tools and resources required to adopt UK Needs Rounds.