The last month of life: continuity, care site and place of death

Sahlberg-Blom, E.; Ternestedt B.-M.; Johansson J.-E.
July 1998
Palliative Medicine;1998, Vol. 12 Issue 4, p287
Academic Journal
A hospice ward was opened in 1991 at the Örebro Medical Centre Hospital (ÖMCH) in Sweden. Shortly afterwards, a research project was started, which aimed to describe different aspects of the final period of life of a group of cancer patients. This exploratory study is part of this project and aims to assess continuity in the site of care for a group of severely ill cancer patients during the final stages of their lives, and their place of death within different cultures of care. This prospective study involved 56 adults with cancer who had been admitted to six specialized departments at ÖMCH. Demographic and diagnostic data, documentation of when the patients changed from one care form to another, as well as place of death were obtained. The analysis of continuity in terms of care site involved care-oriented cultures (hospice ward, hospital-based home care, primary care-based home care and nursing home) and cure-oriented cultures (acute hospital wards). Considered as a group, the patients spent one-third of their time at home during their final month of life, with or without formal caregivers. For individual patients, however, there were great variations with regard to continuity of care site and care form. A pattern was found for the type of cancer the patients had and where they were during their final month. Ten patients died in their own homes, and of the 46 who died in an institution, approximately the same number died in a care-oriented culture as in a cure-oriented culture.


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