General practitioners' and district nurses' views of hospital at home for palliative care

Todd, CJ; Grande, GE; Barclay, SIG; Farquhar, MC
May 2002
Palliative Medicine;May2002, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p251
Academic Journal
Cambridge Hospital at Home (CH@H) provides 24-h nursing in a patient's own home to patients requiring terminal and palliative respite care. To investigate views of the service, we surveyed all GPs and district nurses (DNs) in the catchment area of the scheme. Responses were received from 85% of DNs and 65% of GPs. The majority of DNs (93%) and GPs (57%) had patients referred to CH@H, whereas 90% of DNs and 42% GPs had patients admitted. The most commonly reported reason for non-referral was lack of availability of places (GPs 62%; DNs 63%). Ninety per cent DNs and 84% GPs rated continuation of the scheme as important. The most important reported benefits were 24-h care (GPs 84%; DNs 82%) and help in keeping patients at home (GPs 69%; DNs 83%). Seventy-four DNs also considered help in arranging discharge to be important. Almost half GPs and DNs considered CH@H worse than other NHS services in terms of availability and limits on the duration of care. Whilst 65% of DNs thought CH@H had reduced workload, 77% GPs reported it had made no difference or had increased it. Most indicated that CH@H made a difference in allowing patients to die at home (GPs 60%; DNs 68%). The CH@H scheme is viewed as beneficial for patients requiring palliative care at home, although GPs and DNs expressed realistic reservations about specific aspects of the scheme. With the emergence of Primary Care Trusts, NHS commissioning of hospice at home services will more firmly rest with primary care practitioners, who on balance clearly prize them.


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