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Priorities and opportunities for palliative and end of life care in United Kingdom health policies: a national documentary analysis.

Sleeman, K. E., Timms, A., Gillam, J., Anderson, J. E. ORCID: 0000-0002-1452-8370, Harding, R., Sampson, E. L. and Evans, C. J. (2021). Priorities and opportunities for palliative and end of life care in United Kingdom health policies: a national documentary analysis.. BMC Palliative Care, 20, 108.. doi: 10.1186/s12904-021-00802-6

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Access to high-quality palliative care is inadequate for most people living and dying with serious illness. Policies aimed at optimising delivery of palliative and end of life care are an important mechanism to improve quality of care for the dying. The extent to which palliative care is included in national health policies is unknown. We aimed to identify priorities and opportunities for palliative and end of life care in national health policies in the UK.

METHODS: Documentary analysis consisting of 1) summative content analysis to describe the extent to which palliative and end of life care is referred to and/or prioritised in national health and social care policies, and 2) thematic analysis to explore health policy priorities that are opportunities to widen access to palliative and end of life care for people with serious illness. Relevant national policy documents were identified through web searches of key government and other organisations, and through expert consultation. Documents included were UK-wide or devolved (i.e. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales), health and social care government strategies published from 2010 onwards.

RESULTS: Fifteen policy documents were included in the final analysis. Twelve referred to palliative or end of life care, but details about what should improve, or mechanisms to achieve this, were sparse. Policy priorities that are opportunities to widen palliative and end of life care access comprised three inter-related themes: (1) integrated care - conceptualised as reorganisation of services as a way to enable improvement; (2) personalised care - conceptualised as allowing people to shape and manage their own care; and (3) support for unpaid carers - conceptualised as enabling unpaid carers to live a more independent lifestyle and balance caring with their own needs.

CONCLUSIONS: Although information on palliative and end of life care in UK health and social care policies was sparse, improving palliative care may provide an evidence-based approach to achieve the stated policy priorities of integrated care, personalised care, and support for unpaid carers. Aligning existing evidence of the benefits of palliative care with the three priorities identified may be an effective mechanism to both strengthen policy and improve care for people who are dying.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Palliative, Health policy, End of life care, Documentary analysis
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Nursing
Date available in CRO: 20 Jul 2021 15:26
Date deposited: 20 July 2021
Date of acceptance: 13 May 2021
Date of first online publication: 14 July 2021
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26472
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