Healthcare systems globally are reconfiguring to address the needs of people with long-term conditions such as respiratory disease. Primary Care Organisations (PCOs) in England and Wales are charged with the task of developing cost-effective patient-centred local models of care. We aimed to investigate how PCOs in England and Wales are reconfiguring their workforce to develop respiratory services, and the background factors influencing service redesign.
Semi-structured qualitative telephone interviews with the person(s) responsible for driving respiratory service reconfiguration in a purposive sample of 30 PCOs. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded and thematically analysed.
We interviewed representatives of 30 PCOs with diverse demographic profiles planning a range of models of care. Although the primary driver was consistently identified as the need to respond to a central policy to shift the delivery of care for people with long-term conditions into the community whilst achieving financial balance, the design and implementation of services were subject to a broad range of local, and at times serendipitous, influences. The focus was almost exclusively on the complex needs of patients at the top of the long-term conditions (LTC) pyramid, with the aim of reducing admissions. Whilst some PCOs seemed able to develop innovative care despite uncertainty and financial restrictions, most highlighted many barriers to progress, describing initiatives suddenly shelved for lack of money, progress impeded by reluctant clinicians, plans thwarted by conflicting policies and a PCO workforce demoralised by job insecurity.
For many of our interviewees there was a large gap between central policy rhetoric driving workforce change, and the practical reality of implementing change within PCOs when faced with the challenges of limited resources, diverse professional attitudes and an uncertain organisational context. Research should concentrate on understanding these complex dynamics in order to inform the policymakers, commissioners, health service managers and professionals.
Supporting self-care is being explored across health care systems internationally as an approach to improving care for long term conditions in the context of ageing populations and economic constraint. UK health policy advocates a range of approaches to supporting self-care, including the application of generic self-management type programmes across conditions. Within mental health, the scope of self-care remains poorly conceptualised and the existing evidence base for supporting self-care is correspondingly disparate. This paper aims to inform the development of support for self-care in mental health by considering how generic self-care policy guidance is implemented in the context of services supporting people with severe, long term mental health problems.
A mixed method study was undertaken comprising standardised psychosocial measures, questionnaires about health service use and qualitative interviews with 120 new referrals to three contrasting community based initiatives supporting self-care for severe, long term mental health problems, repeated nine months later. A framework approach was taken to qualitative analysis, an exploratory statistical analysis sought to identify possible associations between a range of independent variables and self-care outcomes, and a narrative synthesis brought these analyses together.
Participants reported improvement in self-care outcomes (e.g. greater empowerment; less use of Accident and Emergency services). These changes were not associated with level of engagement with self-care support. Level of engagement was associated with positive collaboration with support staff. Qualitative data described the value of different models of supporting self-care and considered challenges. Synthesis of analyses suggested that timing support for self-care, giving service users control over when and how they accessed support, quality of service user-staff relationships and decision making around medication are important issues in supporting self-care in mental health.
Service delivery components – e.g. peer support groups, personal planning – advocated in generic self-care policy have value when implemented in a mental health context. Support for self-care in mental health should focus on core, mental health specific qualities; issues of control, enabling staff-service user relationships and shared decision making. The broad empirical basis of our research indicates the wider relevance of our findings across mental health settings.
Long term conditions; Mental health; Self-care; Self-management; Peer support
Long-term neurological conditions are a major cause of disability in the UK and internationally. Their successful management, in order to enhance health and well-being, requires both sophisticated organisation across a number of health, social care and other service boundaries, and the real involvement of people with neurological conditions and members of their support networks.
This paper reports on part of the preliminary scoping phase of a study designed to evaluate the impact of the National Service Framework for long-term neurological conditions on integrated care. It describes current policies in England and reports on discussions with a range of people involved in the planning, provision or use of services, which took place during the scoping exercise. These interviews inform how policy affecting people with long-term neurological conditions has been received and implemented so far.
Conclusion and discussion
Findings suggest that progress towards integrated service provision is patchy and slow. In the competing priorities within government policy, neurological conditions have tended to be marginalised, within healthcare policy generally and in initiatives to support people with long-term conditions in particular. The reasons for this are explored and will inform the next stages of the research.
long-term neurological conditions; integrated care; health and well-being
To examine the work of commissioning care for people with long-term conditions and the factors inhibiting or facilitating commissioners making service change.
Multisite mixed methods case study research, combining qualitative analysis of interviews, documents and observation of meetings.
Primary care trust managers and clinicians, general practice-based commissioners, National Health Service trust and foundation trust senior managers and clinicians, voluntary sector and local government representatives.
Three ‘commissioning communities’ (areas covered by a primary care trust) in England, 2010–2012.
Commissioning services for people with long-term conditions was a long drawn-out process involving a range of activities and partners. Only some of the activities undertaken by commissioners, such as assessment of local health needs, coordination of healthcare planning and service specification, appeared in the official ‘commissioning cycle’ promoted by the Department of Health. Commissioners undertook a significant range of additional activities focused on reviewing and redesigning services and providing support for implementation of new services. These activities often involved partnership working with providers and other stakeholders and appeared to be largely divorced from contracting and financial negotiations. At least for long-term condition services, the time and effort involved in such work appeared to be disproportionate to the anticipated or likely service gains. Commissioners adopting an incremental approach to service change in defined and manageable areas of work appeared to be more successful in terms of delivering planned changes in service delivery than those attempting to bring about wide-scale change across complex systems.
Commissioning for long-term condition services challenges the conventional distinction between commissioners and providers with a significant amount of work focused on redesigning services in partnership with providers. Such work is labour-intensive and potentially unsustainable at a time of reduced finances. New clinical commissioning groups will need to determine how best to balance the relational and transactional elements of commissioning.
Health Services Administration & Management; Qualitative Research
Using frameworks, such as the long-term conditions pyramid of healthcare, primary care organizations (PCOs) in England and Wales are exploring ways of developing services for people with long-term respiratory disease. We aimed to explore the current and planned respiratory services and the roles of people responsible for change.
A purposive sample of 30 PCOs in England and Wales.
Semi-structured telephone interviews with the person responsible for driving the reconfiguration of respiratory services. Recorded interviews were transcribed and coded, and themes identified. The association of the composition of the team driving change with the breadth of services provided was explored using a matrix.
All but two of the PCOs described clinical services developed to address the needs of people with respiratory conditions, usually with a focus on preventing admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although the majority identified the need to develop a strategic approach to service development and to meet educational needs of primary care professionals, relatively few described clearly developed plans for addressing these issues. Involvement of clinicians from both primary and secondary care was associated with a broad multifaceted approach to service development. Teamwork was often challenging, but could prove rewarding for participants and could result in a fruitful alignment of objectives. The imminent merger of PCOs and overriding financial constraints resulted in a ‘fluid’ context which challenged successful implementation of plans.
While the majority of PCOs are developing clinical services for people with complex needs (principally in order to reduce admissions), relatively few are addressing the broader strategic issues and providing for local educational needs. The presence of multidisciplinary teams, which integrated primary and secondary care clinicians with PCO management, was associated with more comprehensive service provision addressing the needs of all respiratory patients. Future research needs to provide insight into the structures, processes and inter-professional relationships that facilitate development of clinical, educational and policy initiatives which aim to enhance local delivery of respiratory care.
Research focusing on the introduction of daily mouth care programs for dependent older adults in long-term care has met with limited success. There is a need for greater awareness about the importance of oral health, more education for those providing oral care, and organizational structures that provide policy and administrative support for daily mouth care. The purpose of this paper is to describe the establishment of an oral care action plan for long-term care using an interdisciplinary collaborative approach. Methods. Elements of a program planning cycle that includes assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation guided this work and are described in this paper. Findings associated with assessment and planning are detailed. Assessment involved exploration of internal and external factors influencing oral care in long-term care and included document review, focus groups and one-on-one interviews with end-users. The planning phase brought care providers, stakeholders, and researchers together to design a set of actions to integrate oral care into the organizational policy and practice of the research settings. Findings. The establishment of a meaningful and productive collaboration was beneficial for developing realistic goals, understanding context and institutional culture, creating actions suitable and applicable for end-users, and laying a foundation for broader networking with relevant stakeholders and health policy makers.
Aim of the study
The aim of the study is to explore and describe what hampers and promotes the implementation of ‘Individual Plan’—Norway’s answer to integrated care, and to discuss the findings according to implementation theory and research.
‘Individual Plan’ is a master-plan intended to increase user-participation and provide better coordination of measures for patients in need of extensive and long-term health-care services. Norwegian Health Authorities used a dissemination strategy to implement ‘Individual Plan’ but managers within health and social care could choose their own way of implementation in their organisation.
Twenty-two managers from different clinics and organisational levels within mental health care were interviewed with an in-depth semi-structured interview about the implementation process in their organisation. The analysis was primarily made according to systematic text condensation.
The findings describe different implementation processes and how the managers identified with the usefulness of ‘Individual Plan’ as a tool, choice of practical implementation strategies, the manager’s own role, characteristics of organisational culture as well as how the manager considered external factors such as administration, lack of time and resources. The evolved implementation themes are discussed within a frame of existing knowledge and theory.
A complex picture of barriers, dilemmas and benefits emerges, both internal and external to an organisation as well as at a personal level that need to be taken into consideration in forthcoming implementation processes to increase the rate of success.
Implementation; management; integrated care model; mental health
Since 1991, there has been a series of reforms of the English National Health Service (NHS) entailing an increasing separation between the commissioners of services and a widening range of public and independent sector providers able to compete for contracts to provide services to NHS patients. We examine the extent to which local commissioners had adopted a market-oriented (transactional) model of commissioning of care for people with long term conditions several years into the latest period of market-oriented reform. The paper also considers the factors that may have inhibited or supported market-oriented behaviour, including the presence of conditions conducive to a health care quasi-market.
We studied the commissioning of services for people with three long term conditions - diabetes, stroke and dementia - in three English primary care trust (PCT) areas over two years (2010-12). We took a broadly ethnographic approach to understanding the day-to-day practice of commissioning. Data were collected through interviews, observation of meetings and from documents.
In contrast to a transactional, market-related approach organised around commissioner choice of provider and associated contracting, commissioning was largely relational, based on trust and collaboration with incumbent providers. There was limited sign of commissioners significantly challenging providers, changing providers, or decommissioning services.
In none of the service areas were all the conditions for a well functioning quasi-market in health care in place. Choice of provider was generally absent or limited; information on demand and resource requirements was highly imperfect; motivations were complex; and transaction costs uncertain, but likely to be high. It was difficult to divide care into neat units for contracting purposes. As a result, it is scarcely surprising that commissioning practice in relation to all six commissioning developments was dominated by a relational approach.
Our findings challenge the notion of a strict separation of commissioners and providers, and instead demonstrate the adaptive persistence of relational commissioning based on continuity of provision, trust and interdependence between commissioners and providers, at least for services for people with long-term conditions.
People living with a long term condition may wish to be able to plan ahead, so that if in future they cannot make decisions, their wishes about their care will be known; this process is termed Advance Care Planning (ACP). In dementia, guidance stipulates that ACP discussions should take place whilst the person still has capacity to make decisions. However there is a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of ACP in influencing patient choice and resource use. The aims of this study are to determine the effectiveness of ACP in dementia care, identify the factors which facilitate the process in practice and provide a better understanding of the views and experiences of key stakeholders in order to inform clinical practice.
The four phase project comprises a systematic review (Phase 1) and a series of qualitative studies (Phases 2 and 3), with data collection via focus groups and individual interviews with relevant stakeholders including people with dementia and their carers, health and social care professionals and representatives from voluntary organisations and the legal profession. The conduct of the systematic review will follow current best practice guidance. In phases 2 and 3, focus groups will be employed to seek the perspectives of the professionals; individual interviews will be carried out with people with dementia and their carers. Data from Phases 1, 2 and 3 will be synthesised in a series of team workshops to develop draft guidance and educational tools for implementing ACP in practice (Phase 4).
In the UK, there is little published research on the effectiveness of ACP, despite its introduction into policy. This study was designed to explore in greater depth how ACP can best be carried out in routine practice. It affords the opportunity to develop both a theoretical and practical understanding of an area which both patients and professionals may find emotionally challenging. Importantly the study will also develop practical tools, which are grounded in practice, for all relevant stakeholders to enable the facilitation of timely and sensitive ACP discussions.
In order to better understand factors that influence decisions for public health, we undertook a qualitative study to explore issues relating to the time horizons used in decision-making.
Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. 33 individuals involved in the decision making process around coronary heart disease were purposively sampled from the UK National Health Service (national, regional and local levels), academia and voluntary organizations. Analysis was based on the framework method using N-VIVO software. Interviews were transcribed, coded and emergent themes identified.
Many participants suggested that the timescales for public health decision-making are too short. Commissioners and some practitioners working at the national level particularly felt constrained in terms of planning for the long-term. Furthermore respondents felt that longer term planning was needed to address the wider determinants of health and to achieve societal level changes. Three prominent 'systems' issues were identified as important drivers of short term thinking: the need to demonstrate impact within the 4 year political cycle; the requirement to 'balance the books' within the annual commissioning cycle and the disruption caused by frequent re-organisations within the health service. In addition respondents suggested that the tools and evidence base for longer term planning were not well established.
Many public health decision and policy makers feel that the timescales for decision-making are too short. Substantial systemic barriers to longer-term planning exist. Policy makers need to look beyond short-term targets and budget cycles to secure investment for long-term improvement in public health.
Universal newborn screening for early detection of children affected by sickle cell disorders and cystic fibrosis is currently being implemented across England. Parents of infants identified as carriers of these disorders must also be informed of their baby's result. However there is a lack of evidence for most effective practice internationally when doing so. This study describes current or proposed models for imparting this information in practice and explores associated challenges for policy.
Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with Child Health Coordinators from all English Health Regions.
Diverse methods for imparting carrier results, both within and between regions, and within and between conditions, were being implemented or planned. Models ranged from result by letter to in-person communication during a home visit. Non-specialists were considered the best placed professionals to give results and a similar approach for both conditions was emphasised. While national guidance has influenced choice of models, other factors contributed such as existing service structures and lack of funding. Challenges included uncertainty about guidance specifying face to face notification; how best to balance allaying parental anxiety by using familiar non-specialist health professionals with concerns about practitioner competence; and extent of information parents should be given. Inadequate consideration of resource and service workload was seen as the main policy obstacle. Clarification of existing guidance; more specific protocols to ensure consistent countrywide practice; integration of the two programmes; and 'normalising' carrier status were suggested as improvements.
Differing models for communicating carrier results raise concerns about equity and clinical governance. However, this variation provides opportunity for evaluation. Timely and more detailed guidance on protocols with clarification of existing recommendations is needed.
There is limited evidence of the unmet needs and experiences of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the published scientific literature. This study aimed to explore the experiences of adults in England with ADHD regarding access to diagnostic and treatment services, ADHD-related impairment and to compare experiences between patients diagnosed during adulthood and childhood.
In this qualitative study, 30 adults with ADHD were recruited through an ADHD charity (n = 17) and two hospital outpatient clinics for adults with ADHD in England (n = 13). Half of the participants were diagnosed with ADHD during childhood or adolescence and the remainder during adulthood. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and data was analysed using a thematic approach based on Grounded Theory principles.
Analysis revealed five core themes: ‘An uphill struggle’: the challenge of accessing services, ‘Accumulated Psychosocial Burden and the Impact of ADHD’, ‘Weighing up Costs vs. Benefits of ADHD Pharmacological Treatment’, ‘Value of Non-pharmacological Treatment’ and ‘Barriers to Treatment Adherence’. Accessing services and the challenges associated with securing a definitive diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood was an ‘uphill struggle’, often due to sceptical and negative attitudes towards ADHD by healthcare professionals. ADHD-related impairment had an overwhelmingly chaotic impact on every aspect of patients’ lives and many felt ill equipped to cope. A persistent sense of failure and missed potential from living with the impact of ADHD impairment had led to an accumulated psychosocial burden, especially among those diagnosed from late adolescence onwards. In contrast, positive adjustment was facilitated by a younger age at diagnosis. Although medication was perceived as necessary in alleviating impairment, many felt strongly that by itself, it was inadequate. Additional support in the form of psychological therapies or psycho-education was strongly desired. However, few patients had access to non-pharmacological treatment. In some, medication use was often inadequately monitored with little or no follow-up by healthcare professionals, leading to poor adherence and a sense of abandonment from the healthcare system.
The findings suggest that the unmet needs of adults with ADHD are substantial and that there is a wide gap between policy and current practice in England.
Adult; ADHD; Qualitative; Experiences; Treatment; Impairment
Objectives To describe and evaluate the implementation and adoption of detailed electronic health records in secondary care in England and thereby provide early feedback for the ongoing local and national rollout of the NHS Care Records Service.
Design A mixed methods, longitudinal, multisite, socio-technical case study.
Setting Five NHS acute hospital and mental health trusts that have been the focus of early implementation efforts and at which interim data collection and analysis are complete.
Data sources and analysis Dataset for the evaluation consists of semi-structured interviews, documents and field notes, observations, and quantitative data. Qualitative data were analysed thematically with a socio-technical coding matrix, combined with additional themes that emerged from the data.
Main results Hospital electronic health record applications are being developed and implemented far more slowly than was originally envisioned; the top-down, standardised approach has needed to evolve to admit more variation and greater local choice, which hospital trusts want in order to support local activity. Despite considerable delays and frustrations, support for electronic health records remains strong, including from NHS clinicians. Political and financial factors are now perceived to threaten nationwide implementation of electronic health records. Interviewees identified a range of consequences of long term, centrally negotiated contracts to deliver the NHS Care Records Service in secondary care, particularly as NHS trusts themselves are not party to these contracts. These include convoluted communication channels between different stakeholders, unrealistic deployment timelines, delays, and applications that could not quickly respond to changing national and local NHS priorities. Our data suggest support for a “middle-out” approach to implementing hospital electronic health records, combining government direction with increased local autonomy, and for restricting detailed electronic health record sharing to local health communities.
Conclusions Experiences from the early implementation sites, which have received considerable attention, financial investment and support, indicate that delivering improved healthcare through nationwide electronic health records will be a long, complex, and iterative process requiring flexibility and local adaptability both with respect to the systems and the implementation strategy. The more tailored, responsive approach that is emerging is becoming better aligned with NHS organisations’ perceived needs and is, if pursued, likely to deliver clinically useful electronic health record systems.
The Medical Home model recommends that Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) receive a medical care plan, outlining the child’s major medical issues and care needs to assist with care coordination. While care plans are a primary component of effective care coordination, the creation and maintenance of care plans is time, labor, and cost intensive, and the desired content of the care plan has not been studied. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the usefulness and desired content of comprehensive care plans by exploring the perceptions of parents and health care providers (HCPs) of children with medical complexity (CMC).
This qualitative study utilized in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups. HCPs (n = 15) and parents (n = 15) of CMC who had all used a comprehensive care plan were recruited from a tertiary pediatric academic health sciences center. Themes were identified through grounded theory analysis of interview and focus group data.
A multi-dimensional model of perceived care plan usefulness emerged. The model highlights three integral aspects of the care plan: care plan characteristics, activating factors and perceived outcomes of using a care plan. Care plans were perceived as a useful tool that centralized and focused the care of the child. Care plans were reported to flatten the hierarchical relationship between HCPs and parents, resulting in enhanced reciprocal information exchange and strengthened relationships. Participants expressed that a standardized template that is family-centered and includes content relevant to both the medical and social needs of the child is beneficial when integrated into overall care planning and delivery for CMC.
Care plans are perceived to be a useful tool to both health care providers and parents of CMC. These findings inform the utility and development of a comprehensive care plan template as well as a model of how and when to best utilize care plans within family-centered models of care.
Complex care; Care plan; Children with medical complexity; Children with special healthcare needs
Clinical guidelines for management of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include recommendations based on high levels of evidence, but gaps exist in their implementation. The aim of this study was to examine the perspectives of medical practitioners regarding implementation of six high-evidence recommendations for the management of people with COPD.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with medical practitioners involved with care of COPD patients in hospital and general practice. Interviews sought medical practitioners’ experience regarding implementation of smoking cessation, influenza vaccination, pulmonary rehabilitation, guideline-based medications, long-term oxygen therapy for hypoxemia and plan and advice for future exacerbations. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and analyzed using content analysis.
Nine hospital-based medical practitioners and seven general practitioners participated. Four major categories were identified which impacted on implementation of the target recommendations in the care of patients with COPD: (1) role clarity of the medical practitioner; (2) persuasive communication with the patient; (3) complexity of behavioral change required; (4) awareness and support available at multiple levels. For some recommendations, strength in all four categories provided significant enablers supporting implementation. However, with regard to pulmonary rehabilitation and plans and advice for future exacerbations, all identified categories that presented barriers to implementation.
This study of medical practitioner perspectives has indicated areas where significant barriers to the implementation of key evidence-based recommendations in COPD management persist. Developing strategies to target the identified categories provides an opportunity to achieve greater implementation of those high-evidence recommendations in the care of people with COPD.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; guideline implementation; barriers; enablers; medical practitioners; qualitative research
Joint working between health and social care has long been a policy priority in England, with growing interest by the previous New Labour government in achieving ‘joined-up solutions to joined-up problems’.
Against this background, this paper reviews lessons from current and previous partnership initiatives, summarising some of the key approaches adopted and exploring key underlying concepts and frameworks.
Despite a tendency to focus on structural ‘solutions’, evidence and experience suggests a series of more important processes, approaches and concepts that might help to promote more effective inter-agency working—including a focus on outcomes, consideration of the depth and breadth of relationship required and the need to work together on different levels.
health and social care; partnership working
Objective To explore the experiences and perceptions of general practitioners and community nurses in discussing preferences for place of death with terminally ill patients.
Design Qualitative study using semistructured interviews and thematic analysis.
Participants 17 general practitioners and 19 nurses (16 district nurses, three clinical nurse specialists).
Setting 15 general practices participating in the Gold Standards Framework for palliative care from three areas in central England with differing socio-geography. Practices were selected on the basis of size and level of adoption of the standards framework.
Results All interviewees bar one had experience of discussing preferred place of death with terminally ill patients. They reported that preferences for place of death frequently changed over time and were often ill defined or poorly formed in patients’ minds. Preferences were often described as being co-created in discussion with the patient or, conversely, inferred by the health professional without direct questioning or receiving a definitive answer from the patient. This inherent uncertainty challenged the practicability, usefulness, and value of recording a definitive preference. The extent to which the assessment of enabling such preferences can be used as a proxy for the effectiveness of palliative care delivery is also limited by this uncertainty. Generally, interviewees did not find discussing preferred place of death an easy area of practice, unless the patient broached the subject or led the discussions.
Conclusions Further research is needed to enable development of appropriate training and support for primary care professionals. Better understanding of the importance of place of death to patients and their carers is also needed.
We performed semistructured interviews with 30 family members of patients with advanced dementia to identify the factors that facilitate or hinder advance planning by persons with dementia. All interviews were analyzed using qualitative data analysis techniques. The majority (77%) of family members reported that their relative had some form of written advance directive, and at least half reported previous discussions about health care preferences (57%), living situation or placement issues (50%), and finances or estate planning (60%) with the patient. Family members reported some themes that prompted planning and others that were barriers to planning. Events that most often triggered planning were medical, living situation, or financial issues associated with a friend or family member of the patient (57%). Barriers to planning included both passive and active avoidance. The most common form of passive avoidance was not realizing the importance of planning until it was too late to have the discussion (63%). The most common form of active avoidance was avoiding the discussion (53%). These data suggest potentially remediable strategies to address barriers to advance planning discussions.
advance care planning; Alzheimer disease; decision making; advance directives
The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the approaches to depression care preferred by older home-care patients and examine characteristics associated with those preferences. Twenty-eight long-term home-care patients, ages 62 to 95, were interviewed. Patients ranked their depression care preferences and provided rationale for their responses. Results indicated prayer was preferred by the highest percentage of patients (50%). Comparing patients with and without depression experience, prayer was preferred by the latter group. The results highlight the importance of addressing patient preferences during care planning to improve participation in geriatric depression care management.
As in most fields of health care, societal and political changes encourage suppliers of long-term care to put their clients at the center of care and service provision and become more responsive towards client needs and requirements. However, the diverse, multiple and dynamic nature of demand for long-term care complicates the movement towards demand-based care provision. This paper aims to advance long-term care practice and, to that end, examines the application of modularity. This concept is recognized in a wide range of product and service settings for its ability to design demand-based products and processes.
Starting from the basic dimensions of modularity, we use qualitative research to explore the use and application of modularity principles in the current working practices and processes of four organizations in the field of long-term care for the elderly. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 38 key informants and triangulated with document research and observation. Data was analyzed thematically by means of coding and subsequent exploration of patterns. Data analysis was facilitated by qualitative analysis software.
Our data suggest that a modular setup of supply is employed in the arrangement of care and service supply and assists providers of long-term care in providing their clients with choice options and variation. In addition, modularization of the needs assessment and package specification process allows the case organizations to manage client involvement but still provide customized packages of care and services.
The adequate setup of an organization's supply and its specification phase activities are indispensible for long-term care providers who aim to do better in terms of quality and efficiency. Moreover, long-term care providers could benefit from joint provision of care and services by means of modular working teams. Based upon our findings, we are able to elaborate on how to further enable demand-based provision of long-term care by means of modularity.
To explore how patients use record access, its impact and the benefits and drawbacks of using it.
Qualitative study using focus group interviews, individual interviews and telephone interviews.
General practice offering electronic access to full medical records using PAERS system.
Forty-three patients aged between 20 and 71 years participated. Of these, nine were in the healthy group, eight had long-term health conditions, 10 were in the mental health group and 16 were pregnant.
Three themes emerged as to how patients used record access – participation in care, quality of care and self-care strategies. Record access was used to help prepare patients for consultations, compensate for poor or complex communication during consultations and to reduce the fragmentation of care. Record access had a small impact on health behavior intentions. Overall patients felt that record access reinforced trust and confidence in doctors and helped them feel like partners in healthcare.
This study suggests that record access improves shared management, with patients using their records to improve interactions with healthcare providers, make decisions about their health and improve the quality of the care they receive. These findings also suggest a possible long-term potential for record access to improve health outcomes.
Objective To explore how transitions to a palliative care approach are perceived to be managed in acute hospital settings in England.
Design Qualitative study.
Setting Secondary or primary care settings in two contrasting areas of England.
Participants 58 health professionals involved in the provision of palliative care in secondary or primary care.
Results Participants identified that a structured transition to a palliative care approach of the type advocated in UK policy guidance is seldom evident in acute hospital settings. In particular they reported that prognosis is not routinely discussed with inpatients. Achieving consensus among the clinical team about transition to palliative care was seen as fundamental to the transition being effected; however, this was thought to be insufficiently achieved in practice. Secondary care professionals reported that discussions about adopting a palliative care approach to patient management were not often held with patients; primary care professionals confirmed that patients were often discharged from hospital with “false hope” of cure because this information had not been conveyed. Key barriers to ensuring a smooth transition to palliative care included the difficulty of “standing back” in an acute hospital situation, professional hierarchies that limited the ability of junior medical and nursing staff to input into decisions on care, and poor communication.
Conclusion Significant barriers to implementing a policy of structured transitions to palliative care in acute hospitals were identified by health professionals in both primary and secondary care. These need to be addressed if current UK policy on management of palliative care in acute hospitals is to be established.
High rates of long-term antidepressant prescribing have been identified in the older population.
To explore the attitudes of older patients and their GPs to taking long-term antidepressant therapy, and their accounts of the influences on long-term antidepressant use.
Design of study
Qualitative study using in-depth semi-structured interviews.
One primary care trust in North Bradford.
Thirty-six patients aged ≥75 years and 10 GPs were interviewed. Patients were sampled to ensure diversity in age, sex, antidepressant type, and home circumstances.
Participants perceived significant benefits and expressed little apprehension about taking long-term antidepressants, despite being aware of the psychological and social factors involved in onset and persistence of depression. Barriers to discontinuation were identified following four themes: pessimism about the course and curability of depression; negative expectations and experiences of ageing; medicine discontinuation perceived by patients as a threat to stability; and passive (therapeutic momentum) and active (therapeutic maintenance) decisions to accept the continuing need for medication.
There is concern at a public health level about high rates of long-term antidepressant prescribing, but no evidence was found of a drive for change either from the patients or the doctors interviewed. Any apprehension was more than balanced by attitudes and behaviours supporting continuation. These findings will need to be incorporated into the planning of interventions aimed at reducing long-term antidepressant prescribing in older people.
antidepressants; prescribing; attitudes
NICE guidelines suggest that patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalitis (CFS/ME) should be managed in Primary Care. Practice Nurses are increasingly being involved in the management of long-term conditions, so are likely to also have a growing role in managing CFS/ME. However their attitudes to, and experiences of patients with CFS/ME and its management must be explored to understand what barriers may exist in developing their role for this group of patients. The aim of this study was to explore Practice Nurses' understanding and beliefs about CFS/ME and its management.
Semi-structured interviews with 29 Practice Nurses. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and an iterative approach used to develop themes from the dataset.
Practice nurses had limited understanding about CFS/ME which had been largely gained through contact with patients, friends, personal experiences and the media rather than formal training. They had difficulty seeing CFS/ME as a long term condition. They did identify a potential role they could have in management of CFS/ME but devalued their own skills in psychological intervention, and suggested counselling would be an appropriate therapeutic option. They recognised a need for further training and on going supervision from both medical and psychological colleagues. Some viewed the condition as contentious and held pejorative views about CFS/ME. Such scepticism and negative attitudes will be a significant barrier to the management of patients with CFS/ME in primary care.
The current role of Practice Nurses in the ongoing management of patients with CFS/ME is limited. Practice Nurses have little understanding of the evidence-base for treatment of CFS/ME, particularly psychological therapies, describing management options in terms of advice giving, self-help or counselling. Practice Nurses largely welcomed the potential development of their role in this area, but identified barriers and training needs which must be addressed to enable them to feel confident managing of patients with this condition. Training must begin by addressing negative attitudes to patients with CFS/ME.
Background. Most recommended care for chronic diseases is based on the research of single conditions. There is limited information on ‘best’ processes of care for persons with multiple morbidities. Our objective was to explore processes of care desired by elderly patients who have multimorbidities that may present competing demands for patients and providers.
Methods. Qualitative investigation using one-on-one interviews of 26 community-dwelling HMO members aged 65–84 (50% male) who had, at a minimum, the combined conditions of diabetes, depression and osteoarthritis. Participants were chosen from a stratified random sample to have a range of 4–16 chronic medical conditions.
Results. Participants’ desired processes of care included: the need for convenient access to providers (telephone, internet or in person), clear communication of individualized care plans, support from a single coordinator of care who could help prioritize their competing demands and continuity of relationships. They also desired providers who would listen to and acknowledge their needs, appreciate that these’ needs were unique and fluctuating and have a caring attitude.
Conclusions. These respondents describe an ideal process of care that is patient centered and individualized and that supports their unique constellations of problems, shifting priorities and multidimensional decision making. Individual and ongoing care coordination managed by a primary contact person may meet some of these needs. Achieving these goals will require developing efficient methods of assessing patient care needs and flexible care management support systems that can respond to patients’ needs for different levels of support at different times.
Care management; comorbidity; geriatrics