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1.  Impact of supervised drug consumption services on access to and engagement with care at a palliative and supportive care facility for people living with HIV/AIDS: a qualitative study 
Introduction
Improvements in the availability and effectiveness of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) have prolonged the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. However, mortality rates have remained high among populations that encounter barriers to accessing and adhering to HAART, notably people who use drugs. This population consequently has a high burden of illness and complex palliative and supportive care needs, but is often unable to access these services due to anti-drug policies and discrimination. In Vancouver, Canada, the Dr. Peter Centre (DPC), which operates a 24-bed residential HIV/AIDS care facility, has sought to improve access to palliative and supportive care services by adopting a comprehensive harm reduction strategy, including supervised injection services. We undertook this study to explore how the integration of comprehensive harm reduction services into this setting shapes access to and engagement with care.
Methods
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 13 DPC residents between November 2010 and August 2011. Interviews made use of a semistructured interview guide which facilitated discussion regarding how the DPC Residence's model of care (a) shaped healthcare access, (b) influenced healthcare interactions and (c) impacted drug use practices and overall health. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically.
Results
Participant accounts highlight how the harm reduction policy altered the structural-environmental context of healthcare services and thus mediated access to palliative and supportive care services. Furthermore, this approach fostered an atmosphere in which drug use could be discussed without the risk of punitive action, and thus increased openness between residents and staff. Finally, participants reported that the environmental supports provided by the DPC Residence decreased drug-related risks and improved health outcomes, including HAART adherence and survival.
Conclusions
This study highlights how adopting comprehensive harm reduction services can serve to improve access and equity in palliative and supportive care for drug-using populations.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.1.18855
PMCID: PMC3955762  PMID: 24629844
HIV/AIDS; palliative care; supervised drug consumption services; harm reduction; highly active antiretroviral therapy; qualitative research
2.  Recommendations for improving the end-of-life care system for homeless populations: A qualitative study of the views of Canadian health and social services professionals 
BMC Palliative Care  2012;11:14.
Background
Homeless populations have complex and diverse end-of-life care needs. However, they typically die outside of the end-of-life care system. To date, few studies have explored barriers to the end-of-life care system for homeless populations. This qualitative study involving health and social services professionals from across Canada sought to identify barriers to the end-of-life care system for homeless populations and generate recommendations to improve their access to end-of-life care.
Methods
Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 54 health and social services professionals involved in end-of-life care services delivery to homeless persons in six Canadian cities (Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Winnipeg). Participants included health administrators, physicians, nurses, social workers, harm reduction specialists, and outreach workers. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.
Results
Participants identified key barriers to end-of-life care services for homeless persons, including: (1) insufficient availability of end-of-life care services; (2) exclusionary operating procedures; and, (3) poor continuity of care. Participants identified recommendations that they felt had the potential to minimize these barriers, including: (1) adopting low-threshold strategies (e.g. flexible behavioural policies and harm reduction strategies); (2) linking with population-specific health and social care providers (e.g. emergency shelters); and, (3) strengthening population-specific training.
Conclusions
Homeless persons may be underserved by the end-of-life care system as a result of barriers that they face to accessing end-of-life care services. Changes in the rules and regulations that reflect the health needs and circumstances of homeless persons and measures to improve continuity of care have the potential to increase equity in the end-of-life care system for this underserved population.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-11-14
PMCID: PMC3490936  PMID: 22978354
3.  Harm reduction services as a point-of-entry to and source of end-of-life care and support for homeless and marginally housed persons who use alcohol and/or illicit drugs: a qualitative analysis 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:312.
Background
Homeless and marginally housed persons who use alcohol and/or illicit drugs often have end-of-life care needs that go unmet due to barriers that they face to accessing end-of-life care services. Many homeless and marginally housed persons who use these substances must therefore rely upon alternate sources of end-of-life care and support. This article explores the role of harm reduction services in end-of-life care services delivery to homeless and marginally housed persons who use alcohol and/or illicit drugs.
Methods
A qualitative case study design was used to explore end-of-life care services delivery to homeless and marginally housed persons in six Canadian cities. A key objective was to explore the role of harm reduction services. 54 health and social services professionals participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews. All participants reported that they provided care and support to this population at end-of-life.
Results
Harm reduction services (e.g., syringe exchange programs, managed alcohol programs, etc.) were identified as a critical point-of-entry to and source of end-of-life care and support for homeless and marginally housed persons who use alcohol and/or illicit drugs. Where possible, harm reduction services facilitated referrals to end-of-life care services for this population. Harm reduction services also provided end-of-life care and support when members of this population were unable or unwilling to access end-of-life care services, thereby improving quality-of-life and increasing self-determination regarding place-of-death.
Conclusions
While partnerships between harm reduction programs and end-of-life care services are identified as one way to improve access, it is noted that more comprehensive harm reduction services might be needed in end-of-life care settings if they are to engage this underserved population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-312
PMCID: PMC3355019  PMID: 22545586

Results 1-3 (3)