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1.  Multidisciplinary transmural rehabilitation for older persons with a stroke: the design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:164.
Background
Stroke is one of the major causes of loss of independence, decreased quality of life and mortality among elderly people. About half of the elderly stroke patients discharged after rehabilitation in a nursing home still experience serious impairments in daily functioning one year post stroke, which can lead to difficulties in picking up and managing their social life. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a new multidisciplinary transmural rehabilitation programme for older stroke patients.
Methods
A two group multicentre randomised controlled trial is used to evaluate the effects of the rehabilitation programme. The programme consists of three care modules: 1) neurorehabilitation treatment for elderly stroke patients; 2) empowerment training for patient and informal caregiver; and 3) stroke education for patient and informal caregiver. The total programme has a duration of between two and six months, depending on the individual problems of the patient and informal caregiver. The control group receives usual care in the nursing home and after discharge.
Patients aged 65 years and over are eligible for study participation when they are admitted to a geriatric rehabilitation unit in a nursing home due to a recent stroke and are expected to be able to return to their original home environment after discharge. Data are gathered by face-to-face interviews, self-administered questionnaires, focus groups and registration forms. Primary outcomes for patients are activity level after stroke, functional dependence, perceived quality of life and social participation. Outcomes for informal caregivers are perceived care burden, objective care burden, quality of life and perceived health. Outcome measures of the process evaluation are implementation fidelity, programme deliverance and the opinion of the stroke professionals, patients and informal caregivers about the programme. Outcome measures of the economic evaluation are the healthcare utilisation and associated costs. Data are collected at baseline, and after six and 12 months. The first results of the study will be expected in 2014.
Trial registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Register Number ISRCTN62286281, The Dutch Trial Register NTR2412
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-164
PMCID: PMC3547810  PMID: 23273217
Stroke; Rehabilitation; Aftercare; Elderly persons; Discharged; Nursing home
2.  Correlations between disease-specific and generic health status questionnaires in patients with advanced COPD: a one-year observational study 
Background
Longitudinal studies analyzing the correlations between disease-specific and generic health status questionnaires at different time points in patients with advanced COPD are lacking. The aim of this study was to determine whether and to what extent a disease-specific health status questionnaire (Saint George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, SGRQ) correlates with generic health status questionnaires (EuroQol-5-Dimensions, EQ-5D; Assessment of Quality of Life instrument, AQoL; Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey, SF-36) at four different time points in patients with advanced COPD; and to determine the correlation between the changes in these questionnaires during one-year follow-up.
Methods
Demographic and clinical characteristics were assessed in 105 outpatients with advanced COPD at baseline. Disease-specific health status (SGRQ) and generic health status (EQ-5D, AQoL, SF-36) were assessed at baseline, four, eight, and 12 months. Correlations were determined between SGRQ and EQ-5D, AQoL, and SF-36 scores and changes in these scores. Agreement in direction of change was assessed.
Results
Eighty-four patients (80%) completed one-year follow-up and were included for analysis. SGRQ total score and EQ-5D index score, AQoL total score and SF-36 Physical Component Summary measure (SF-36 PCS) score were moderately to strongly correlated. The correlation of the changes between the SGRQ total score and EQ-5D index score, AQoL total score, SF-36 PCS, and SF-36 Mental Component Summary measure (SF-36 MCS) score were weak or absent. The direction of changes in SGRQ total scores agreed slightly with the direction of changes in EQ-5D index score, AQoL total score, and SF-36 PCS score.
Conclusions
At four, eight and 12 months after baseline, SGRQ total scores and EQ-5D index scores, AQoL total scores and SF-36 PCS scores were moderately to strongly correlated, while SGRQ total scores were weakly correlated with SF-36 MCS scores. The correlations between changes over time were weak or even absent. Disease-specific health status questionnaires and generic health status questionnaires should be used together to gain complete insight in health status and changes in health status over time in patients with advanced COPD.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-98
PMCID: PMC3493349  PMID: 22909154
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Health-related quality of life; St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire; Health status; Disease-specific health status; Generic health status
3.  The prevalence and management of heart failure in Dutch nursing homes; design of a multi-centre cross-sectional study 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:29.
Background
Heart failure is likely to be particularly prevalent in the nursing home population, but reliable data about the prevalence of heart failure in nursing homes are lacking. Therefore the aims of this study are to investigate (a) the prevalence and management of heart failure in nursing home residents and (b) the relation between heart failure and care dependency as well as heart failure and quality of life in nursing home residents.
Methods/design
Nursing home residents in the southern part of the Netherlands, aged over 65 years and receiving long-term somatic or psychogeriatric care will be included in the study. A panel of two cardiologists and a geriatrician will diagnose heart failure based on data collected from actual clinical examinations (including history, physical examination, ECG, cardiac markers and echocardiography), patient records and questionnaires. Care dependency will be measured using the Care Dependency Scale. To measure the quality of life of the participating residents, the Qualidem will be used for psychogeriatric residents and the SF-12 and VAS for somatic residents.
Conclusion
The study will provide an insight into the actual prevalence and management of heart failure in nursing home residents as well as their quality of life and care dependency.
Trial registration
Dutch trial register NTR2663
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-29
PMCID: PMC3462700  PMID: 22686685
4.  The Budget Impact of Oral Nutritional Supplements for Disease Related Malnutrition in Elderly in the Community Setting 
A health economic analysis was performed to assess the economic impact on the national health care budget of using oral nutritional supplements (ONS), being a food for special medical purposes also known as medical nutrition, for the treatment of disease related malnutrition (DRM) in the community in the Netherlands. An economic model was developed to calculate the budget impact of using ONS in community dwelling elderly (>5 years) with DRM in the Netherlands. The model reflects the costs of DRM and the cost reductions resulting from improvement in DRM due to treatment with ONS. Using ONS for the treatment of DRM in community dwelling elderly, leads to a total annual cost savings of € 13 million (18.9% savings), when all eligible patients are treated. The additional costs of ONS (€ 57 million) are more than balanced by a reduction of other health care costs, e.g., re-/hospitalization (€ 70 million). Sensitivity analyses were performed on all parameters, including duration of treatment with ONS and the prevalence of DRM. This budget impact analysis shows that the use of ONS for treatment of DRM in elderly patients in the community may lead to cost savings in the Netherlands.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00078
PMCID: PMC3355295  PMID: 22629244
disease related malnutrition; medical nutrition; oral nutritional supplements; economic impact; budget impact; costs
5.  Effectiveness of Physio Acoustic Sound (PAS) therapy in demented nursing home residents with nocturnal restlessness: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:34.
Background
Many older people with neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia suffer from sleeping problems and often show nocturnal restlessness. Professionals and informal carers face considerable problems in solving these problems. Attempts to diminish these problems with medication in a safe and responsible manner have proven hardly effective or not effective at all. Therefore, nowadays the focus lies more on non-pharmacological solutions, for example by influencing environmental factors. There are indications that treatment with low-frequency acoustic vibrations, that is Physio Acoustic Sound (PAS) therapy, has a positive effect on sleeping problems. Therefore we study the effectiveness of PAS therapy in demented patients with nocturnal restlessness.
Methods
In a randomized clinical trial, 66 nursing home patients will be divided into two groups: an intervention group and a control group. For both groups nocturnal restlessness will be measured with actiwatches during a period of six weeks. In addition, a sleep diary will be filled in.
For the intervention group the baseline will be assessed, in the first two weeks, reflecting the existing situation regarding nocturnal restlessness. In the next two weeks, this group will sleep on a bed identical to their own, but with a mattress containing an in-built PAS device. As soon as the patient is lying in bed, the computer programme inducing the vibrations will be switched on for the duration of 30 min. In the last two weeks, the wash-out period, the measurements of the intervention group are continued, without the PAS intervention.
During the total study period, other relevant data of all the implied patients will be recorded systematically and continuously, for example patient characteristics (data from patient files), the type and seriousness of the dementia, occurrence of neuropsychiatric symptoms during the research period, and the occurrence of intermittent co-morbidity.
Discussion
If PAS therapy turns out to be effective, it can be of added value to the treatment of nocturnal restlessness in demented patients. Non-pharmacological PAS therapy is not only safe and patient-friendly, but it can also be widely used in a simple and relatively inexpensive way, both in institutions such as nursing homes and residential homes for the elderly, and at home. Ultimately, this may lead to a decrease in the frequent and still common use of psychotropic drugs. In addition, care needs of demented patients also may decrease as well as the number of preventable admissions to care institutions.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR3242
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-34
PMCID: PMC3349520  PMID: 22495093
Dementia; Sleep; Actiwatch; Physio acoustic sound; Nursing home; Nocturnal restlessness
7.  Towards a better integrated stroke care: the development of integrated stroke care in the southern part of the Netherlands during the last 15 years (Special 10th Anniversary Edition paper) 
Introduction
Stroke care is complex and often provided by various healthcare organisations. Integrated care solutions are needed to optimise stroke care. In this paper, we describe the development of integrated stroke care in the region of Maastricht during the last 15 years.
Description of integrated care case
Located in the south of the Netherlands, the region of Maastricht developed integrated stroke care to serve a population of about 180,000 people. Integration was needed to improve the continuity, coordination and quality of stroke care. The development of integrated care in Maastricht was a phased process. The last phase emphasized early discharge from hospital and assessing the best individual rehabilitation track in a specialized nursing home setting.
Discussion and lessons learned
The development and implementation of integrated stroke care in the region of Maastricht led to fewer days in hospital, more patients being directly admitted to the stroke unit and an earlier start of rehabilitation. The implementation of early discharge from the hospital and rehabilitation assessment in a nursing home led to some unforeseen problems and lessons learned.
PMCID: PMC3440254  PMID: 22977422
integrated care; stroke service; Netherlands
8.  Quality of life of residents with dementia in long-term care settings in the Netherlands and Belgium: design of a longitudinal comparative study in traditional nursing homes and small-scale living facilities 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:20.
Background
The increase in the number of people with dementia will lead to greater demand for residential care. Currently, large nursing homes are trying to transform their traditional care for residents with dementia to a more home-like approach, by developing small-scale living facilities. It is often assumed that small-scale living will improve the quality of life of residents with dementia. However, little scientific evidence is currently available to test this. The following research question is addressed in this study: Which (combination of) changes in elements affects (different dimensions of) the quality of life of elderly residents with dementia in long-term care settings over the course of one year?
Methods/design
A longitudinal comparative study in traditional and small-scale long-term care settings, which follows a quasi-experimental design, will be carried out in Belgium and the Netherlands. To answer the research question, a model has been developed which incorporates relevant elements influencing quality of life in long-term care settings. Validated instruments will be used to evaluate the role of these elements, divided into environmental characteristics (country, type of ward, group size and nursing staff); basic personal characteristics (age, sex, cognitive decline, weight and activities of daily living); behavioural characteristics (behavioural problems and depression); behavioural interventions (use of restraints and use of psychotropic medication); and social interaction (social engagement and visiting frequency of relatives). The main outcome measure for residents in the model is quality of life. Data are collected at baseline, after six and twelve months, from residents living in either small-scale or traditional care settings.
Discussion
The results of this study will provide an insight into the determinants of quality of life for people with dementia living in traditional and small-scale long-term care settings in Belgium and the Netherlands. Possible relevant strengths and weaknesses of the study are discussed in this article.
Trial registration
ISRCTN: ISRCTN23772945
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-20
PMCID: PMC3098158  PMID: 21539731
9.  Pressure ulcer incidence in Dutch and German nursing homes: design of a prospective multicenter cohort study 
BMC Nursing  2011;10:8.
Background
Pressure ulcers are a common and serious health care problem in all health care settings. Results from annual national pressure ulcer prevalence surveys in the Netherlands and Germany reveal large differences in prevalence rates between both countries over the past ten years, especially in nursing homes. When examining differences in prevalence and incidence rates, it is important to take into account all factors associated with the development of pressure ulcers. Numerous studies have identified patient related factors, as well as nursing related interventions as risk factors for the development of pressure ulcers. Next to these more process oriented factors, also structural factors such as staffing levels and staff quality play a role in the development of pressure ulcers. This study has been designed to investigate the incidence of pressure ulcers in nursing homes in the Netherlands and Germany and to identify patient related factors, nursing related factors and structural factors associated with pressure ulcer development. The present article describes the protocol for this study.
Methods/design
A prospective multicenter study is designed in which a cohort of newly admitted nursing home residents in 10 Dutch and 11 German nursing homes will be followed for a period of 12 weeks. Data will be collected by research assistants using questionnaires on four different levels: resident, staff, ward, and nursing home.
Discussion
The results of the study will provide information on the incidence of pressure ulcers in Dutch and German nursing homes. Furthermore, information will be gathered on the influence of patient related factors, nursing related factors and structural factors on the incidence of pressure ulcers. The present article describes the study design and addresses the study's strengths and weaknesses.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-10-8
PMCID: PMC3111358  PMID: 21526990
10.  Impaired health status and care dependency in patients with advanced COPD or chronic heart failure 
Quality of Life Research  2011;20(10):1679-1688.
Purpose
Aims of this cross-sectional study were to assess health status and care dependency in patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or chronic heart failure (CHF) and to identify correlates of an impaired health status.
Methods
The following outcomes were assessed in outpatients with advanced COPD (n = 105) or CHF (n = 80): clinical characteristics; general health status (EuroQol-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D); Assessment of Quality of Life instrument (AQoL); Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36)); disease-specific health status (St. Georges Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ)); physical mobility (timed ‘Up and Go’ test); and care dependency (Care Dependency Scale).
Results
Patients with advanced COPD or CHF have an impaired health status and may be confronted with care dependency. Multiple regression analyses have shown that physical and psychological symptoms, care dependency and number of drugs were correlated with impaired health status in advanced COPD or CHF, while demographic and clinical characteristics like age, gender, disease severity and co-morbidities were not correlated.
Conclusions
Clinical care should regularly assess symptom burden and care dependency to identify patients with advanced COPD or CHF at risk for an impaired health status.
doi:10.1007/s11136-011-9892-9
PMCID: PMC3220822  PMID: 21442430
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Chronic heart failure; Health status; Health-related quality of life; Care dependency; Functional status
11.  Improving long-term care provision: towards demand-based care by means of modularity 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-278
PMCID: PMC2955018  PMID: 20858256
12.  Feasibility of a mental practice intervention in stroke patients in nursing homes; a process evaluation 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:74.
Background
Within a multi-centre randomised controlled trial in three nursing homes, a process evaluation of a mental practice intervention was conducted. The main aims were to determine if the intervention was performed according to the framework and to describe the therapists' and participants' experiences with and opinions on the intervention.
Methods
The six week mental practice intervention was given by physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the rehabilitation teams and consisted of four phases: explanation of imagery, teaching patients how to use imagery, using imagery as part of therapy, and facilitating the patient in using it alone and for new tasks. It had a mandatory and an optional part. Data were collected by means of registration forms, pre structured patient files, patient logs and self-administered questionnaires.
Results
A total of 14 therapists and 18 patients with stroke in the sub acute phase of recovery were involved. Response rates differed per assessment (range 57-93%). Two patients dropped out of the study (total n = 16). The mandatory part of the intervention was given to 11 of 16 patients: 13 received the prescribed amount of mental practice and 12 practiced unguided outside of therapy. The facilitating techniques of the optional part of the framework were partly used. Therapists were moderately positive about the use of imagery in this specific sample. Although it was more difficult for some patients to generate images than others, all patients were positive about the intervention and reported perceived short term benefits from mental practice.
Conclusions
The intervention was less feasible than we hoped. Implementing a complex therapy delivered by existing multi-professional teams to a vulnerable population with a complex pathology poses many challenges.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-74
PMCID: PMC2939509  PMID: 20735827
13.  Supervised versus non-supervised implementation of an oral health care guideline in (residential) care homes: a cluster randomized controlled clinical trial 
BMC Oral Health  2010;10:17.
Background
The increase of the proportion of elderly people has implications for health care services. Advances in oral health care and treatment have resulted in a reduced number of edentulous individuals. An increasing number of dentate elderly people have tooth wear, periodontal disease, oral implants, and sophisticated restorations and prostheses. Hence, they are in need of both preventive and curative oral health care continuously. Weakened oral health due to neglect of self care and professional care and due to reduced oral health care utilization is already present when elderly people are still community-dwelling. At the moment of (residential) care home admittance, many elderly people are in need of oral health care urgently. The key factor in realizing and maintaining good oral health is daily oral hygiene care. For proper daily oral hygiene care, many residents are dependent on nurses and nurse aides. In 2007, the Dutch guideline "Oral health care in (residential) care homes for elderly people" was developed. Previous implementation research studies have revealed that implementation of a guideline is very complicated. The overall aim of this study is to compare a supervised versus a non-supervised implementation of the guideline in The Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium).
Methods/Design
The study is a cluster randomized intervention trial with an institution as unit of randomization. A random sample of 12 (residential) care homes accommodating somatic as well as psycho-geriatric residents in The Netherlands as well as in Flanders (Belgium) are randomly allocated to an intervention or control group. Representative samples of 30 residents in each of the 24 (residential) care homes are monitored during a 6-months period. The intervention consists of supervised implementation of the guideline and a daily oral health care protocol. Primary outcome variable is the oral hygiene level of the participating residents. To determine the stimulating or inhibiting factors of the implementation project and the nurses' and nurse aides' compliance and perceived barriers, a process evaluation is carried out.
Discussion
The method of cluster randomization may result in a random effect and cluster selection bias, which has to be taken into account when analyzing and interpreting the results.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN86156614
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-10-17
PMCID: PMC2912776  PMID: 20598123
14.  The cost effectiveness of an early transition from hospital to nursing home for stroke patients: design of a comparative study 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:279.
Background
As the incidence of stroke has increased, its impact on society has increased accordingly, while it continues to have a major impact on the individual. New strategies to further improve the quality, efficiency and logistics of stroke services are necessary. Early discharge from hospital to a nursing home with an adequate rehabilitation programme could help to optimise integrated care for stroke patients.
The objective is to describe the design of a non-randomised comparative study evaluating early admission to a nursing home, with multidisciplinary assessment, for stroke patients. The study is comprised of an effect evaluation, an economic evaluation and a process evaluation.
Methods/design
The design involves a non-randomised comparative trial for two groups. Participants are followed for 6 months from the time of stroke. The intervention consists of a redesigned care pathway for stroke patients. In this care pathway, patients are discharged from hospital to a nursing home within 5 days, in comparison with 12 days in the usual situation. In the nursing home a structured assessment takes place, aimed at planning adequate rehabilitation. People in the control group receive the usual care. The main outcome measures of the effect evaluation are quality of life and daily functioning. In addition, an economic evaluation will be performed from a societal perspective. A process evaluation will be carried out to evaluate the feasibility of the intervention as well as the experiences and opinions of patients and professionals.
Discussion
The results of this study will provide information about the cost effectiveness of the intervention and its effects on clinical outcomes and quality of life. Relevant strengths and weaknesses of the study are addressed in this article.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trails ISRCTN58135104
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-279
PMCID: PMC2888743  PMID: 20504313
15.  End-of-life care in a COPD patient awaiting lung transplantation: a case report 
COPD is nowadays the main indication for lung transplantation. In appropriately selected patients with end stage COPD, lung transplantation may improve quality of life and prognosis of survival. However, patients with end stage COPD may die while waiting for lung transplantation. Palliative care is important to address the needs of patients with end stage COPD. This case report shows that in a patient with end stage COPD listed for lung transplantation offering palliative care and curative-restorative care concurrently may be problematic. If the requirements to remain a transplantation candidate need to be met, the possibilities for palliative care may be limited. Discussing the possibilities of palliative care and the patient's treatment preferences is necessary to prevent that end-of-life care needs of COPD patients dying while listed for lung transplantation are not optimally addressed. The patient's end-of-life care preferences may ask for a clear distinction between the period in which palliative and curative-restorative care are offered concurrently and the end-of-life care period. This may be necessary to allow a patient to spend the last stage of life according to his or her wishes, even when this implicates that lung transplantation is not possible anymore and the patient will die because of end stage COPD.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-9-6
PMCID: PMC2873495  PMID: 20426832
16.  The diagnostic suitability of a xerostomia questionnaire and the association between xerostomia, hyposalivation and medication use in a group of nursing home residents 
Clinical Oral Investigations  2010;15(2):185-192.
The study objective was to explore the diagnostic suitability of the Xerostomia Inventory and the association between xerostomia, hyposalivation and medication use in a group of nursing home residents. A cross-sectional study was carried out in 50 physically impaired nursing home residents (20 men) with a mean age of 78.1 years (range, 53–98) in The Netherlands. The Xerostomia Inventory-Dutch version was completed for all residents and the data were subjected to exploratory factor analysis to determine the diagnostic suitability. Residents’ data on xerostomia, whole saliva secretion rates and hyposalivation-related medications used were collected and statistically analyzed. The diagnostic suitability of the Xerostomia Inventory-Dutch version appeared restricted. The prevalence of xerostomia was 52%, without gender and age difference. The prevalence of hyposalivation was 24% for resting, 60% for chewing-stimulated and 18% for acid-stimulated whole saliva. All whole saliva secretion rates were significantly lower in women than in men and in older than in younger residents. Forty-four percent of all medications used were hyposalivation-related and women used significantly more medications than men. Xerostomia was significantly negatively correlated with the resting whole saliva secretion rate. The number of hyposalivation-related medications used was not significantly correlated with the various whole saliva secretion rates. In nursing home residents, xerostomia, hyposalivation and using hyposalivation-related medications seem common and partially associated features.
doi:10.1007/s00784-010-0382-1
PMCID: PMC3056013  PMID: 20165967
Xerostomia; Hyposalivation; Medication; Nursing home; Xerostomia Inventory
17.  Self-perceived symptoms and care needs of patients with severe to very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure or chronic renal failure and its consequences for their closest relatives: the research protocol 
Background
Recent research shows that the prevalence of patients with very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic renal failure (CRF) continues to rise over the next years. Scientific studies concerning self-perceived symptoms and care needs in patients with severe to very severe COPD, CHF and CRF are scarce.
Consequently, it will be difficult to develop an optimal patient-centred palliative care program for patients with end-stage COPD, CHF or CRF. The present study has been designed to assess the symptoms, care needs, end-of-life care treatment preferences and communication needs of patients with severe to very severe COPD, CHF or CRF. Additionally, family distress and care giving burden of relatives of these patients will be assessed.
Methods/design
A cross-sectional comparative and prospective longitudinal study in patients with end-stage COPD, CHF or CRF has been designed. Patients will be recruited by their treating physician specialist. Patients and their closest relatives will be visited at baseline and every 4 months after baseline for a period of 12 months. The following outcomes will be assessed during home visits: self-perceived symptoms and care needs; daily physical functioning; general health status; end-of-life care treatment preferences; end-of-life care communication and care-giver burden of family caregivers. Additionally, end-of-life care communication and prognosis of survival will be assessed with the physician primarily responsible for the management of the chronic organ failure. Finally, if patients decease during the study period, the baseline preferences with regard to life-sustaining treatments will be compared with the real end-of-life care.
Discussion
To date, the symptoms, care needs, caregiver burden, end-of-life care treatment preferences and communication needs of patients with very severe COPD, CHF or CRF remain unknown. The present study will increase the knowledge about the self-perceived symptoms, care-needs, caregiver burden, end-of-life care treatment preferences and communication needs from the views of patients, their loved ones and their treating physician. This knowledge is necessary to optimize palliative care for patients with COPD, CHF or CRF. Here, the design of the present study has been described. A preliminary analysis of the possible strengths, weaknesses and clinical consequences is outlined.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-7-5
PMCID: PMC2391145  PMID: 18460203
18.  Applying operations management in client-oriented and cost-efficient provision of care, welfare and housing services 
Purpose
In all Western countries, ageing populations cause the demand for elderly care services to increase dramatically. In addition, elderly clients are getting more demanding about the services they require to fulfil their widely varying and multiple needs. Besides, cost reductions have been the focus of governmental policies and organisational practices for many years. Health care providers increasingly see operations management as a promising approach to align both client-orientation and cost-efficiency in their day-to-day practices.
Theory
The paper starts from operations management literature on front office—back office design and modular production. Organisations have several options for deciding which activities need to be performed by FO, BO, or the client himself, and in deciding which employees need to perform these activities. By applying modular production, organisations can differentiate care and related services to a high degree without major cost increases.
Method
A literature review will be presented leading to a theoretical framework. This formed the basis for explorative case studies in the elderly care sector.
Results and conclusions
It will be argued how insights provided with the framework may enhance a client-orientation in integrated care delivery without major cost increases. Although case studies need to be interpreted with caution, interesting implications for organisational structures and inter-organisational cooperation can be seen. We will discuss how combined supply of care services can be made transparent to enhance choice options in service products, and what is required at the level of professionals for providing care and service packages based on client demand.
PMCID: PMC2430292
care for the elderly; operations management; literature study
19.  Effects of mental practice embedded in daily therapy compared to therapy as usual in adult stroke patients in Dutch nursing homes: design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:34.
Background
Mental practice as an additional cognitive therapy is getting increased attention in stroke rehabilitation. A systematic review shows some evidence that several techniques in which movements are rehearsed mentally might be effective but not enough to be certain. This trial investigates whether mental practice can contribute to a quicker and/or better recovery of stroke in two Dutch nursing homes. The objective is to investigate the therapeutic potential of mental practice embedded in daily therapy to improve individually chosen daily activities of adult stroke patients compared to therapy as usual. In addition, we will investigate prognostic variables and feasibility (process evaluation).
Methods
A randomised, controlled, observer masked prospective trial will be conducted with adult stroke patients in the (sub)acute phase of stroke recovery. Over a six weeks intervention period the control group will receive multi professional therapy as usual. Patients in the experimental group will be instructed how to perform mental practice, and will receive care as usual in which mental practice is embedded in physical, occupation and speech therapy sessions. Outcome will be assessed at six weeks and six months. The primary outcome measure is the patient-perceived effect on performance of daily activities as assessed by an 11-point Likert Scale. Secondary outcomes are: Motricity Index, Nine Hole Peg Test, Barthel Index, Timed up and Go, 10 metres walking test, Rivermead Mobility Index. A sample size of the patients group and all therapists will be interviewed on their opinion of the experimental program to assess feasibility. All patients are asked to keep a log to determine unguided training intensity.
Discussion
Advantages and disadvantages of several aspects of the chosen design are discussed.
Trial registration
ISRCTN27582267
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-34
PMCID: PMC2169252  PMID: 17937798
20.  The development of a multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool for demented nursing home patients in the Netherlands 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:74.
Background
Demented nursing home patients are at high risk for falls. Falls and associated injuries can have a considerable influence on the autonomy and quality of life of patients. The prevention of falls among demented patients is therefore an important issue. In order to intervene in an efficient way in this group of patients, it is important to systematically evaluate the fall risk profile of each individual patient so that for each patient tailor-made preventive measures can be taken. Therefore, the objective of the present study is to develop a feasible and evidence based multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool to be used for tailoring preventive interventions to the needs of individual demented patients.
Methods
To develop this multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool we have chosen to combine scientific evidence on the one hand and experts' opinions on the other hand. Firstly, relevant risk factors for falling in elderly persons were gathered from the literature. Secondly, a group of Dutch experts in the field of falls and fall prevention in the elderly were consulted to judge the suitability of these risk factors for use in a multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool for demented nursing home patients. Thirdly, in order to generate a compact list of the most relevant risk factors for falling in demented elderly, all risk factors had to fulfill a set of criteria indicating their relevance for this specific target population. Lastly the final list of risk factors resulting from the above mentioned procedure was presented to the expert group. The members were also asked to give their opinion about the practical use of the tool.
Results
The multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool we developed includes the following items: previous falls, use of medication, locomotor functions, and (correct) choice and use of assistive and protective devices. The tool is developed for the multidisciplinary teams of the nursing homes.
Conclusion
This evidence and practice based multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool targets the preventive interventions aimed to prevent falls and their negative consequences in demented nursing home patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-74
PMCID: PMC1479328  PMID: 16551348

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