Barriers to staff involvement in end-of-life decision-making for long-term care residents with dementia

Although providing direct care to residents with dementia, long-term care (LTC) home staff of registered nurses’, registered practical nurses’, and personal support workers’ involvement in end-of-life decision-making is rarely acknowledged. The purpose of this study was to examine barriers and facilitators to LTC home staff involvement in end-of-life decision-making for people with advanced dementia. We report on the barriers to staff involvement in decision-making. Using an interpretive descriptive design, four major barriers to staff involvement in decision-making were identified: (a) the predominance of a biomedical model of care; (b) a varied understanding of a palliative approach; (c) challenging relationships with families; and (d) a discomfort with discussing death. Findings suggest that the predominant biomedical model in LTC homes, while important, must be imbued with a philosophy that emphasizes relationships among residents with dementia, family and staff.

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