Families who are caring for a relative who is seriously ill and dying at home need more support from healthcare professionals in order to help manage their medication, a study has found.
The findings of the study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and led by Professor Kristian Pollock from the University of Nottingham, are published in Palliative Medicine.
When somebody is seriously ill and dying at home, managing their medications can be a difficult and complex task. This is made more difficult given that the care often needs to be given when patients and their families are tired and emotional.
Family members are often assumed to be willing and able to support patients with their medication. However, little is known about what these tasks involve or how families cope with them.
In this study, a team of experts explored the views of patients and families managing medications in their homes. The study reports the outcomes of 21 interviews with bereaved family caregivers and 43 interviews with patients and current family caregivers.
The research found:
The findings of the research have implications for practice and policy:
Dr Eleanor Wilson, from the Nottingham Centre for the Advancement of Palliative and End of Life Care (NCARE) in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, worked on the study.
She said: ‘Our findings show that managing medications at the end of life can be considerable ‘work’.
‘Including practical and physical work of organising, ordering and collecting medications, the emotional work of supporting someone to take their medication and the knowledge-based work of understanding what medications are for, when they should be taken and what side effects they may cause.
‘This medicines ‘work’ often needs to be done when patients and families are tired, upset and under pressure, so health professionals need to be alert to how much they are asking families to do at this time.’
The Department for Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.
Photo Credit – National Cancer Institute