Palliative Care in the Spotlight

03/06/2020 | Corona European University Well-Being

Anna Sandgren, Director of the Center for Collaborative Palliative Care at Linnaeus University, on palliative care during the Covid-19 crisis.

Palliative care has been in the spotlight during the last months due to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world. The important role of palliative care has been highlighted and its strengths such as symptom management and communication are now more than ever requested and needed.  

Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life and the well-being of patients and their families when facing problems associated with life-threatening illness, regardless of age and diagnosis. This is done through prevention and relief of suffering and treatment of pain and other problems – physical, psychosocial and existential.

 

The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care

The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care is a unique collaboration between Linnaeus University, Region Kronoberg and the eight municipalities in the county. The Center is partially funded by the Kamprad Family Foundation.

The working areas in the Center are education, clinical development, research and public engagement. Their focus is to design a sustainable palliative care that is co-created by patients, family members, healthcare professionals, and researchers.

The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care is involved in groups at both regional and national levels to improve the palliative care in Sweden. In this challenging Covid-19 pandemic time, the Center participates in different groups to write guidelines, for example, “Advice on general palliative care during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic”.

Education

The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care offers courses and programmes in palliative care at all education levels and specially-designed educations/lectures for various healthcare professional groups. As a member of the National Network of Palliative Care Competence Centers, it collaborates with other centers to integrate palliative care into all programmes for healthcare professionals in Sweden.  

Clinical Development

The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care educates and trains healthcare professionals in palliative care, integrates the palliative care philosophy in different contexts, supports improvement work, and promotes that research and development become a natural part of everyday activities. During the last five years, more than 2,000 healthcare professionals in hospitals, nursing homes and home care have completed the Center’s education in palliative care (consisting of five 2-hour seminars, in groups of 8–10 pers).  

In their Palliative Forum group, which consists of representatives from different caring contexts, the focus in now mainly on issues connected to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center supports healthcare professionals and offers regular meetings to educate, reflect and offer supervision.

Research

The focus of the Center for Collaborative Palliative Care lies mainly on clinical research. Their research is characterized by an ambition to use methods that enable parallel data collection and implementation, so that the results can quickly be of benefit to patients, family members, healthcare professionals, and the organisation. The center is a member of the ‘International Collaborative for Best Care for the Dying Person’ and collaborates with universities and institutes in the USA, UK, and Spain. Different ongoing research projects comprise, for instance, “Serious illness conversation model”, “Metaphors in palliative care”, and “Creating caring spaces development of mealtime interventions in nursing homes”.

Serious illness conversation model – “Kronobergsmodellen”

The aim of this model is to offer the patient and family members a possibility to plan, prepare and make priorities, which are important and meaningful for them while living with serious illness. The model includes training for physicians, a conversation guide, identification of patients in need of conversation, conversations with patients and families, documentation in medical records and follow-up with a nurse after the conversation. The model has been implemented at 20 units and so far has included more than 120 physicians. The model will now be expanded to include and emphasize the role of the nurses and offer them training in serious illness conversations, etc.

he Covid-19 pandemic has led to challenges in the communication with patients and family members, due to the restrictions and all the protective equipment that the professionals have to wear. While end-of-life conversations can be experienced as difficult already under normal circumstances, raising these sensitive and distressing topics is often experienced as even more challenging under the current pandemic situation.

Metaphors in palliative care

The aim of this project is to strengthen the scientific foundation for the use of metaphors in palliative care, thereby contributing to development of praxis in Sweden. Different studies are currently planned to implement the results into the clinical practice.

The use of metaphors in the Covid-19 pandemic is also of interest to study. In Swedish, the pandemic is often metaphorically conceptualized as a storm that has to be endured until it abates, while in many other languages, it is conceptualized as an enemy that has to be fought and overcome as in a battle.

Creating caring spaces – development of mealtime interventions in nursing homes

The aim of this project is to develop interventions that target and expand caring qualities of mealtime environments for people living with dementia, which will also have an impact on their well-being. The Five Aspect Meal Model (FAMM) will be used as well as participation action research, collaboration with residents, their family members, and healthcare professionals.

Public Engagement

The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care aims to create arenas for spreading knowledge, dialogue and meetings between people in order to put focus on areas that relate to palliative care. For that sake it offers various activities, such as a café with evening lectures on different topics.

 

Early Integrated Palliative Care
The Center for Collaborative Palliative Care is a successful collaboration between the academic and the clinical practice which offers unique opportunities to develop palliative care at different levels. Its members believe that there is an urgent need of integrative palliative care in order to meet the palliative care needs of the patients in the future. The Center will organize the National Conference in Palliative Care in Växjö in March 2021, the theme for the conference being “Early Integrated Palliative Care”.

 

Anna Sandgren, RN, PhD, Associate Professor

Director of the Center for Collaborative Palliative Care

Linnaeus University, Växjö/Kalmar, Sweden

+46 70 313 12 36

anna.sandgren[at]lnu.se

lnu.se/palliativt-centrum