UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Nurse-led navigation to provide early palliative care in rural areas: a pilot study Pesut, Barbara; Hooper, Brenda; Jacobsen, Marnie; Nielsen, Barbara; Falk, Miranda; O ‘Connor, Brian P


Background: Few services are available to support rural older adults living at home with advancing chronic illness. The objective of this project was to pilot a nurse-led navigation service to provide early palliative support for rural older adults and their families living at home with advancing chronic illness. Methods: Twenty-five older adults and 11 family members living with advancing chronic illness received bi-weekly home visits by a nurse navigator over a 2-year period. Navigation services included symptom management, education, advance care planning, advocacy, mobilization of resources, and psychosocial support. The nurse navigator collected longitudinal data on older adult and family needs, and older adult quality of life and healthcare utilization. Results: Satisfaction with the service was high. There was no attrition over the 2-year period except through death, and few cancelled visits, indicating a high degree of acceptability of the intervention. The navigator addressed complex, multi-faceted needs through connecting health, social, and informal community resources. Participants who indicated a preferred place of death were able to die in that preferred place (n = 7). Emergency room use by participants was minimal and largely unpreventable by the nurse navigator. Longitudinal health-related quality of life scores for many participants were poor, lending further support to the need for more focused attention to this upstream palliative population. Conclusions: Using a nurse navigator to facilitate early palliative care for rural older adults living with advanced chronic illness is a promising innovation for meeting the needs of this population. Further research is required to evaluate outcomes on a larger scale.

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