Notre Dame and St John of God Murdoch teams up in research on difficult palliative care talk


Nursing Research chair Leanne Monterosso, St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Dr Gail Ross-Adjie and Alexis Cranfield.
Nursing Research chair Leanne Monterosso, St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Dr Gail Ross-Adjie and Alexis Cranfield.

FAMILIES of people in palliative care who fail to discuss end of life wishes experience unnecessary distress, according to new research by the University of Notre Dame and St John of God Hospital Murdoch.

Hospitals are obliged to provide medical intervention in the case of a deteriorating patient unless they have very clearly made their wishes to the contrary known, nurse researcher Gail Ross-Adjie said.

“Our study found there is an opportunity for us to encourage people to discuss and record their end of life care and wishes with their family, GP and treating doctors,” she said.

The patient-focussed report also found staff had concerns about end of life communication.

The study found the hospital overstated cancer diagnosis as a main cause of death, when dementia and Alzheimers disease were the third most common causes of death in Australia and were areas where palliative care had much to offer.

The research was replicated at Sir Charles Gairdner’s Emergency Department and St John Ambulance with similar results.

“We are hoping to embark on a program in which we send main hospital nursing staff to the hospice for a month at a time to gain practical skills in the care of patients who require palliative care but are situated in the main hospital,” Dr Ross-Adjie said.

The inaugural report, conducted between 2011 and 2015, was launched at a recent research symposium.

Research completed to date included understanding the perceptions and needs of caregivers regarding palliative care provision.

The Centre has also researched the incidence, risk factors and healthcare cost of falls after major joint replacement surgery and been involved in a collaborative study on women’s wellness after cancer care.

Dr Ross-Adje said one in three people over 65 has a fall in any given year and did not know if this figure was higher or lower after total hip and total knee replacement.

Prospective new studies for 2016 at the Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research include survivorship after cancer care and the identification of patients with palliative care needs in emergency departments.

“This Centre is the only one of its kind in the private health care sector in Western Australia of which the University is proud to be associated,” Notre Dame School of Nursing and Midwifery dean Professor Elaine Pavlos said.