The last days of life of nursing home patients with and without dementia assessed with the palliative care outcome scale

Palliat Med. 2005 Jun;19(4):334-42. doi: 10.1191/0269216305pm1018oa.


The aim of this study was to assess the Palliative care Outcome Scale (POS) for terminally ill nursing home (NH) patients in the Netherlands.

Methods: A prospective observational study of patients with a life-expectancy of six weeks or less in 16 Dutch NHs. NH staff rated the patient characteristics and measured palliative care with the POS, including items on physical, psychosocial, informational, spiritual and practical aspects.

Results: POS nonscores (not applicable; unknown) were mainly found in the psychosocial and spiritual domains, particularly in patients with dementia. Mean scores for non-demented patients and patients with dementia were favourable for the majority of the POS items.

Conclusion: According to the NH staff, fairly good quality care was provided, but the psychosocial and spiritual aspects of care need to be addressed more in the last days of the dying NH patient's life. The results indicate that the POS is an appropriate instrument to assess not only cancer patients, but also non-cancer and (moderately) severely demented patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Nursing Homes
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / standards*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Terminal Care / standards*
  • Terminally Ill / psychology