Aims and objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the phenomenon of Advance Care Planning and the use of Advance Care Directives in residential aged care facilities in Australia. The objectives were to: investigate the implementation process of Advance Care Planning and the use of Advance Care Directives; investigate the outcomes of Advance Care Planning and experiences of people involved in Advance Care Planning and Advance Care Directives, including residents, families and nursing staff.
Background: Benefits of Advance Care Planning for older residents are considerable given their degenerative health-breakdown and minimal chance of recovery. To date, the use of Advance Care Planning and Advance Care Directives is limited and models of service delivery and processes are needed to enhance best practice with Advance Care Planning and positive outcomes for older Australians.
Design: Case study.
Methods: The study conducted using multiple sources of evidence to enrich understanding of the phenomenon of Advance Care Planning. The researcher engaged in data collection over six months involving participant observation, field notes, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. The findings contribute to the limited knowledge of options currently available to older adults and their families in their decision-making about end-of-life care options. PERMISSION TO CONDUCT THE STUDY: Prior to commencement of the data collection, ethics clearances from the University of Newcastle and the regional Area Health Service were achieved. Permission to access the residential aged care facilities to undertake the study was obtained from the relevant residential aged care facility ethics committees or designated authorities. The researcher undertook several strategies to ensure all the ethical principles were considered and adhered to while conducting the project.
Results: The research identified the components and factors involved in the Advance Care Planning process and in attaining desired outcomes. The conceptual framework developed elaborates how Advance Care Planning should be implemented and what may constitute successful implementation of Advance Care Planning in residential aged care facilities. The four main elements (input, throughput, output, feedback), and 20 sub-elements were requisites for nurses to initiate and implement the Advance Care Planning.
Conclusion: The essential components for end-of-life care are identified in the implementation processes of Advance Care Planning in residential aged care facilities. The study contributes to greater awareness of the processes needed for 'dying well' and highlights the need to explore experiences of 'successful dying' and the way nurses contribute to these events.
Relevance to clinical practice: The case study identified four determinative requisites for successful implementation of Advance Care Planning in aged care facilities: the expert nurse, discussion, education and involvement of a multidisciplinary team. Nurses should take these factors into account and use person-centred approach in formalised processes to encourage participation in plans for end-of-life care.