After the Liverpool Care Pathway--development of heuristics to guide end of life care for people with dementia: protocol of the ALCP study

BMJ Open. 2015 Sep 2;5(9):e008832. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008832.


Introduction: End of life care guidance for people with dementia is lacking and this has been made more problematic in England with the removal of one of the main end of life care guidelines which offered some structure, the Liverpool Care Pathway. This guidance gap may be eased with the development of heuristics (rules of thumb) which offer a fast and frugal form of decision-making.

Objective: To develop a toolkit of heuristics (rules of thumb) for practitioners to use when caring for people with dementia at the end of life.

Method and analysis: A mixed-method study using a co-design approach to develop heuristics in three phases. In phase 1, we will conduct at least six focus groups with family carers, health and social care practitioners from both hospital and community care services, using the 'think-aloud' method to understand decision-making processes and to develop a set of heuristics. The focus group topic guide will be developed from the findings of a previous study of 46 interviews of family carers about quality end-of-life care for people with dementia and a review of the literature. A multidisciplinary development team of health and social care practitioners will synthesise the findings from the focus groups to devise and refine a toolkit of heuristics. Phase 2 will test the use of heuristics in practice in five sites: one general practice, one community nursing team, one hospital ward and two palliative care teams working in the community. Phase 3 will evaluate and further refine the toolkit of heuristics through group interviews, online questionnaires and semistructured interviews.

Ethics and dissemination: This study has received ethical approval from a local NHS research ethics committee (Rec ref: 15/LO/0156). The findings of this study will be presented in peer-reviewed publications and national and international conferences.

Keywords: PALLIATIVE CARE; decision making; end of life care; heuristic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Decision Making*
  • Dementia* / complications
  • Focus Groups
  • Heuristics*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care*