Article – The role of health care support workers in providing palliative and end of life care in the community: a systematic literature review"

Article – The role of health care support workers in providing palliative and end of life care in the community: a systematic literature review"

Life & Death Matters Post

This week I was thrilled to find this article. Thought you might be interested in the findings.

Article: The role of healthcare support workers in providing palliative and end-of-life care in the community: a systematic literature review. By Herber, Oliver R.; Johnston, Bridget M., published in Health & Social Care in the Community (HEALTH SOC CARE COMMUNITY), 2013 May; 21 (3): 225-35. (40 ref)

Literature review to look at the tasks/roles of Health Care Workers, (AKA PSWs, HSW, CCAs etc.) in providing hospice palliative care in the home setting.

Findings show that the workers provide emotional and social support, assist with personal care, care for the dying, respite care and some housekeeping services. Challenges include: emotional attachment, role ambiguity and inadequate training.

“Support factors such as informal peer grief-support groups, sense of cohesiveness among HCSWs and task orientation enabled HCSWs to overcome these challenges. To conclude, induction and training programs, a defined period of preceptorship, appropriate support, supervision and clearly defined role boundaries may be helpful in reducing the challenges identified in HCSWs’ roles.”

The very things that help with reducing the challenges for the health care workers are similar to those things that reduce stress and compassion fatigue.

I just attended the compassion fatigue conference with Francois Mathieu in Kingston. The leading factors to prevent compassion fatigue were not self care items that we typically talk about…but include:  education to do our job, role clarity, strong social network, and work flexibility.

 The article, supporting what Francois and speakers presented, provides clear guidance for the agencies providing home support services…. Help the PSWs develop strong social support. Strive to develop flexibility in work schedules. Provide education and mentorship so that people feel confident in doing their work. Get clear and provide clarity on the role of the PSW. 

What application does this have for those providing care in the long term care facilities?

What do you do in your agency to support the PSWs with education, opportunity to network, etc..?

I look forward to your ideas.


PS For those who don’t know, Canadian Nurse has an online library and members of CNA can access this article free of charge. 🙂

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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