The End of Life Care Strategy for England (2008) set out a policy directive to enable patients to die at home if that was their choice. An important aspect of home care was provided by health care assistants (HCAs) who stayed with the patient for a number of hours and provided support for the family in their caring role. Reviews of the HCA role indicate that they provide nursing, social and emotional support for the patients for whom they are caring (James 1992, Ferguson et al 1998, Clark et al 2000).
However, little research had focused in-depth on the care that the HCAs delivered and very little research had explored the experiences of bereaved family carers of patients who had received such services. This project explored the experiences of bereaved family carers who had received home care services in three different, geographical areas providing different models of care. The results from the study are being used to inform service development so that effective models of care can be provided for patients dying from cancer.
Phase 1 – An overview of each service undertaken through collecting documentary evidence. At each site, a key member of staff joined the project team to assist the researcher in collecting this information and in providing details about the service. Up to five key informant interviews were undertaken at each site with service managers, district nurses and HCAs to complete the contextual exploration of each area.
Phase 2 – In-depth, qualitative, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 12 to 15 bereaved carers from each site.
The research team was:
Dr Dan Munday (Principal Investigator)
Prof Christine Ingleton (University of Sheffield)
Ms Melanie Lovatt (University of Sheffield)
Dr Bill Noble (University of Sheffield)
Ms Liz Pitt (Coventry Primary Care Trust - Community Health Services)