Challenges and facilitators in providing effective end of life care in intensive care units
evidence and practice    

Challenges and facilitators in providing effective end of life care in intensive care units

Elena Ivany Staff nurse, Intensive Care, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
Leanne Aitken Professor of critical care, City University of London, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your awareness of the challenges and facilitators in providing effective end of life care to dying patients in the intensive care unit (ICU)

  • To consider your role in enhancing important aspects of end of life care, such as timely communication and patient involvement in decisions about their care

  • To be aware of the emotional challenges involved in caring for dying patients and how effective communication practices can be a source of support for yourself and your colleagues

Caring for patients who are at the end of their lives is an essential aspect of practice in intensive care units (ICUs). While intensive care is one of the fastest-growing healthcare specialties as a result of technological and scientific advances, a significant proportion of patients admitted to an ICU in the UK will not survive their ICU stay. Therefore, it is important to examine ways to enhance practice in this area and the factors that might affect the care provided to patients and their families.

Aim: To identify the challenges and facilitators that members of the ICU multidisciplinary team encounter in the delivery of end of life care to dying patients in ICUs.

Method: A scoping literature review was undertaken. Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Plus with full text, MEDLINE Complete and the EBSCOhost E-Journals Database were searched electronically to identify literature from April 2007 to April 2017, alongside hand-searching. Critical appraisal tools were used and thematic analysis was undertaken to analyse the data and identify themes.

Findings: Ten articles were included in the literature review, which identified various challenges and facilitators in providing effective end of life care in ICUs. The main themes identified were: communication, family involvement, personal factors and the ICU environment.

Conclusion: All of the studies included in the literature review identified several important challenges related to communication, such as time constraints, disagreements among healthcare professionals, and a lack of knowledge among healthcare professionals about how to conduct challenging conversations with patients and families. Future developments in practice should consider the role of effective multidisciplinary team-working in end of life care.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11248

Citation

Ivany E, Aitken L (2019) Challenges and facilitators in providing effective end of life care in intensive care units. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11248

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

elena.ivany@chelwest.nhs.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 15 April 2019

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