Realizing a palliative approach in dementia care: Strategies to facilitate aged care staff engagement in evidence-based practice

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Background: There is growing evidence that a palliative approach to care provision for people with dementia in residential aged care facilities improves their quality of life and provides support for family members. Despite the development of Guidelines for a Palliative Approach in Residential Aged Care (hereafter the Guidelines), there is limited evidence that these have been adopted. To date, little research has been undertaken to explore processes which could assist aged care staff to develop their practice consistent with the intent of the Guidelines. Methods: This project utilized an action research method, through which staff members from a residential dementia special care unit (SCU) undertook an investigation into their practice to explore how they could develop strategies to support a palliative approach to care provision. A key focus was related to addressing the information needs of family members of residents on the SCU. Results: Aged care staff involved in this project had little understanding of available evidence that could assist them to better support family members, including the existence of the Guidelines. Through their engagement in successive action research cycles, these staff accessed evidence-based resources and developed strategies to address the information needs of family members. Conclusions: When provided with an opportunity to reflect on and critique their practice, aged care staff were better positioned to engage with evidence concerning a palliative approach and to execute change in their practice to improve care provision for family members.

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Journal Article

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