RESEARCH: Many patients with dementia who die in hospital still fail to receive sufficiently structured end of life care, a study in the North West has suggested.

Researchers at Manchester Royal Infirmary tracked the experiences of 32 patients with dementia who were admitted from nursing or care homes and died in the hospital over a 12 month period.

They investigated whether the national Gold Standards Framework (GSF) for end of life care was useful in predicting death and whether tools such as advanced care planning or treatment pathways were used.

The authors concluded that while two thirds of the patients demonstrated characteristics of end stage dementia, the GSF was not accurate in predicting death.

They added that an end of life pathway was implemented for 75% of patients, but there was “little evidence” of advance care planning. In addition, 78% of the sample was “subject to burdensome interventions”, the authors said.

“The findings suggest that end stage dementia could be better recognised and questions are raised about appropriate end of life care in patients dying with dementia in the acute setting,” they said.

The findings were presented last Tuesday at the Royal College of Nursing’s international research conference in London.