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Exploring the experiences of a community palliative care team as services were adapted to meet the demand of the COVID-19 pandemic

02 August 2022
13 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 8

Abstract

During COVID-19, it was critical that services adapted to meet the high demands of the pandemic. This qualitative study explores the experiences of several staff members of the community palliative care team, as they adapted the delivery of their services to such pressures. Semi-structured interviews via a virtual platform were conducted and four themes were identified: service development, communication, inter-professional relationships and support mechanisms. The participants supported the change in service delivery and use of technology to triage patients. The participants also reported improved collaboration and patient care-coordination, and enhanced support mechanisms used by the team helped sustain resilience and wellbeing. Although challenging, the team embraced the changes and described improved collaboration and coordination of patient care.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020 (WHO, 2020). This led to increased demands on healthcare services; significant changes were made within these services to manage the impact of prioritising pressures in the clinical setting, alongside adapting practices to meet service needs (Chidiac et al, 2020).

The pandemic's impact on primary care raised concerns, particularly for the 2-week cancer referral pathway. This was offset by increased emergency service demand alongside emerging evidence of delayed cancer diagnosis with related mortality (Flynn et al, 2020; Maringe et al, 2020). Predictions were made, highlighting the potential increased impact on palliative care services, as changes on survival and prognosis rates became evident with reduced treatment options and in some dire cases, no longer an option (Maringe et al, 2020).

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