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Palliative care in the neonatal unit: neonatal nursing staff perceptions of facilitators and barriers in a regional tertiary nursery

Journal title
BMC palliative care
Publication year
2017
Author(s)
Kilcullen, M.; Ireland, S.
Pages
32
Volume
16
Number
1

BACKGROUND: Neonatology has made significant advances in the last 30 years. Despite the advances in treatments, not all neonates survive and a palliative care model is required within the neonatal context. Previous research has focused on the barriers of palliative care provision. A holistic approach to enhancing palliative care provision should include identifying both facilitators and barriers. A strengths-based approach would allow barriers to be addressed while also enhancing facilitators. The current study qualitatively explored perceptions of neonatal nurses about facilitators and barriers to delivery of palliative care and also the impact of the regional location of the unit. METHODS: The study was conducted at the Townsville Hospital, which is the only regional tertiary neonatal unit in Australia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of eight neonatal nurses. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted within a phenomenological framework. RESULTS: Six themes emerged regarding family support and staff factors that were perceived to support the provision of palliative care of a high quality. Staff factors included leadership, clinical knowledge, and morals, values, and beliefs. Family support factors included emotional support, communication, and practices within the unit. Five themes emerged from the data that were perceived to be barriers to providing quality palliative care. Staff perceived education, lack of privacy, isolation, staff characteristics and systemic (policy, and procedure) factors to impact upon palliative care provision. The regional location of the unit also presented unique facilitators and barriers to care. CONCLUSIONS: This study identified and explored facilitators and barriers in the delivery of quality palliative care for neonates in a regional tertiary setting. Themes identified suggested that a strengths-approach, which engages and amplifies facilitating factors while identified barriers are addressed or minimized, would be successful in supporting quality palliative care provision in the neonatal care setting. Study findings will be used to inform clinical education and practice.

Research abstracts