Palliative and End-of-Life Care for People Living with Motor Neurone Disease: Ongoing Challenges and Necessity for Shifting Directions

Vivek C. Velaga, Angus Cook, Kirsten Auret, Tom Jenkins, Geoff Thomas, Samar M. Aoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although the progressive clinical trajectory of motor neurone disease (MND) is widely understood, multiple challenges remain preventing optimal end-of-life care for this population with unique needs from the patient, carer and service provider perspectives. This paper reports on the experiences, gaps in service and unmet needs of MND patients and family carers and explores public health palliative care approaches that would facilitate coordinated and integrated care to respond to their changing needs. This is a qualitative study of responses to questions in an online consumer survey (353 respondents) in Western Australia (2020), focusing on a subset of 29 current and bereaved carers of people with MND who have used health services in the last five years. The analysis identified themes, highlighting the insufficient integration of services across health and social care; poor and unequal access to coordinated palliative care; significant gaps in the knowledge base of the workforce and a failure to meet the consumer expectations of person-centred care. For palliative care to be accessible to those living with MND and other under-served conditions, there needs to be a shift to more comprehensive, inclusive and sustainable options, such as the public health approach to palliative/end-of-life care that engages the assets of local communities in partnership with health services, one example being the “Compassionate Communities Connectors” model of care. Further considerations include advocacy for policy changes, fostering partnerships and developing indicators for evaluating the impact of the proposed models of care. The end result is not only better care but substantial savings for the health system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number920
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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