"Respecting our patients' choices": making the organizational decision to participate in voluntary assisted dying provision: findings from semi-structured interviews with a rural community hospice board of management

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Abstract

Background There is limited literature around how palliative care organizations determine the degree to which they will interface with voluntary assisted dying in jurisdictions where it is legal. The aim of this research was to describe the experience of the board of management of an Australian community-based hospice during their decision-making process around whether to support voluntary assisted dying in the facility, prior to the legislation coming into operation. Methods The Board considered this decision over ten meetings in 2020, during which time they received information on the legislation, relevant literature, feedback from workshops which included the community, comment from hospice founders, staff survey results and presentations by clinicians able to discuss the impact of voluntary assisted dying on palliative care services. Members were encouraged to make notes of their own experiences during this time. Following this, semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven of the nine board members. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim and analysed using conventional qualitative content analysis method. Results The board members experienced a sense of journey in reaching an overall decision, which was to allow full participation in voluntary assisted dying provision for inpatients. Themes based on the journey motif included: starting from a personal view; moving to a hospice perspective; exploring if voluntary assisted dying can be part of end-of-life care; awareness and assessment of risks to the Hospice; arriving at a common platform to vote on; factors facilitating a safe decision-making journey; and personal impact of the journey. Conclusions The group highlighted several facilitators of a successful outcome including having adequate time, the availability of useful resources, sound board processes and a trusting culture. The study may provide support to other healthcare organisations as they face similar decisions triggered by legislative change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number161
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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