Open Access Research article

A qualitative study examining the sustainability of shared care in the delivery of palliative care services in the community

Lily DeMiglio and Allison M Williams*

  • * Corresponding author: Allison M Williams awill@mcmaster.ca

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada

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BMC Palliative Care 2013, 12:32  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-12-32

Published: 29 August 2013

Abstract

Background

This paper focuses on the sustainability of existing palliative care teams that provide home-based care in a shared care model. For the purposes of this study, following Evashwick and Ory (2003), sustainability is understood and approached as the ability to continue the program over time. Understanding factors that influence the sustainability of teams and ways to mitigate these factors is paramount to improving the longevity and quality of service delivery models of this kind.

Methods

Using qualitative data collected in interviews, the aim of this study is twofold: (1) to explore the factors that affect the sustainability of the teams at three different scales, and; (2) based on the results of this study, to propose a set of recommendations that will contribute to the sustainability of PC teams.

Results

Sustainability was conceptualized from two angles: internal and external. An overview of external sustainability was provided and the merging of data from all participant groups showed that the sustainability of teams was largely dependent on actors and organizations at the local (community), regional (Local Health Integration Network or LHIN) and provincial scales. The three scales are not self-contained or singular entities but rather are connected. Integration and collaboration within and between scales is necessary, as community capacity will inevitably reach its threshold without support of the province, which provides funding to the LHIN. While the community continues to advocate for the teams, in the long-term, they will need additional supports from the LHIN and province. The province has the authority and capacity to engrain its support for teams through a formal strategy. The recommendations are presented based on scale to better illustrate how actors and organizations could move forward.

Conclusions

This study may inform program and policy specific to strategic ways to improve the provision of team-based palliative home care using a shared care model, while simultaneously providing direction for team-based program delivery and sustainability for other jurisdictions.

Keywords:
Shared care model; Palliative care services; Qualitative research; Scale; Community