Family Carers’ Experiences of Goals of Care Conversations in Acute Hospital Settings

Publication Name

Journal of Applied Gerontology


End-of-life Goals of Care (GoC) discussions aim to support care that is consistent with patients’ preferences and values. This study uses an exploratory qualitative design drawing upon a social constructivist epistemology to examine family carers’ perspectives on GoC within acute Australian hospital settings. Twenty-five family carers of aging inpatients were recruited from six Australian hospitals to participate in recorded, semi-structured interviews. Data were transcribed and analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Three main themes were developed. Theme 1 explored carers’ experiences of GoC discussions—identifying varying levels of preparedness and carers' hopes for open, two-way discussions initiated by empathic Health Care Professionals (HCPs). Theme 2 examined carers’ unmet needs for time, space, consistency, and support to make careful decisions. Theme 3 identified carers advocating for patients' needs when they could not do it themselves. Preparing carers and normalizing GoC discussions relating to end-of-life care maximizes benefits for patients, carers, and HCPs involved.

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