The last years of a serious illness can be expensive and stressful, not only for the person with the illness, but also family and friends. This situation can only escalate. In the next 15 years, U.S. communities will care for the same number of people over 65 as they have over the past 90 years combined.
“The need for innovative, upstream palliative care models that can be deployed wide scale and sustainably is critical,” says Heather Britt, MPH, PhD, director of the Division of Applied Research at Allina Health. Through a grant from the Robina Foundation, Allina Health is studying such a model and implementing LifeCourse in clinics and health systems.
Researchers will present four posters that reflect findings from LifeCourse at the Center to Advance Palliative Care National Seminar October 27-29 in Orlando, Fla.
Sandra E. Schellinger, MSN NP-C, will present “Speaking from the Heart: Heart Failure Goals Beyond Advance Care Planning (ACP).” Schellinger found that people’s goals change over time and increasingly take on non-medical components. Patient self-defined goals are broader than treatment goals typically addressed with advance care planning. This requires ongoing discussions that include the non-medical aspects of disease specific and life-sustaining treatments.
Paige Bingham, MBA will present “LifeCourse—Design to Implementation in a Health System” to show how Allina Health was inspired by positive research results to expand LifeCourse for the most seriously ill across the health system. Bingham will summarize the successes and challenges of integrating research into practice.
Heather Britt, MPH, PhD will present “Health Care Utilization Outcomes for LifeCourse Patients” that suggest when a whole-person approach to care is used, and patients’ preferences are known, there is a beneficial impact on health care utilization in late-life. The research team tested whether participation in LifeCourse resulted in decreased utilization of emergency department (ED) visits, inpatient days, and intensive care unit (ICU) stays.
Britt will also be presenting “Improving Quality of Life for Late Life Patients: LifeCourse Findings,” where she uses multiple analyses to show that LifeCourse intervention improves quality of life. She says participants actively seek out ways to maintain quality of life and exhibit resilience in the face of decline.
LifeCourse has enrolled over 900 participants who are or were in the last years of serious illnesses. Half of them received or are receiving “the usual” care. The other half were cared for by a lay health care worker, delivering a whole person approach to care that focused on what matters most to the individual and there family. More information about LifeCourse is available at allinahealth.org/LifeCourse/.