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BMC Palliat Care ; 21(1): 159, 2022 Sep 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2228934


BACKGROUND: After-hours support from hospice providers is instrumental to patients with serious illness who choose to remain at home, particularly at end of life. Utilisation of out-of-hours support has been much characterised in terms of frequency and nature of calls, but more needs to be known to inform service customisation and resource allocation to optimise care. To this end, we stratify reasons for using the after-hours helpline according to time sensitivity, and to explore disease and person factors associated with urgent calls. METHOD: Electronic medical records for incoming calls from external parties outside workhours within a large home hospice in Singapore were analysed inductively, to identify patterns and associations along study objectives. Individual code books for caller type and call reasons were created and tested in vivo, and later administered to extracted data. Patients that accessed the helpline were tracked for different outcomes, including hospital admissions and on-call home visits. Logistic regression modelling was performed to categorise call reasons by urgency and to identify disease and person factors associated with time sensitive calls. RESULTS: More than 5,000 calls to the helpline were made over a two-year period (2019-2020), predominantly by family caregivers (88.4%). These were in relation to 2,303 unique patients (38.9% of total patients served). After-hours calls were made an average of 2.3 times by patients across various lengths of service. Only 11.9% of calls were deemed time sensitive or urgent, requiring home visits by on-call staff (4%) or resulting in admission to hospital (7.9%). The majority were managed by primary care teams on the next workday (65.1%) and the remainder sorted during the after-hours call itself (22.3%). Call reasons or presenting issues were classified into two groups according to urgency. Calls in the year 2020, from the younger patient, preferred place of death outside the home, and caller types other than patient or healthcare worker were significantly associated with urgent calls. CONCLUSION: Deeper characterisation of after-hours calls offers possibilities: service redesign for optimal resourcing and customised training for better care. Ultimately, planners, providers, and patients all stand to benefit.

Hospice Care , Hospices , House Calls , Humans , Singapore , Telephone