Meddling relatives harm end-of-life care

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Relatives of dying residents make it harder to provide high-quality end-of-life care, according to a majority of long-term care professionals surveyed.

Investigators based at universities in Canada and France received more than 600 responses to a survey distributed to workers in five long-term care facilities in Quebec. The questionnaire covered topics related to end-of-life care.

A large percentage of employees in long-term care agreed with the statement “family members tend to interfere in the care of residents at the end of life,” the researchers found. About 50% of respondents said they “somewhat agree” with that statement, and 22% said they “strongly agree.”

Researchers called the findings “unexpected.” Their work was published in the March issue of JAMDA. Investigators did follow-up interviews with managers and specialized clinical care advisors.

Residents' relatives sometimes exhibit “problematic behaviors” and create “dysfunctional situations” that become increasingly troubling as dying residents develop multiple and complex issues, according to the follow-up interviews.