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Barriers and facilitators to goals of care conversations with Veteran residents of community nursing homes.

Keddem S, Ayele R, Ersek M, Murray A, Griffith M, Morawej S, Kutney-Lee A. Barriers and facilitators to goals of care conversations with Veteran residents of community nursing homes. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2023 Aug 1; 71(8):2539-2548.

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BACKGROUND: Despite evidence that structured goals of care conversations (GoCCs) and documentation of life-sustaining treatment (LST) preferences improve the delivery of goal-concordant care for seriously ill patients, rates of completion remain low among nursing home residents. The Preferences Elicited and Respected for Seriously Ill Veterans through Enhanced Decision-Making (PERSIVED) program aims to improve the consistent documentation of LST preferences among Veterans receiving care in veterans affairs (VA)-paid community nursing homes (CNH); however, the barriers and facilitators of completing and documenting GoCCs in this unique context of care have not been described. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews with key stakeholders of the VA CNH programs located at six VA Medical Centers between July 2021 and July 2022. With a rapid approach to analysis, interview transcripts were reduced into memo templates using the Tailored Implementation for Chronic Disease Checklist and coded and analyzed using qualitative data analysis software. RESULTS: The 40 participants consisted of nurses (n? = 13), social workers (n? = 25), and VA physicians (n? = 2). Most participants felt confident about conducting GoCC; however, several barriers were identified. At the staff level, our results indicated inconsistent completion of GoCC and documentation due to a lack of training, confusion about roles and responsibilities, and challenging communication within the VA as well as with CNH. At the organizational level, there was a lack of standardization across sites for how LST preferences were documented. At the patient level, we found key barriers related to patient and family readiness and issues finding surrogate decision makers. While COVID-19 brought end-of-life issues to the forefront, lockdowns hindered communication about the goals of care. CONCLUSION: Findings from this pre-implementation evaluation revealed multi-level barriers in conducting and documenting GoCCs with Veterans receiving VA-paid CNH care, as well as several facilitators that can be used to inform strategies for improvement.

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