Sinead Cobbe, Kathy Nugent, Shirley Real, Sinead Slattery, Margaret Lynch

International Journal of Palliative Nursing, Vol. 19, Iss. 1, 25 Jan 2013, pp 39 - 45

Aim: To profile a specialised palliative care physiotherapy service to community-dwelling patients. Design: Retrospective audit. Setting: Milford Care Centre, Limerick, Ireland. Participants: Patients referred to hospice-at-home physiotherapy during September 2010-February 2011. Outcome measure: Edmonton Functional Assessment Tool (EFAT-2). Results: 165 patients were referred, of whom 90% had cancer. Nurses referred 120 (73%). Referrals appeared to be increased by the presence of physiotherapists in the nursing bases. No asssessment was conducted for 55 referrals (33%), mainly owing to clinical deterioration. The remaining 110 patients were assessed, with 47 (43%) being contacted within 2 days of referral (mean 4 days, standard deviation 4.2, range 0-21 days). Physical function ranged from 0-18 (median 7, mode 4) on the EFAT-2 scale. The most commonly used treatments were exercises and advice/education. Conclusion: Referrals to the at-home physiotherapy service are heavily dependent on nurses and their understanding of the physiotherapy role. Patients tended to be relatively high functioning and tolerated numerous interventions.

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