Lack of tools to support advance care planning (ACP) has been identified as a significant barrier to implementing these discussions.
We pilot tested an ACP framework tool for use with persons living with dementia (PLWD) in primary care-based memory clinics and an Adult Day Program; this study describes user and recipient experiences with this framework.
We used a mixed methods approach. Health professionals completed an online survey following pilot testing and PLWD and substitute decision makers (SDM) completed survey immediately following the ACP discussion assessing their satisfaction (5-point scale) with the framework and exploring potential outcomes. Interviews with health professionals, PLWD, and SDM were conducted to gather more in-depth information on their perceptions of the ACP framework/ discussion.
Surveys were completed by 12 health professionals, 13 PLWD, and 16 SDM. While PLWD and SDM were satisfied with the ACP discussion (M = 4.0/5), health professionals were minimally satisfied with the ease of use of the framework (M = 2.0/5), acceptability for patients (M = 2.4/5) and feasibility in practice (M = 1.9/5). Sixteen interviews were completed with 8 health professionals, 1 PLWD, and 7 SDM. While health professionals valued ACP, lack of time and training were identified barriers to framework use. SDM felt better prepared for future decisions and PLWD were put at ease, knowing that their wishes for care were understood.
PLWD and SDM value the opportunity for ACP, and although health professionals identified some concerns with framework administration, they acknowledge the value and importance of ACP. Continuing efforts to refine ACP processes are justified.