“Saying goodbye all alone with no close support was difficult”: Dying during the COVID-19 pandemic: An online survey among bereaved relatives about end-of-life care for patients with or without SARS-CoV2 infection

BMC HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH | Online – 22 September 2021 – This survey revealed mixed experiences of bereaved relatives in Germany regarding communication with the healthcare teams. About half indicated that the healthcare team had enough time to listen and discuss the patient’s condition and had been provided with enough information. Bereaved relatives’ judgment in this study did differ between doctors and nurses, but data from the U.K. shows that relatives had a greater level of confidence in the nursing staff and that they provided care with more respect and dignity than doctors. This might be due to differences in the healthcare system in the two countries… Three-quarters felt treated empathically by the healthcare team. However … relatives expressed regret about a lack of open, proactive communication accompanied by a deficit of reliable contact persons and information. Studies underpinned the importance for relatives, especially when they are not allowed to physically visit the dying patient, to be provided with clear and precise information about his/her condition. This comprises information regarding symptom management, health decline, and personal aspects of care. In this aspect, the relatives’ needs were not met, not only concerning the amount of information but also the way it was provided. This demonstrates the relevance for healthcare teams to install ways to provide reliable information about the patient and to focus on empathic communication. U.K. patients’ relatives highly valued compassionate care from the healthcare team, allowing early visits before the death of the patient to say goodbye. 

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