Ambitions for palliative and end of life care: mapping examples of use of the framework across England

Borgstrom, Erica; Jordan, Joanne and Henry, Claire (2023). Ambitions for palliative and end of life care: mapping examples of use of the framework across England. BMC Palliative Care, 22, article no. 83.



Background: Since 2015, the Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care: a national framework for local action has provided guidance for care within England and beyond. Relaunched in 2021, the Framework sets out six Ambitions which, collectively, provide a vision to improve how death, dying and bereavement are experienced and managed. However, to date, there has been no central evaluation of how the Framework and its Ambitions have been implemented within service development and provision. To address this evidence gap, we investigated understanding and use of the Framework.

Methods: An online questionnaire survey was conducted to identify where the Framework has been used; examples of how it has been used; which Ambitions are being addressed; which foundations are being used; understanding of the utility of the Framework; and understanding of the opportunities and challenges involved in its use. The survey was open between 30 November 2021–31 January 2022, promoted via email, social media, professional newsletter and snowball sampling. Survey responses were analysed both descriptively, using frequency and cross-tabulations, and exploratively, using content and thematic analysis.

Results: 45 respondents submitted data; 86% were from England. Findings indicate that the Framework is particularly relevant to service commissioning and development across wider palliative and end of life care, with most respondents reporting a focus on Ambition 1 (Each person is seen as an individual) and Ambition 3 (Maximising comfort and wellbeing). Ambition 6 (Each community is prepared to help) was least likely to be prioritised, despite people welcoming the focus on community in national guidance. Of the Framework foundations, ‘Education and training’ was seen as most necessary to develop and/or sustain reported services. The provision of a shared language and collaborative work across sectors and partners were also deemed important. However, there is some indication that the Framework must give more prioritisation to carer and/or bereavement support, have greater scope to enhance shared practice and mutual learning, and be more easily accessible to non-NHS partners.

Conclusions: The survey generated valuable summary level evidence on uptake of the Framework across England, offering important insights into current and past work, the factors impacting on this work and the implications for future development of the Framework. Our findings suggest considerable positive potential of the Framework to generate local action as intended, although difficulties remain concerning the mechanisms and resources necessary to enact this action. They also offer a valuable steer for research to further understand the issues raised, as well as scope for additional policy and implementation activity.

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