Advance directives or living wills- some reflections from general practitioners and frail care coordinators in a small town in KwaZulu Natal

Bull, A. P. A. (2012-12)

Thesis (MMed)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.


Background: - Living wills have long been associated with end-of- life care. This study explored the promotion and use of living wills amongst general practitioners and frail care nursing coordinators directly involved in the care of the elderly in Howick, Kwa-Zulu Natal. The study also explored their views regarding the proforma living will disseminated by the Living Will Society. Participants: - Seven general practitioners and three frail care nursing coordinators, making ten in total. Design: - Qualitative in-depth interviews and analysis, using the Framework method. Results:- Both doctors and nursing staff understood the concept of living wills and acknowledged their varied benefits to patient, family and staff. They were concerned about the lack of legal status. They felt that the proforma document from the Living Will Society was simple and clear. Despite identifying the low level of use of living wills, they felt that third party organisations and individuals should promote living wills Conclusion: - GPs and frail care nurse coordinators were knowledgeable of living wills in general and the Living Will Society proforma document in particular. They valued the contribution that living wills can make in the care of the elderly, benefitting patients, their families, health care workers and even the health system. They also valued the proforma living will document from the Living Will Society for its clarity and simplicity. However, both GPs and frail care nursing coordinators viewed the living will process as patient- driven and their main role was as custodians and not advocates of the living will.

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