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Anne Arber, Sara Faithfull, Marek Plaskota, Caroline Lucas, Kay de Vries
International Journal of Palliative Nursing, Vol. 16, Iss. 1, 01 Feb 2010, pp 24 - 30

Aim: To investigate the symptom experience, access to supportive care services and rehabilitation of patients with a primary malignant brain tumour (PMBT) and their carers. Methods: A case review of 70 patients with a diagnosis of PMBT who received palliative care in five specialist palliative care units between July 2005 and June 2006. The review examined patients' symptom experience, care issues, access to rehabilitation and access to supportive care services. Results: The two most significant issues experienced by patients and identified in the case review were hemiparesis (17%) and cognitive problems (16%). There were a number of care problems concerning safety related to mobility and falls (9%). Symptoms related to fatigue and tiredness were reported infrequently. There was an absence of information relating to the needs of informal carers; however, 18% of carers accessed bereavement counselling services following the death of the person they cared for. Conclusion: The needs of carers were not found to be routinely documented within the case notes. For some patients, referral to specialist palliative care services occur late in the illness trajectory, which means that patients and carers may not be able to access the full range of supportive care services available. Initial assessment of patients should identify the range of support services that both carers and patients are offered; and the uptake and response to services should be documented throughout the illness trajectory.

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