DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afad246.026 ISSN: 0002-0729

1953 Improving access to community palliative care by raising awareness of services, indications for referral and referral pathways

B Knowles, P Springbett, C Hunt, O Ingram
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • General Medicine



40% of 1056 patients discharged from our acute geriatrics ward met Gold Standards Framework (GSF) Prognostic Indicator Guidance for Recognition of Patients approaching End of Life (EOL). 92% were not referred to Community Palliative Care (CPC) services, meaning patients’ needs were not fully met and other services over-stretched. This project aimed to achieve a 10% reduction in missed referrals.


Highlighting the missed referral rate enabled engagement of key stakeholders including ward and palliative care multidisciplinary teams. This 12-month project comprised four PDSA Cycles: 1. Raising awareness of GSF and CPC through ward-based teaching; 2. Development of posters outlining referral criteria and pathways; 3. Hospital-wide survey of doctors’ understanding of treating patients approaching EOL, with real-time feedback on GSF and CPC; 4. Formal departmental and year-group teaching sessions. The outcome measure was the percentage of patients meeting GSF criteria who were not referred to CPC, as determined by retrospective analysis of discharge letters. Readmission rate was calculated as a marker of quality of life (QoL) and to assess the impact of missed referrals on the Trust.


Interventions led to a sustained reduction in missed referrals (72% from 92%). Certain diagnoses are more readily referred, metastatic malignancy for example, 9x more frequently than advanced Parkinson’s. Patients meeting criteria averaged 3 admissions in the preceding year (compared to 1.7). Of those meeting criteria and still alive, patients not referred averaged 1 re-admission within 6 months compared to 0.3 when referred.


Missed CPC referrals impact patient QoL and increase the burden on acute inpatient services. Significant benefits could be seen if these findings are extended to other inpatient wards. There is also a need for education about the palliative stage of non-malignant diseases such as Dementia and Parkinson’s. Future steps include technology-based active screening of inpatients to facilitate referrals.

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