Nursing home residents are typically older adults with high levels of chronic illness and impairment. As such, they are particularly susceptible to severe complications and mortality from COVID-19. Since all nursing home residents are at increased risk, nursing home care staff need to know what residents would want to happen should they become infected with COVID-19. This study aims to develop and evaluate advance care planning (ACP) COVID-centric online training and information resources for nursing home staff and family members of residents, to improve care at the end of life during a COVID-19 outbreak. Based on the findings we will develop implementation guidelines for nursing homes to ensure wider impact and application during the pandemic and beyond.

The content of the training and information resources will be based on a rapid review of literature and guidance on ACP in the context of COVID-19 and consultation with the study expert reference group. An integrated communications company will then work alongside the research team to design the online training and information resources. To evaluate the resources, we will employ a multiple case study design where a nursing home (defined as an institutional setting in which nursing care is provided to older adults on-site 24 h a day) will be the unit of analysis or ‘case’. The RE-AIM (reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, maintenance) framework will guide the evaluation of implementation of the training and information resources. We will recruit and interview staff and family members from between 6 and 9 nursing homes across Northern Ireland, England and Scotland and gather quantitative data from a feedback survey included in the training and information resources.

The Necessary Discussions study is very timely given the challenging experiences of nursing homes, their staff, residents and their family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. It meets a key need and addresses an important gap in research and practice. The training and information resources will be ‘COVID-centric’, but they will also have a longstanding relevance for future ACP practice in UK care homes.

Trial registration
ISRCTN registry (ID 18003630) on 19.05.21


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Cite as

Harding, A., Preston, N., Doherty, J., Cousins, E., Varey, S., McCann, A., Dening, K., Finucane, A., Carter, G., Mitchell, G. & Brazil, K. 2021, 'Developing and evaluating online COVID-centric advance care planning training and information resources for nursing staff and family members in nursing homes: The necessary discussions study protocol', BMC Geriatrics, 21, article no: 456. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-021-02398-1

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Last updated: 03 September 2022
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