• Enabling occupation at the end of life: A literature review

      Mills, Katherine; Payne, Angela; University of Derby (Cambridge University Press, 2015-06-15)
      Objective: Occupation, or meaningful activity, can contribute to the well-being and quality of life of all individuals. It is thus a logical tautology that occupation should be enabled for those at the end of life. Our present review examines current provision of these processes by Occupational Therapist, who can be much-valued members of multidisciplinary palliative care teams. Method: Following a literature search and critical selection, 10 global papers were identified examining occupation and occupational therapy at the end of life in the acute, hospice, and community environments. Results: Universally, there appeared to be a dearth of therapists working in end-of-life care. Provision of palliative care in hospitals was found to be compensatory or rehabilitative. Hospice therapy emerged as pleasingly occupational, though the number of hospice places was disappointingly few. Community literature was sparse, so it proved challenging to draw definitive conclusions. Promising research refracted light on occupation at home; however, it also revealed stretched domiciliary services, where clients are not well informed about the potential scope of occupational therapy. Significance of Results: A “good death” involving a quality end-of-life experience is the foundational goal overarching all therapy and medicine in the provision of palliative care. Arguably, an occupation-focused approach provided by therapists meets client needs to enable meaningful experiences in the limited time left to them. Current occupational therapy practice environments are not necessarily achieving these goals in commensurate fashion. There is a need to promote the role of occupational therapy and circumscribe what therapists can offer. Further research is necessitated across all environments and future funding for therapist positions in palliative teams. End-of-life care can be complex and challenging; however, therapists can facilitate fulfillment of client-centered occupational goals. In engaging with personally constructed nuances of meaning, quality of life can be improved in those deserving of a significant and emotionally rich daily existence during their final days.