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      Being a safe place: a qualitative study exploring perceptions as to how a rural community hospice could respond to enactment of voluntary assisted dying legislation


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          There is a lack of research to guide the implementation of voluntary assisted dying legislation within a hospice setting. Furthermore, there is limited published information related to the expectations of the community and staff to assist decision making regarding voluntary assisted dying in a community hospice. The aim of this study was to explore the expectations of staff, volunteers and members of the community as how a rural Australian community hospice could respond in relation to imminent enactment of Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation.


          A total of 63 Hospice staff and volunteers and community members participated in 11 workshops. This qualitative study used the interpretive description method to analyse the workshop transcripts.


          While there was not a consensus view on community expectation, there was agreement among the participants for respect for a patient’s individuality and choices. Furthermore, care offered in hospice needs to remain non-judgemental and patient focused regardless of whether voluntary assisted dying policy was implemented or not. Both opportunities and risks associated with implementation were identified by the participants.


          There was common ground around the respect for the dying person and the ideal of a “safe place” despite opposing views on what this may mean in practice. There is a need for clarity in organisational responses around policy, risk management, education, and staff support.

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          Most cited references21

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          The Analytic Challenge in Interpretive Description

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            Medical Assistance in Dying — Implementing a Hospital-Based Program in Canada

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              Implementing a Death with Dignity program at a comprehensive cancer center.

              The majority of Death with Dignity participants in Washington State and Oregon have received a diagnosis of terminal cancer. As more states consider legislation regarding physician-assisted death, the experience of a comprehensive cancer center may be informative. We describe the implementation of a Death with Dignity program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the site of care for the Fred Hutchinson-University of Washington Cancer Consortium, a comprehensive cancer center in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Institution-level data were compared with publicly available statewide data from Oregon and Washington. A total of 114 patients inquired about our Death with Dignity program between March 5, 2009, and December 31, 2011. Of these, 44 (38.6%) did not pursue the program, and 30 (26.3%) initiated the process but either elected not to continue or died before completion. Of the 40 participants who, after counseling and upon request, received a prescription for a lethal dose of secobarbital (35.1% of the 114 patients who inquired about the program), all died, 24 after medication ingestion (60% of those obtaining prescriptions). The participants at our center accounted for 15.7% of all participants in the Death with Dignity program in Washington (255 persons) and were typically white, male, and well educated. The most common reasons for participation were loss of autonomy (97.2%), inability to engage in enjoyable activities (88.9%), and loss of dignity (75.0%). Eleven participants lived for more than 6 months after prescription receipt. Qualitatively, patients and families were grateful to receive the lethal prescription, whether it was used or not. Overall, our Death with Dignity program has been well accepted by patients and clinicians.

                Author and article information

                BMC Palliat Care
                BMC Palliat Care
                BMC Palliative Care
                BioMed Central (London )
                4 January 2022
                4 January 2022
                : 21
                [1 ]GRID grid.1012.2, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7910, Rural Clinical School of Western Australia, , University of Western Australia, ; M701 31 Stirling Terrace, Albany, Western Australia 6330 Australia
                [2 ]Albany Community Hospice, Diprose Crescent, Albany, Western Australia 6330 Australia
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

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                © The Author(s) 2022

                Anesthesiology & Pain management
                death,assisted,death with dignity,respect,hospice care,qualitative research,health policy


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