Personalised care plan in nursing homes wins research prize


Knowing residents’ needs and wishes when it comes to end-of-life care is crucial to avoid general confusion during a health crisis, says the winner of FWO’s research prize

Advance planning

Joni Gilissen, part of VUB’s End-of-Life Care Research Group, has won Flanders Research Foundation’s McKinsey & Company prize for 2020. The prize is awarded annually for an original doctoral study that addresses social issues and has concrete applications.

Dr Gilissen developed a personal care programme for nursing homes based on the needs and wishes of individual residents. The idea is to systematically record a patient’s expectations when it comes to certain care, including palliative care.

During the corona crisis, there was a controversy as to whether nursing home residents should be sent to hospital if they had symptoms of the coronavirus. “But what we should really be focused on is to what extent the residents themselves want that,” said Gilissen.

Preparing yourself, your family and your care professionals by talking about what your preferences are

- Dr Joni Gilissen

The researcher finds that, in the face of administrative measures and procedures, too little attention is paid to what a patient actually wants. “Advanced planning means preparing yourself, your family and your care professionals by talking about who you are and what your preferences are when it comes to care,” she explains. “Do you want to be hospitalised, do you want to be put on a ventilator, that kind of thing. This makes planning care easier, certainly when it comes to a crisis situation like we have seen over the past few months.”

The research included developing a system for providing personal care together with nursing homes staff and directors and then training other staff to use the system. Gilissen hopes the second wave of Covid-19 infections becomes a second chance for rest homes to be more prepared with the information they need.

“When you realise that the average stay in a rest home is less than two years and that a large number of the residents have some form of dementia, then it becomes clear that discussing their wishes needs to be a daily reality. But that also requires that a general policy be implemented.”

Photo ©Dirk Waem/BELGA