A comparative case study of hospice and hospital end-of-life care for aging adults with developmental disabilities

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Social Work

Publication Title

Global Qualitative Nursing Research


Greater attention is being paid to issues surrounding end-of-life care for aging adults with developmental disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the end-of-life experiences of two aging adults with developmental disabilities and life-limiting serious illnesses who received care in settings in the United States. Using a comparative case study design, data from three sources (records, staff, surrogates) were collected sequentially and triangulated via within and cross-case analyses. Although the setting and design limit the generalizability of these findings, the feasibility of delivering high quality care to adults with developmental disabilities as they age and experience terminal illnesses is supported. Insights are presented regarding how nurses can address barriers by adapting policies and practices to accommodate the distinct needs that arise as people with developmental disabilities age, become seriously ill, and reach life’s end.