BACKGROUND: Older people in long-term care facilities face clinical uncertainty and unpredictable decline. Advance care planning enables older people to identify preferences and wishes for future treatment and care before any loss of capacity. However, it is unclear how, why and under what circumstances the implementation of advance care planning for older people can be normalised into routine practice within long-term care facilities.
OBJECTIVE: To identify and explain mechanisms and contextual factors that underpin the implementation of advance care planning for older people in long-term care facilities.
DESIGN: Realist review.
SETTING(S): Long-term care facilities.
METHODS: Consistent with realist review methodology, we developed the initial programme theory by scoping reviews, engaging UK and China stakeholders and utilising the Normalisation Process Theory. MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Scopus were subsequently searched from 01/01/1990 to 11/06/2021. Inductive and deductive coding was used to generate context-mechanism-outcome configurations, which were iteratively tested to refine the programme theory.
RESULTS: 5459 records were identified, and 48 were retained for final synthesis. Seven context-mechanism-outcome configurations were identified: (1) carry out sensitive conversation gradually in a nonthreatening way; (2) identify 'a window of opportunity'; (3) deliver sustainable and available training; (4) build a collaborative and multidisciplinary network; (5) conduct collaborative negotiation to achieve shared decision-making; (6) secure active leadership buy-in; (7) keep conversation and documentation on track. A logic model was developed to conceptualise the causal pathways between the contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: Normalising conversations about death is paramount to mainstreaming advance care planning implementation in long-term care facilities. The key to achieving this is older people, family members and staff have a shared understanding of the aims, values, and potential benefits of advance care planning. Advance care planning should be introduced at a time that is important to older people and families, rather than being process-driven. Nurse facilitators play a vital role in ensuring older people's voices are heard and in building bridges between participants in advance care planning. The findings of this study inform the appropriate development and evaluation of advance care planning interventions for older people in long-term care facilities. Further research is needed to explore mechanisms that underpin the implementation of advance care planning in Asian countries.
REGISTRATION: This review is registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (CRD42021214317).