College of Nursing Establishes Community Partnership for End-of-Life Care in Rural Appalachia

Even though hospice care has been available in the United States for more than forty years, many rural Appalachian families lack knowledge about end-of-life care options and the role of hospice care.

Sandy Mixer

Sandy Mixer

Faculty members in the College of Nursing are addressing this need through a Community Partnership for End-of-Life Care.

The three-year project—developed by nursing faculty members Sandy Mixer and Mary Lynn Brown—establishes a community-academic partnership with church and community leaders and residents in Scott County, Tennessee to increase families’ knowledge and use of end-of-life care services.

Mary Lynn Brown

Mary Lynn Brown

“Hospice care attends to the patient and family using an interdisciplinary health care team to assist with pain and symptom management, psycho-social-spiritual care, medical equipment, medications, and bereavement support,” said Sandy Mixer, assistant professor of nursing. “We’re honored to have the privilege of working with and serving the people of Scott County to help families understand how these services can assist them in caring for their loved ones at the end of their life.”

In Scott County, there is a significant shortage of health professionals, which limits access to health care for residents.

This grant-funded project will provide academic resources including end-of-life care experts from UT’s College of Nursing, a videographer, engineers, extension agents, graphic artists, and area educators, all working together to develop educational materials for residents.

“We discovered the best way to increase their knowledge was through their churches and community members,” said Mixer. “Their residents have rich cultural values, strong family ties, a love of mountains, and an especially strong faith—which is why members of the faith-based community are playing such a key role in this effort.”

CONTACT:

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, tyra.haag@tennessee.edu)