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The palliative ch Working Group "Quality"

The treatment of seriously ill and dying persons has many dimensions to it. The goal is an individually adapted medicine, care and support. At the same time, standards of quality have to be produced so that the treatment is safe, validated, and appropriate. Therefore palliative ch has from early on endeavoured to set up quality standards.

The palliative ch Working Group Quality has been operating since 2000. It has the task of studying the various aspects of quality of palliative care and creating instruments for controlling them.

The working group draws on models from abroad, especially those from Canada, the USA, England and Australia. It refers to the guidelines of the EAPC (European Association for Palliative Care). palliative ch has thus created a new quality label, which is fully geared to the Swiss healthcare sector. The promotion of quality takes an important place in the 2010–2012 report by BAG (Swiss Department of Health) and GDK (Swiss Conference of Healthcare Directors) on the national strategy for palliative care.

The working group is divided into the sub-groups

  • Label
  • MDS (Minimal Data Set)

Some Terms Relating to Quality

For institutions, the quality standards serve as a basis for the implementation of quality work. By means of quality criteria, the evidence is provided that an institution is offering palliative care of a high standard of quality. This is certified by awarding a label. The inspection to determine whether the quality criteria are fulfilled is done by an on-site audit. The criteria listing forms the normative basis for the audit.

The Label Subgroup

This is made up of professionals from nursing and care, psychology, and the administrative and medical sectors, who are working in palliative care.
The core task of the subgroup is the work to establish the criteria for quality.

The following criteria lists have been produced or are in preparation:

  • Specialised inpatient facilities for palliative care
  • Specialised mobile services for palliative care (core competence teams within the hospital and outside the hospital)
  • Palliative care in long-term care
  • General mobile services that also offer palliative care

The audits are done according to the peer principle, by professionals who are working in palliative care. These are supported by a specialist from the field of quality management. The Label subgroup takes on the training and regular further training of the auditors.

The MDS (Minimal Data Set) Subgroup

This is made up of professionals from nursing and care, administration, and the medical sector, who are working in the field of palliative care.
The subgroup defines and obtains data and key figures which are of relevance in palliative care, with the aim of being able to compare the processes in the various structures and settings.  

The so-called Minimal Data Set makes possible the comparison of anonymized patient data from Swiss palliative stations, hospices or from mobile palliative care teams within and outside the hospitals. The following data are obtained: anonymized personal data of the patients, average period of stay or treatment, place of death, main diagnoses, quality of life of the patients during the time of treatment.
These data are needed to make the funding providers, the public and the media more aware of the need for palliative care, and to make it possible for everyone to have access to it.

During the first data survey in 2008, 25 teams were assessed, of which 18 were in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, 5 in the German-speaking part, and 2 in the Italian-speaking part. The results were presented at the palliative ch annual conference in Biel in 2008.

In The Future

Until now this committee of palliative ch has awarded the label on the basis of the recommendation of the Quality working group and the report of the audit team.
In order to establish the work on quality on a broader foundation, on 16th March 2010 the Swiss Association for Quality in Palliative Care was founded in Bern. It will be awarding the labels in future.
The Label subgroup continually revises the criteria lists.
Criteria List A will be available on the website of palliative ch from the middle of 2010. The lists B to D will be put online later.


Structures of Care (PDF in German)
MDS Report 2008 (PDF in German)

The Quality working group depends on the collaboration of professionals from the field of palliative care. Our colleagues who are interested are welcome. Please get in touch with the office of palliative ch.