Lancaster University

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Unique Summer School for End of Life Care

07/07/2006 11:26:06

Lancaster University is hosting the only research summer school in the world aimed at doctors and nurses and other staff working with the dying.

The innovative course at the International Observatory on End of Life Care provides an introduction to research methods for medical staff.

Annual Research Summer School
Annual Research Summer School

It aims to help them design and carry out their own social science projects into palliative care.

Doctors and nurses have come from all over the world to attend the two week course.

Kate Richardson is a nurse from New Zealand who is doing a PhD in palliative care at the University of Auckland.

She said: “You can’t overestimate how important it is to meet people in the same field.

“Palliative care is an under-researched area because no-one wants to talk about death and dying.

“But you can’t nurse by rote – you have to think about what you do and evaluate it in terms of ethics.

“A course like this makes you think about best practice for patients.”

Amongst the doctors was Norma O’Leary from Ireland who is interested in research into palliative care for non-cancer patients.

She said: “It’s an area that’s been developing very quickly and now we’re becoming more aware that proving the effectiveness of the intervention is important.”

Dr Suresh Kumar from India said: “Most of us play a double role as a clinician and in developing services and it’s important to do both well. The course is very useful for the evaluation of service development”

Dr Sarah Yardley is a hospital doctor in Preston who wants to research spirituality in palliative care.

She said: “I think the patient has got a lot to teach us and often it’s the patients’ perspective which should be sought because what you learn from them can add to your research.”

Professor George Dickinson from Charleston College in South Carolina is a medical sociologist teaching the students how to carry out surveys for their research.

He said: “You’re just way ahead of the US when it comes to palliative care and it would be nice to have something like this summer school back home.”

The Director of the Observatory is Professor David Clark.

He said: “We’ve had a lot of interest from all over the world and we’re especially keen to make this summer school available in developing countries - perhaps we could even run it in India or Africa in the future.”