Lancaster University

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Fifth Birthday for Observatory on End of Life Care

10/17/2008 09:39:54

Observatory staff at the town hall
Observatory staff at the town hall

Staff at Lancaster University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care have celebrated its fifth anniversary with a tea party at Lancaster Town Hall. The event also marked World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

Colleagues from local hospices – St John’s (Lancaster), Trinity (Fylde), St Catherine’s (Preston), St Mary’s (Ulverston), Cancer Care, and the NHS attended together with representatives from local charities and churches.

A group of local people who have had experiences of cancer as patients or carers were also invited. They are members of a research partner forum led by Dr Katherine Froggatt who are helping researchers design future research projects in the Observatory.

Dr Froggatt said: “The aim is to draw on their experience to inform research and also as a group to develop our own research, for instance into the impact of cancer on friendships, which hasn’t been looked at before.

One of the nine research partners is 81-year-old former cancer patient Norah Knifton who also volunteers at Croston House, a cancer support, advice and care house in Garstang.

“You feel you’re doing something constructive based on your own experience as a layperson who’s been in hospital and had post-hospital care. I think we’ve got something to offer as the population grows older and research into end-of-life care becomes more important.”

The Observatory has expanded since it was set up at Lancaster under the leadership of Prof David Clark in 2003. There are now 25 staff and 10 PhD students. In 2006, Professor Sheila Payne took up the Help the Hospices Chair of Hospice Studies in the Observatory - the first UK chair in Hospice Studies.

Prof Payne said: “The Observatory has achieved a lot since it opened, with the production of a World Map showing that over 100 countries now have palliative care services, and we’re also halfway through a five year £2m Cancer Experiences Collaborative Programme which is very exciting.”

Her appointment was followed in 2007 by that of Dr Mike Bennett to the Chair in Palliative Medicine, a position founded in partnership with St John’s Hospice, Lancaster. Professor Bennett has recently been chosen to chair the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Palliative Care Clinical Studies Group. The Palliative Care CSG is responsible for developing and overseeing the portfolio of studies in palliative care as part of the UK Clinical Research Network.

He said: “My own research is focused on cancer pain and in Lancaster we are developing a programme of activity that we hope will lead to improved management of cancer pain for patients at home in line with the recently published Department of Health End of Life Care strategy.”