Shaping attitudes to death and dying

Carer holding hand of elderly patient
24 Feb 2011 09:55:07.097
PA 63/11

It’s a subject that very few of us feel comfortable dwelling on and a topic that remains seldom discussed in our culture. Yet how we face our final days and whether we can die with dignity is a fundamental issue for a society facing the challenges of an ageing population and an increase in chronic long-term illnesses.

Now, a University of Nottingham research centre is to celebrate the five years of work it has done to address the moral, ethical and practical challenges surrounding these difficult subjects and the impact it has had on shaping public policies relating to end of life issues.

The Sue Ryder Care Centre for the Study of Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care will mark its fifth anniversary with a one-day conference on Monday February 28 at East Midlands Conference Centre on University Park campus.
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The conference will bring together experts in palliative care and end of life studies from government bodies, charities and academia and will showcase the research that members of the centre have been instrumental in delivering over the past five years.

Among the research team’s highlights have been working to draw attention to the resources care homes need to provide better end of life care, reporting on the state of public attitudes to death, dying and bereavement in conjunction with the National Council for Palliative Care and the National End of Life Care Programme and advising on approaches to changing attitudes.

In addition, they have evaluated the success of the National End of Life Care Programme in implementing the End of Life Care Strategy, launched in 2008 to improve the provision of care for all people during their final days, and developing guidance for health and social care staff about decision making and advance care planning which is now used in education and training programmes across the country.

It’s an issue which has gained further significance in the wake of recent concerns over the way in which society cares for its elderly and those with long-term illnesses, as highlighted by the recent report by the Health Services Ombudsman which accused the NHS of failing to meet the most basic standards of care for older people.

Professor Jane Seymour, who co-leads the centre with colleague Professor Karen Cox, said: “It has been a pleasure and a challenge to develop and lead the Sue Ryder Care Centre over the last five years, working with a team of committed and talented staff and a growing number of students, collaborators and research advisors.

“There have never been such great opportunities or interest in supportive, palliative and end of life care, and the needs for such care have never before been subject to so much rapid demographic and epidemiological change. Working together, we have the best chance we have ever had to begin to make a positive difference to people as they live with progressive illness and to support them as they face death.”

Among the guest speakers at the conference will be Professor Scott Murray of the Primary Palliative Care Research Group at The University of Edinburgh, Claire Henry, Director of the National End of Life Care Programme and Jo Black of the National Council for Palliative Care.

The event will also be attended by some of the centre’s ‘research partners’ — patients, their carers and families who have been directly affected by the topics of the centre’s research and can offer vital advice and perspectives to ensure that work continues to reflect the reality of people’s experiences of palliative and end of life care.

The Sue Ryder Care Centre is partly supported by a generous philanthropic donation from a private trust and has a special collaborative relationship with the charity Sue Ryder Care a key provider of palliative and neurological care.

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Jane Seymour on +44 (0)115 823 1202,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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