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A Step in the Right Direction

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A Step in the Right Direction

Eleanor Sowerby

My interest in health research began in 1998 when I decided to take a long awaited leap into the nursing profession.

Eleanor Sowerby

Friday 11th December 2015

My nurse training provided the scope to enable me to open my eyes to research and explore endless literature full of exciting possibilities.  This period of time really helped consolidate my understanding about the benefits of research, how it can help reaffirm current practice, shape government policy and forge a new, fresh way of thinking.

I’ve learnt that life, like research never stays static; it’s forever changing and as these changes unfold we can either choose to sit back and watch it happen or we can help drive forward change.  Being located at the heart of a proactive and esteemed research culture within Lancaster University is a dream job.  The Division of Health Research is a vibrant, progressive and stimulating environment to work in.  To be amongst such a high calibre team of internationally renowned researchers that are valued for their contribution to palliative care research is a huge honour.

However, I’m not a researcher!  I’m a nurse with an avid appreciation for practice-based research, an abundance of enthusiasm and a clear objective of upholding and enhancing the continuing development of palliative care.   My current role within the Division of Health Research is that of a Country Trainer for a large European research project called PACE (PAlliative Care for the Elderly  This role remains firmly embedded within nursing but within an educational capacity.  I will be delivering a tailored programme of training which has been adapted and enhanced from the Route to Success programme (DoH 2010).  The Route to Success programme was initially developed by the National End of Life Care Programme which was designed to help staff caring for frail older people in care homes to develop high quality palliative and end of life care.

This adapted training will incorporate training topics around communication skills relating to discussions around current and future care, the assessment and review of care, symptom management and care in the last days of life and after death.   We will be recruiting twelve nursing care homes from the North West region to take part in the PACE project.   Out of these twelve nursing homes, six will be randomly chosen to have the ‘PACE Steps to Success’ training over the period of a year.   Following the implementation, the other six homes who were not randomised into the intervention will receive the entire PACE project training materials alongside a consolidated version of the training.

At a time of considerable change in the provision of care throughout the NHS, an increasing ageing population, many of whom have multiple co-morbidities, we can’t afford to just sit back and wait.  We need to take proactive, decisive steps forward and invest in shaping the future of palliative care in care homes.   From my prior experience of working within nursing homes, I completely understand the pressures that staff face.   However, this is where Nursing Home Organisations, Managers, residents, families and staff need to unite and embrace a culture of change by ensuring practice-based research plays an integral role within each care home.    So let’s unite and take a step in the right direction with me and help to play an active part in shaping a culture of change within care homes so that we can help make a positive difference for current and future generations to come.

Eleanor Sowerby is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Lancaster her current focus is PACE: Comparing the Effectiveness of Palliative Care for Elderly People in Long Term Care Facilities in Europe