Making your hospice more research active – where do you start?

Dr Liz Reed is Research Lead at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, UK, which provides a range of palliative care services to patients and families as well as delivering a thriving education and research programme. Here, she explains the background to her longer article that is published in the March/April issue of the European Journal of Palliative Care.


Nursing staff at Princess Alice Hospice: the importance of embedding research into everyday practice

 Nursing staff at Princess Alice Hospice: the importance of embedding research into everyday practice

There is increasing pressure on hospices to be more research active, but if your organisation has not really engaged with research, it’s hard to know exactly where to start. Back in 2013, when I joined Princess Alice Hospice, the research activity was predominantly recruiting for studies run by external researchers, and academics or staff members undertaking their MSc. degrees.

We wanted to think about how we could promote research more widely throughout the hospice, as well as adding to the wider palliative care knowledge base. We decided to adopt a strategic approach to begin to develop as a research active organisation. Our three- to five-year research strategy was the basis from which we started to look at different ways to engage staff from around the organisation in research and increase our research activity in a more systematic way.

I undertook a rapid appraisal of the literature on psychosocial research in palliative care over the previous ten years, identifying the relevant key literature reviews. I then presented this as a part of a multiprofessional workshop, identifying key themes and gaps in knowledge.

Through debate (sometimes heated!) and discussion we developed a consensus to take forward three themes: Health promotion and palliative care, non-malignant disease and partners and families. We are very proud that we now have current and planned projects in all three prioritised themes.

In order to ‘demystify’ and promote the hospice as research active, other developments were needed to encourage and support staff to engage in research, including:

  • journal clubs
  • a programme of research seminars
  • active encouragement of representation from different disciplines on research project steering groups
  • quarterly research newsletters
  • accessible training on research methods.

We still have a long way to go and are learning all the time, but we have been encouraged by how the organisation is really beginning to embed research into everyday practice and see it as positive and valuable rather than a challenge.

When I started I was, not surprisingly, faced with some well-meaning paternalism from busy clinicians protecting their patient from unnecessary intrusion. But I have definitely noticed slow, steady and subtle changes over the past two years. A simple example is when nurses and doctors approach me directly to tell me they have the perfect patient for a study I am recruiting for. It makes my day!

The paper published in the March/April edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care describes in more detail our experience of developing a research active hospice.

I still feel very much that we are only starting out, but would welcome discussion with others who have developed, or are aiming to develop their hospice as more research active.

Dr Jennifer Todd and I will be presenting a poster on the study at the 9th World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care in Dublin: Can a palliative care education intervention improve and sustain participants’ confidence and professional development in palliative care and does this translate to care delivery? So if you are attending, please come and find us! 

EJPC232coverRead the full article in the European Journal of Palliative Care
This post relates to a longer article, Development of a hospice research strategy through organisational consensus by Elizabeth Reed and Jennifer Todd, published in the March/April 2016 edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care (vol. 23.2).

If you have a web-based subscription to the journal you’ll be able to download this issue, plus all articles in the journal archive. You can also browse the archive and download articles by taking a 10-minute or 30-minute subscription. Members of the EAPC receive discounted subscription rates to the journal – click here to subscribe online.



This entry was posted in EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, European Journal of Palliative Care, RESEARCH and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Making your hospice more research active – where do you start?

  1. Colleen says:

    We have recently undertaken a similar journey at our hospice in New Zealand – based on the framework suggested by the Hospice UK Comission into the Future of Hospice. Going really well!

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