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Families and palliative care: How can we improve how families are supported when someone is dying?


Faculty of Social Sciences

About the Project

Despite clear statements that people with advanced illness should have access to palliative care that treats the family as the unit of care, the practice of this is woefully inadequate or missing from actual practice. This means that families at a most vulnerable point in the life-cycle are under-supported and that the WHO and following national and local policies are not adequately enacted. Yet, lack of family support leads to distress.
Although some evidence-based interventions exist to offer family-level psychosocial care, the more fundamental job of attending to the wider psychosocial needs of the family and demands that advanced illness places on families has not yet been addressed. Some attention is given to families in the form of family meetings yet there remains inadequate understanding of what families gain from these and whether they meet the needs of relatives at all.
We know that the relationship between families and healthcare professionals is essential in delivering good quality care, yet this depends on how healthcare staff relate to families.
We welcome doctoral research applications for projects which seek to develop:
1. A thorough understanding of practice in the support of families – in a range of settings including acute care, care homes and specialist palliative care.
2. Insight into how geographically spread families are impacted by the advanced illness of one member.
3. Theory to conceptualise and describe family support in advanced illness.
4. Theory to lead to clear and implementable changes in practice to improve family support in advanced illness.


We welcome PhD applications in any of the above areas or similar themes.

Funding Notes

Would also consider helping students to develop a proposal to submit for the ESRC competition

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