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Relationships at end of life: what can compassionate neighbours offer?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, March 04, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Addressing loneliness is a key feature in current UK policy and practice. Relationships become very scarce at end of life for both people with life-limiting long term conditions and informal carers, with considerable ramifications for health and social outcomes. New community responses, such as “compassionate neighbours” seek to address this concern by encouraging the growth of informal community networks and relationships. The compassionate communities and neighbours approach is underpinned by principles of demedicalising death and dying, and lay people providing support and help. To date, little attention has been given to understanding how people experience these strategies to improve social and relational networks at end of life. This study will develop theory and insight into the formation and outcome of developing these relationships, for people with life-limiting conditions, their informal carer and the compassionate neighbour. The student will adopt a qualitative case study design, using 10 cases. Cases will be defined as an individual with a life-limiting condition, their compassionate neighbour, and a significant other. Data collection will use individual semi structured interviews, group interviews and photovoice. Within and between case analysis will draw on inductive and abductive approaches. A systems theoretical lens will also be used to inform analysis of relational themes. Working with the collaborative partner, Strathcarron Hospice, will ensure direct relevance to practice. Strathcarron Hospice has been developing compassionate communities since 2014. This project will enable them to understand how relationships develop between compassionate neighbours, people with life-limiting conditions and significant others, and how connections can be strengthened. The study will also benefit the wider national and international community interested in building capacity and capability around palliative care/long term condition service delivery. Insights into the role of relationships in developing compassionate neighbours will indirectly then improve effectiveness of public services and policy.

Funding Notes

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria

• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science, psychology or health component
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of serious ill health and/or palliative care
• Demonstrate an interest in qualitative methods
• Have an understanding of the importance of patient and public involvement in research
• Demonstrate comfort with talking about death/dying
• If your first language is not English you must have English language competency equivalent to the minimum level of IELTS 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award Details:
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence on October 1st 2020. It includes
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Other Information:
The studentship is part-funded by Strathcarron Hospice. The successful applicant will be expected to spend time in the hospice’s education and research department, throughout the course of the doctorate.

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by Thursday 12th March 2020. Interviews will take place on Monday 23rd March 2020.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Stirling. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

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