Working in palliative care is a privilege. As a nurse I was deeply touched when I shared important moments in people’s lives. I have shared births, birthdays, weddings and funerals with people and their families. I have been alongside people in their last moments of life. I have laughed and cried with people as they have lived before they died. I have advocated to meet their needs, and been humbled by their strengths. The person-centred, relational aspect of health care is at the heart of palliative care. This is what matters to most people. But, for me, this is not incompatible with basing what we do on robust evidence. This is why, after nearly 20 years working as a nurse in different palliative care settings, I moved to a career focused on palliative care research. Here, I advocate for people at a different level – working to understand how we can provide better care, and how to translate this understanding into evidence-based practice.
I currently work as Professor of Palliative Care at the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University. This means that I support many students around the world as they study palliative care, primarily aimed at gaining a PhD in Palliative Care, and work to improve care in their own countries and settings. I am also involved in a number of different research studies, mostly examining different ways of improving how we can provide care. This includes research understanding the role and impact of volunteers, how we can better care for people with advanced dementia, and the impact of new models of care such as providing round-the-clock specialist palliative care. A passion remains getting evidence in to practice, and I am honoured to work with many palliative care researchers around the world as Editor-in-Chief of Palliative Medicine, the research journal of the EAPC. We’ve worked hard to make the high-quality research we publish reach as many people as possible with a focus on innovative dissemination modes such as our podcasts, and use of social media including twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
It has been a wonderful experience to serve on the EAPC board, and as secretary, for the past nearly four years. We have achieved much in that time, but still have more to do to support palliative care across Europe and beyond. I have been particularly excited by being linked to the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering, contributing to planning the EAPC Volunteering Charter launch and associated advocacy work. I look forward, if elected, to continuing to contribute and be a voice for palliative care across Europe, working to bring organisations together to share experience, best practice, and develop palliative care for all.