Visiting the Nottingham Centre for the Advancement of Research into Supportive, Palliative and End-of-life Care (NCARE), based in Queen’s Medical Centre, reminded my of my days in Sheffield when I was based in busy teaching hospitals. And particularly my propensity to get lost in their winding corridors! So I was very grateful to Kristian Pollack who very kindly met me and pointed me in the right direction. It was also great to have the opportunity to chat with Kristian as I’ve followed her work with interest for a number of years. She’s been involved in some really interesting research exploring hospital environments and wrote an important editorial a few years ago addressing the question of whether ‘home is always the best and preferred place of care?‘. I completely support her conclusion that: ‘Far from neglecting and disregarding the hospital as a site of terminal care, much greater thought and adequate resources must be directed to enabling hospitals to provide excellent support for dying patients and their families’. As we speak, Jackie is working on recommendations from her PhD study which will address this critical issue. It was also great to meet Glenys Caswell and discuss her work on agency in the context of social death and, particularly, living and dying alone. There is lots of resonance with the findings coming out of our Te Pakeketanga project and particularly a paper Tess is working on regarding how people in advanced age exercise agency at end of life.
There was a great discussion following my presentation and, as with all my visits, I’ve been struck by how much good PhD research there is going on in palliative care, something which bodes very well for the future. For example, PhD student Yakubu Salifu told me about his study exploring home-based supportive and palliative care for patients with Advanced-stage Prostate Cancer in Ghana. There’s a real dearth of information about palliative and end of life care provision in resource limited countries and findings are likely to not only have local relevance, but also point to important transferable lessons. Indeed, as a geographer (albeit one with no sense of direction!), I strongly believe that we need to play more attention to place, space and cultural context within palliative care.