Things I learned about Dumfries and Galloway: it’s very sparsely populated compared to the Scottish average, and it gets twice the rainfall of Edinburgh. That, and the lovely scenery, must be why it reminded me of New Zealand. I was there visiting David Clark‘s End of Life Studies Group, which is part of the University of Glasgow. I first met David more years ago than probably either of us would care to remember. In fact, he was part of the research group at the University of Sheffield where I held my first academic post after my PhD. I worked as a Research Associate on projects exploring the role of hospitals in palliative care, and service user involvement; interestingly, both topics that I think are important, and continue to explore, today. More recently, I collaborated with him on research exploring the likelihood of death among hospital inpatients in Scotland and New Zealand. So it was great to have the opportunity to visit in person.
I was also able to meet up with another current collaborator, Naomi Richards, who I worked with on projects exploring the creation of new images of ageing and (yet) another project exploring palliative care management in hospital. Naomi has a long standing interest in research using visual images at the end of life. She had been successful in securing a grant to support my visit in order for us to work up a new project we have been discussing over a number of years now, which would use visual methods in a palliative care context. Crucially, we would like to support people with a life limiting illness and their family and friends to create their own images to convey their end of life experience. This would be a nice counter to the usual stock pictures of wrinkly hands often used when discussing palliative care (which have fueled a #nomorewrinklyhands campaign on Twitter). We decided our next step would be to further develop our ideas with service users and other stakeholders later in the year. Then we just have to hope we can successfully navigate the always challenging, and often unpredictable, journey to secure funding.
My presentation led to more great discussions about both future challenges in palliative care provision and the use of creative research methods in palliative care. We plan to use these discussions as a basis for future collaboration. I have been invited to write a separate piece about my presentation for the End of Life Studies’ Group blog so will post the link when it is published. For now it’s next stop Cambridge and then it will be time to say goodbye to the UK (just as the weather is turning decidedly Autumnal).