More than five million euros for research to improve palliative care in Europe

Two experts in palliative care from Lancaster University are involved in leading a 5M euro project to smooth the transition between hospital and home for patients with cancer to improve their quality of life.

Many incurably ill cancer patients in the last phase of life leave hospital with too little information or with uncertainty about access to palliative care. This can lead to a reduction in quality of life and hospitalisations that could have been prevented.

Professor Nancy Preston is a Co-Director in the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University and Emeritus Professor Sheila Payne is a former President of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC).

Together they will lead the Lancaster University element of a large European Collaborative project called ‘Pal_Cycles’ with Dr Maddy French and Anthony Greenwood, also of Lancaster University, beginning in September 2022.

The project will receive over 5.3 million Euros over the next 5 years, with almost a million euros for Lancaster University.

Professor Preston said: “We are investigating whether an optimal transition of care can be facilitated from the hospital to community care, so that patients can remain at home for longer, with better quality of life.”

The basis of the programme was developed during a study previously conducted in the Netherlands and will now be further developed and tailored towards other European countries, with the invention part led by Lancaster University.

Professor Payne said: “We need to take into account the differences in healthcare in the different countries such as how healthcare is organized, how do local customs for example related to referral differ, what training is required to implement changes.”

The researchers will determine what the effects of the study are and also evaluate the costs. They will also look at whether the number of readmissions to the hospital decreases or not.

In addition, the project includes a study of the softer values of palliative care in different countries such as: Can you talk freely about the end of life, or is it a taboo? How do people deal with values such as hope and dependence, and what impact does that have on palliative care?

This international research project incluides partners from nine European countries (Germany, England, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Portugal and Spain). The overall lead in Europe is Jeroen Hasselaar who said: “We are going to carry out a clinical study in seven countries, in which we will further develop and apply a palliative care transition programme that will improve care in the home situation. In this way, we want to further integrate palliative care services to improve well-being for those with cancer.”

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