Global Interventions at the End of Life

Funded by The Wellcome Trust, this project focuses on how interventions relating to end of life issues are developing around the world, and with what consequences. It addresses the global challenges associated with ageing, population growth and growing pressures on services and systems. The project has four key dimensions:

Conceptual Work

We have developed an innovative taxonomy of end of life interventions that provides a new road map for end of life studies. We have used post-colonial and translation studies to make sense of the challenges of transferring interventions from one context to another. We have published important papers on the concept of compassionate communities, the relationship between public health and palliative care, and the wider societal implications for dying and death when assisted dying is legalised. The definition of palliative care is an ongoing area of interest and we have also engaged in-depth with the concept of 'total pain'.

Case Studies

We have conducted innovative empirical studies of end of life interventions from different parts of the taxonomy. These include work on the Kerala model of community palliative care and its transfer to the state of West Bengal. We have published a range of papers on end of life ‘declarations’ as tools for advocacy. One core study focuses on the global spread of the death café movement. Another examines the level of palliative care development in the 198 countries recognised by The United Nations, linked to a study of the 2014 Assembly Declaration on Palliative Care and its early impact. We have produced an important analysis of the rise and demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway and its international dissemination. We have worked on innovative models of housing with care and the needs of older people. Our work on assisted dying is particularly focussed on its implications for the practice of palliative care.

Public Engagement

We are strongly committed to the wider sharing, dissemination and discussion of our work. This takes many forms. We are active on social media and have a much read blog, with a rolling programme of new content. We run death cafes, film screenings, writing events, seminars, and curate exhibitions. Our work is presented at science and book festivals, and pop-up settings of various kinds.

Capacity Building

Research in end of life issues is still relatively under-developed and under-funded. We have used our project to develop the careers of post-doctoral researchers, to enter into partnerships with institutions and colleagues around the world, and to build collaborative initiatives with support from funders like ESRC, and the GCRF. We have a cohort of postgraduate research students undertaking related work and building their potential to become the researchers of tomorrow.

The ideas behind Global Interventions at the End of Life

The project presented at UK Palliative Care Congress