Conference write up
On Thursday 13th October 2022 Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) collaborated with Ulster University (UU) and the Palliative Care Research Forum NI (PCRFNI) to host a conference entitled ‘Cross-sector partnerships for Palliative and End-of-life care research’. This event was sponsored by the NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) Northern Ireland Palliative and End-of-Life Research Partnership and the PCRFNI. The aim of the conference was to provide a networking opportunity for clinicians, researchers, charities and members of the public with an interest in forming partnerships for palliative and end-of-life care research. Over 100 delegates were in attendance at the event to hear about how to apply for funding with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), to learn from leading palliative care researchers and clinicians, to meet with potential research collaborators and to hear the experiences of service users of being involved in palliative care research.
The morning session was chaired by Dr Clare McVeigh who is co-lead of the NIHR Partnership and a lecturer (Education) in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at QUB. Professor Donna Fitzsimons (QUB) opened the event with a warm welcome to all and introduced the Health Minister Robin Swann. Minister Swann welcomed everyone to the event and thanked the organising committee for the invitation to attend. He acknowledged the importance of palliative and end-of-life care and expressed his thanks to clinical and research staff who work in this field.
The first presentation of the morning was from Dr Peter O’Halloran, a senior lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery (QUB). Dr O’Halloran extended his welcome and provided information about the NIHR Partnership which has recently been established to strengthen applications in this field. Jason Horsley from NIHR then joined the event virtually to provide information the HTA Programme. He explained what the programme is and what it funds. He also provided some useful tips on how to develop a strong application. Following this, Prof Catherine Evans from King’s College London joined the conference virtually to talk about applying for NIHR funding and included some top tips for making applications.
To close the morning session, a round table discussion took place in a hybrid format to consider successful funding applications. Questions were invited from the conference attendees using Padlet. This discussion was chaired by Dr Peter O’Halloran who was joined by Prof Catherine Evans, Margaret Grayson, Jason Horsley, Prof Sonja McIlfatrick, Lynn Murphy and Karen Williams. The issues discussed included, what patients and the public want from involvement in research, how to build a research team and common mistakes or weaknesses in applications.
Next it was time for the lunch break giving attendees an opportunity to network and view the fourteen posters on display focusing on recent palliative and end-of-life care research.
The afternoon session was chaired by Dr Esther Beck who is chair of PCRFNI and lecturer at UU. First up to present was Professor Sonja McIlfatrick (UU) who talked about EAPC future directions for palliative care research and highlighted the importance of continued investment for the future.
Clodagh O’Donovan (All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care) and Monica Burns then shared a session to talk about the value Voices4Care members can contribute to research projects. Monica Burns shared her personal experience of being a PPI group member in Voices4Care.
Next up were Sonia Patton and Margaret Grayson MBE (Public Involvement Enhancing Research NI and the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum) who presented jointly, sharing their experiences of being involved in patient and public involvement in palliative care research. They discussed the challenges and opportunities they have experienced when being involved in research.
Dr Kelly Norwood, a lecturer from Ulster University presented her recent findings from a study focusing on family bereavement and its impacts during the pandemic. She shared quotations from family members from this ongoing study.
Janet Kilfedder and Lynda Bell who are Palliative Care Nurse Specialists (NIH) spoke about what it was like to work in palliative care during the pandemic and the challenges they faced trying to work in such difficult and ever-changing circumstances.
Dr Esther Ruth Beck (PCRFNI) then presented the poster prize award which had been judged by Professor Joanne Reid (QUB) and Dr Felicity Hasson (UU). The award was given to Kasia Patynowska.
The conference came to a close with Dr Beck thanking all for attending and for the event sponsors for making the day possible.
Slides from the conference are available below.