Top European palliative care leader visits UK to share expertise

The leader of a major study into ‘Palliative Care for Older People in care and nursing homes in Europe (PACE)’, has been visiting Lancaster University to foster links between the Centre for Ageing Research and the International Observatory on End of Life Care.

Lieve Van den Block is Professor of Communication and Education in Family Medicine and Chair of the Ageing and Palliative Care Research Programme at the End of Life Care Research Group at Vrije University Brussels, Belgium.

During a visit to Lancaster’s International Observatory on End of Life Care, Professor Van den Block described key issues in ageing and end of life care for older people living in nursing homes in Europe drawing upon a large European Commission funded study called PACE.

The overall aim of the PACE project is to inform and assist policy and decision-makers at national and European levels, helping to achieve the objectives of the European 2020 Strategy, specifically the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.

Ultimately, this will lead to optimising the delivery of palliative care to a large proportion of older EU citizens, especially those living in nursing homes

Professor Van den Block met researchers at Lancaster University who are also involved in the PACE consortium which includes eight research institutes, spanning six European countries, and four European organisations.

Professor Van den Block said: “A significant proportion of older people spend the final part of their life in a care home, nursing home, or long-term care facility, but despite this, palliative care has only recently been introduced in such facilities. It’s important the staff in care homes know how to provide skilled and compassionate care.”

The PACE project has conducted three studies:

  1. Mapping palliative care systems in care or nursing homes in Europe.
  2. Carrying out a large-scale representative study to examine quality of dying and palliative care in care or nursing homes in Europe.
  3. Studying the impact of an innovative educational programme ‘PACE Steps to Success’ which aims to improve the quality of palliative care in nursing homes.

Professor Van den Block has also been involved in creating a free online course together with Professors Sheila Payne and Katherine Froggatt from the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University.

The three week FutureLearn course will draw upon evidence on how to improve care using the PACE Steps to Success programme, outlining six practical and organisational changes that improve care for older people, their families and staff working in, and with, care homes.

Professor Payne of Lancaster University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care said: “This course will introduce you to new ideas and research about how to apply the principles of palliative care in care homes that will benefit older residents, and give staff more confidence and skills. Practical examples demonstrating how to use each new step have been filmed in care homes in Belgium, England, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, and in Switzerland.”

You can access the course on the FutureLearn website.