A day in the life of… a Marie Curie Hospice Research Facilitator

by Dr Noleen McCorry, Dr Anne Finucane and Dr Kathy Armour Research Facilitators research

Palliative and end of life care research is vital in improving care for patients and families and Marie Curie Cancer Care is committed to encouraging research across our hospices and nursing service. Dr Noleen McCorry is a Research Facilitator   at Marie Curie Hospice Belfast, Dr Anne Finucane is at Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh, and Dr Kathy Armour is at Marie Curie Hospice West Midlands.
Research in our hospices is vital. We want to provide the best evidence-based care that we can to our patients and their families. And research is a crucial way of increasing this evidence base. So it is important that hospice staff are engaged in research, and up to date with the latest findings. And secondly, there is always more that we can learn and hospices are full of staff and patients who we know are happy to participate in research studies. By playing a part in generating new evidence, patients and hospice staff can help us to continually improve palliative and end of life care. Our role as Research Facilitators   is to embed research skills, research activity and the application of evidence more fully into everyday practice within Marie Curie. Here is a snapshot of a typical day for us: 9am: Teleconference with colleagues from local Universities to finalise details of a research proposal and discuss potential sources of research funding. 10am: Scan journals to keep up to date with new publications, and then flag these up to staff at the hospice. It is important that everyone keeps abreast of new research, so that we are confident that our care is based on good evidence. 10.30am: Prepare the hospice research newsletter including dates and details of conferences, training events and funding opportunities. Letting hospice and nursing staff know about these ensures that everyone has the opportunity to develop their skills and improve their care. 11.30am: Attend a day therapy session to gather feedback from patients and staff about a funding application for a research study. 12pm: Co-chair a Research Group meeting. During today’s meeting, staff are discussing a research project which will evaluate an intervention for day therapy patients with cachexia. We also talk about upcoming research events, such as conferences. 1.30pm: Have lunch - then meet with one of our doctors to talk about a research question she is developing and advise her on gaining ethics approval for the study. 2pm:  Go to a regular meeting where hospice staff discuss an interesting piece of research or new publication they’ve seen. Today the Hospice Ward Manager presents an interesting article on recognising that a person’s preferred place of care may change over the course of their illness. We talk about what implications this might have for our practice at the hospice. 3pm: Meet with the Marie Curie Head of Policy to discuss research findings from a Marie Curie funded research project. Discuss a policy briefing which will be sent to Members of Parliament. We are excited that this will help to raise awareness of palliative and end of life care. 4pm: Talk to the research team at Marie Curie’s London office to prepare a press release about this study. Disseminating our research is crucial to get people talking about important issues around death and dying. 5pm: Email staff to tell them about an information leaflet   (PDF, 680KB) we have developed which is being shared with patients when they visit our hospice. The leaflet encourages interested patients and carers to ask about research projects which are currently running at the hospice, and to remind staff to approach eligible patients and families about taking part in studies. Their opinions are invaluable and we know that many of our patients wish to contribute their time and experiences to research studies.