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Social support services in hospices to be explored in new study

06 September 2017
  • University of Liverpool

A new research project aims to explore the benefits and availability of social support services that hospices offer to people with life-limiting conditions.

The research will take place within the Academic Palliative and Supportive Care Studies Group at the University of Liverpool, led by Professor Mari Lloyd-Williams and funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

The study will be undertaken by Natasha Bradley, a PhD student at the university, who explains why she is interested in social support:

“We are an undeniably social species, and adequate social support is necessary for a good quality of life. Social support is defined as the resources we gain through interacting with other people, this includes emotional support, companionship, information or advice, and tangible assistance. Social support can protect against stress and help the individual to navigate some of the psychological challenges of living with illness.”

“For example, receiving emotional support and advice from others who have had similar experiences is a common coping mechanism in advanced cancer. Yet existing research suggests that people with life-limiting illness are at risk to experience insufficient social support and loneliness, which has negative effects on both physical and mental health.”

“Palliative day care is commonly offered by hospices, although hospices differ greatly in what services, activities and support they offer.  The social support that patients obtain through attending palliative day care is thought to improve wellbeing, but existing research relies mostly on patient and service-provider evaluations rather than the use of statistical evidence. Demonstrating effectiveness in terms of patient outcomes will be valuable to the hospice sector, funding bodies and UK policy in guiding the continued development of services offering social support.”

The first stage of the research project is an online survey designed to improve understanding of the services offered by hospices, who can attend, where they take place, and how they operate. All hospices in the UK & ROI are eligible to participate, and we would like to invite staff involved in the management of day care of other services for people living in the community with life-limiting illness to please complete the survey.

To contact the researcher, please email  Natasha Bradley

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