Background Research shows that people in rural areas (Chukwusa, Verne, Polato, et al., 2019. Int J Health Geogr. 18:8) and people with a lower socio-economic status (Buck, Webb, Moth, et al., 2020. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 10:e23) are less likely to access palliative care. Coastal populations have the worst health outcomes in England (Whitty, 2021). The South West has the highest proportion of over 65s (Office for National Statistics, 2020), and 0% conurbation (Office for National Statistics, 2018). Public health approaches to palliative care advocate health services working alongside communities to address such challenges (Abel, Kellehear, Mills et al, 2021. Future Healthc J. 8:e699) but it is unclear what rural and coastal communities feel is needed to support this.
Aims The South West multi-sectoral palliative care research partnership (funded by the National Institute for Health Research) developed a programme of engagement in rural, coastal and low-income communities to:
Better understand the issues important to communities in relation to supporting the dying.
Explore how people’s experiences and needs impact upon their capacity to respond to death and dying, and,
Generate evidence on feasible ways to create conditions for communities to be active partners in supporting those with palliative care needs.
Methods Working in collaboration, a local community development trust, arts company and researcher are carrying out a range of engagement activities from March–August 2022, including:
Taking the ‘Departure Lounge’ installation (The Academy of Medical Sciences) into community settings to generate informal conversations.
Co-designing a creative toolkit to facilitate 40 ‘Community Conversations’ with individuals with experience of living with or caring for someone with a life-limiting illness.
Storytellers co-creating with participants more in-depth ‘stories’.
A focus group with Connectors to investigate the effectiveness of the toolkit.
Thematic analysis will be used to explore the data collected (field notes and transcripts).
Results This novel cross-sector partnership is enabling palliative care providers and researchers to work alongside community organisations to co-create new ways of generating knowledge, using creative methods to gain insight into the needs and priorities of underserved populations.
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