Capacity building in research for palliative care staff to enable a better end of life experience for the Central Coast community

What is the problem?

Staff from the Central Coast Local Health District report a lack of opportunity in palliative care services for clinicians to develop their clinical research skills. There has also been an absence of a strategic long-term vision for end of life care in CCLHD. Palliative care services in CCLHD are currently expanding, with new funding for doctors and specialist nurses, as well as new models of care being developed for inpatients and outpatients. Concurrently, while the number of clinician researchers in CCLHD is small and the capacity for clinical research is low, clinicians are eager to develop their research skills and experience. Previous capacity building workshops have been well attended and have resulted in five small projects being funded and delivered. A number of end of life research topics have since been proposed by clinicians and the LHD executive.

About the research translation program

This project involves a research capacity building program for clinicians to develop their research knowledge and skills. All clinicians (medical, nursing and allied health and RACF staff) who have relevant roles in palliative care, together with local consumers and managers, will be invited to participate in a program of five workshops to:

  1. Explore the progress of the implementation of the current strategy, identify existing service gaps and consider community needs and wishes;
  2. Facilitate clinicians, managers and consumers to come together and develop and agree on a strategic long-term vision for end of life care in CCLHD; 
  3. Gather clinicians’ research ideas: What do they think they need to know to improve outcomes for their patients? What evidence is lacking?
  4. Synthesise evidence and support clinicians to create useful syntheses in order to inform next steps; and
  5. Conduct a ‘research reality check’ whereby brief research proposals are reviewed by experts in research design, biostatistics and economic evaluation (from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute). 

A number of proposals will be selected for full development based on their likely contribution to the strategic long-term vision for end of life care in CCLHD.

What will be the impact?

Selected clinicians will be mentored through to study completion and the implementation of key study findings. These findings will produce recommendations to palliative care services, which can directly impact policy and practice. Upskilling CCLHD palliative care staff in applying research and evidence-based best practice will also improve palliative care options for patients, as will having a strategic long-term plan for end of life care.

For more information, contact Nick Goodwin,