Researcher appointed as honorary nurse consultant in palliative care | Research news

Researcher appointed as honorary nurse consultant in palliative care

Community nursing researcher Dr Ben Bowers has been recruited to a new nursing leadership role at CPFT, to provide advice and support to staff delivering palliative and end of life patient care.

Ben (main photo) has worked with the Trust to lead several research projects in this specialist area, and is a Queen’s Nurse and Community Nursing Research Consultant with The Queen's Nursing Institute. From April, he will be doing part time clinical shifts to help CPFT’ s community nursing teams in Older People and Adult Community (OPAC) services with complex patient care advice, end of life symptom control training, and reflective practice sessions.

Ben’s clinical work is also complemented by a prestigious Wellcome Fellowship with the University of Cambridge Primary Care Unit, where he is running a research programme to understand and improve end of life symptom control at home.

Ben said: “I look forward to working with community nurses at CPFT, using research to enhance clinical practice and improve the experience for patients and their families approaching this challenging phase of care. Over the years I have been working to increase the evidence available to support care decisions and resources for staff to help manage palliative and end of life care in the best possible way. I’m very grateful to CPFT for offering me this opportunity to help NHS staff translate the latest developments in palliative care research to benefit community patients at home.

“My journey in research started with a part time clinical fellowship which allowed me to develop research skills alongside my clinical practice in community palliative care. As part of my fellowship, I reviewed the evidence for anticipatory prescribing to look at how we can improve access to medicines for distressing symptoms at home, and these research skills opened new opportunities. My research mentors supported me to develop a robust research proposal, which won a highly competitive PhD scholarship with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research.

“Any nurses keen to get involved in research should contact leads for the field of research you are interested in to ask for guidance - and believe in your abilities!”

Ben’s latest publication shares findings and key recommendations from studies exploring how to support family carers and manage medication at the end of life. Community nurses can act as a ‘linchpin’ in supporting families with personalised, timely professional advice, and Ben’s paper reviews the evidence available to inform their clinical practice. 

The full article is available to read in the British Journal of Community Nursing:
Managing medication at the end of life: supporting family carers

Isobel Wilkerson, Associate Director of Nursing and Quality for Older People and Adult Community (OPAC) services at CPFT said: “We are delighted to welcome colleague and Queen’s Nurse Ben to our nursing leadership team at CPFT. Our community nurses and patients will really benefit from his expertise and research to improve palliative care and develop their skills. This role is a wonderful addition to the OPAC senior clinical team and I hope Ben will inspire more nurses to get involved in projects at the Trust.”

Working with the Queen’s Nursing Institute, Ben has set up the Community Nursing Research Forum to help nurses working in community services to start their path in research and learn more. Staff are invited to join for support and research guidance, and access to free bitesize research masterclasses providing invaluable advice. Find more details and join the Forum here

Read about Ben’s research with CPFT in these published articles sharing findings:

  1. Bowers B, Pollock K, Barclay S: Simultaneously reassuring and unsettling: a longitudinal qualitative study of community anticipatory medication prescribing for older patients. Age and Ageing 2022. 51(12): Available online first

    This interview study highlighted that open and honest discussions about the role of anticipatory medications and end of life symptom control are needed to support patients and their families.
  2. Bowers B, Pollock K, Barclay S: Unwelcome memento mori or best clinical practice? Community end-of-life anticipatory medication prescribing practice: a mixed methods observational study. Palliative Medicine 2022; 36(1): 95-104

    This study examined variability in how injectable anticipatory medications are prescribed in the primary care population and safety issues.

  3. Bowers B, Redsell S: A qualitative study of community nurses’ decision-making around the anticipatory prescribing of end-of-life medications. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2017; 73(10): 2385-2394

    This study was the first to identify that patients and families may have a limited awareness of the purpose of prescribed injectable anticipatory medications to manage end of life symptoms.


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