During the visit, The Princess Royal, in her role as Chancellor of the University of London, met researchers, clinicians and patients at the CSI to understand how King’s research is improving people’s experience of life limiting conditions, death and dying.
The Princess Royal was accompanied by President & Principal of King’s, Professor Shitij Kapur, Professor Irene Higginson, Executive Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, Professor Richard Harding, Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute, Professor Richard Trembath Senior Vice President (Health & Life Sciences), and John McGrath, Chief Executive of Cicely Saunders International, plus other representatives from Cicely Saunders International.
We were delighted to welcome HRH Princess Royal to The Cicely Saunders Institute to showcase our research achievements in palliative care. In the twelve years since Her Royal Highness opened the CSI, King’s researchers have made a tangible difference to the lives of patients and families.– Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal of King’s
During the visit, Her Royal Highness met with colleagues whose research and clinical tools enable patients to die in places where they wish – most often at home, and to support those important to them, such as families.
She saw examples of the research that has found better ways to support older people to live in the community and to improve care for people with dementia. She also saw how the CSI is supporting capacity building and knowledge generation across the globe so more people can benefit from palliative care.
She paid tribute to clinicians who provided vital care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams from the CSI were vital in providing care in hospitals and in the community, as well as adding to the COVID-19 response in palliative care nationally and globally. Researchers at NMPC provided the first robust understanding of care and symptom management for people dying from COVID-19. These findings fed directly into national and international clinical networks, government, and public understanding.
During the visit, Her Royal Highness was also shown breathlessness support kits which have helped to lessen the feelings of distress and depression for this common symptom among people with advanced disease.
The Princess Royal opened the CSI in May 2010 as the world’s first purpose-built Institute for palliative care integrating research with clinical care and education. It is a designated WHO Collaborating Centre. The CSI is a partnership with the charity Cicely Saunders International and King’s College Hospital, and brings together a network of over 200 academics, healthcare professionals, community organisations, patients, and carers in one institute and acts as the hub for a network of international research. She was due to mark the 10-year anniversary of the CSI in 2020 but the visit was postponed due to the pandemic.
Professor Richard Harding, Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute, said: “The global need for palliative care will double by 2040 and our work at the Cicely Saunders Institute is focused with this in mind. The unique partnership housed within the CSI enables us to discover new ways to manage the most common and distressing problems faced by patients and families, to deliver them directly to those affected, to teach health and social professionals the latest evidence in palliative care, and to develop future leaders. We have achieved much in the last 10 years, and in partnership with patients and families we have directly influenced policy and practice. As we look ahead to the next 10 years, we must accelerate our activity to meet both current and future need for palliative care to ensure that we prevent unnecessary suffering.”
Professor Irene Higginson, Executive Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, said: “Palliative care puts the person before the disease. The CSI has made huge strides in improving care and treatment for so many people who need it, wherever they are cared for. But palliative care is still reaching too few people who need it and there is an international shortage of talented clinicians, researchers and educators. There is an urgent need to grow capacity and knowledge, so that palliative care can help more people. I hope to see that, with support from King’s and our partners, the CSI will make a major response to this challenge in the coming years.”