Dr. Helena Dunbar has been awarded the prestigious Winston Churchill Fellowship in hopes of revolutionizing end-of-life care for juveniles and their parents.
Dr. Helena Dunbar is an Associate Professor and researcher at De Montfort University´s (DMU) Leicester School of Nursing and Midwifery. And an advocate for improving children’s end of life care.
“It is a heartfelt desire of mine to make a difference to children’s palliative care in the UK,” said Dr Dunbar. “When you are looking after children who have life-limiting conditions, who may die before they reach adulthood, the smallest things can make such a difference.
Taking on many professional end of life care roles, Dunbar was a former consultant nurse for children’s respiratory diseases at University Hospitals Leicester (UHL) and completed her PhD at Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People in the East Midlands (2013 – 2017).
During her PhD time, she explored how patients and their families felt being in a place that is typically perceived as a clinical environment for end-of-life care. Speaking to parents and children at the hospice, she learned about what families needed to feel at home in the space and was able to create a framework highlighting the most important elements a hospice can provide. Resulting in a research paper ¨‘Place bonding’ in children’s hospice care: a qualitative study¨ and the Rainbows hospice renovating their lobby and creating an outreach model to build relations between staff and families outside of the hospice environment.
Winston Churchill Fellowship
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust runs the Churchill Fellowships, which is a non academic grant, that is awarded to any UK adult who has the potential to become a beneficial changemaker.
The selected participants are then able to travel, for 4-8 weeks, anywhere in the world, in search of innovative solutions, with global leaders in their field, for today’s most pressing problems. Upon their return the foundation will help them share their global learning with professions and communities across the UK.
Dr. Dunbar is one of the 141 that were awarded the fellowship this year. Over the course of five weeks, Dr. Dunbar will travel to Canada, visiting Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. A similar selection to this year’s American Fullbright Scholar who will be studying Canada’s end-of-life regulations and policy.
¨I chose Canada because it has a lot of different kinds of palliative programs – they have built new hospices off-site and dedicated hospices next to hospitals. They also deliver a lot of outreach work, so I want to compare all of these models.¨ Dr. Dunbar said
She will also be visiting universities to see how they integrate palliative care into education and training programs since in the UK there is a continued concern over the national shortage in the workforce for palliative care professionals and a lack of education, training, and development opportunities specific to the field. Even though the number of people using palliative care in the future will only grow.
Dr. Dunbar hopes: “that through the Winston Churchill Fellowship, I will be able to develop a suite of training and online teaching to help student nurses and other health professionals understand the importance of palliative and end-of-life care for children, which they can carry forward into their professional careers and provide families with the care they need.”