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Ulster University heart failure research to identify experiences of bereaved caregivers

Professor Donna Fitzsimons Professor Donna Fitzsimons

Ulster University researchers are calling on local bereaved caregivers to share their personal experiences of caring for someone with heart failure as part of a major study that aims to help shape local health services.

The Ulster University research will give bereaved caregivers an opportunity to share their personal experiences with researchers, doctors and nurses, in a confidential format. In doing so they will also provide a better understanding of how they felt and coped during the final chapter of their loved one's life and what more could be done to help them. The research is being funded by the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care and is jointly undertaken in the Belfast Trust, South Eastern Trust and St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

Figures suggest that there are over 14,000 people with heart failure in Northern Ireland and 26 million people diagnosed world-wide, most of whom are usually cared for at home by loved ones and family members.

Ulster University's Professor Donna Fitzsimons explains: "Heart failure is a debilitating and life limiting condition that places great stress on patients, caregivers and healthcare systems. We know that patients have high levels of symptoms and reduced quality of life, but to date the needs of carers have been largely unexplored.  

"This new Ulster University research is essential if we are to address unmet needs in not only patients with heart failure but their caregivers too. We have already collected data from patients and those currently caring for loved ones, but bereaved caregivers hold vital information about the final chapter of this illness.

"We want to discover more about their needs and experiences to help determine ways to improve care. It is time to ease the strain and by participating in our research, those who have been bereaved can help inform future healthcare services, improve end of life care in heart failure and champion equality of care for all."

If you are aged 18 years or older and have cared for a loved one who has died from heart failure and would like more information on participating in this research please contact: Dr Mary Murphy or Professor Donna Fitzsimons on telephone 028 95049911 or email: Murphy-M31@email.ulster.ac.uk