The resources and good practice that we have created are rooted in evidence of their effectiveness.

why do we need evidence?

We are used to the idea of ‘evidence-based’ practice in health care. If you go into hospital for an operation you rightly want to know the possible risks and benefits of the procedure based on research evidence. We are much less used to thinking about evidence in relation to spiritual care, but it is just as important.

It is simply unethical to waste our own and other people’s time and energy doing something that at best will make no difference to them and at worst might do them some harm. In the area of death and dying there is a small but real risk of doing harm – of giving people false information, of opening up cans of worms that were better left shut, of taking insufficient care of our and their emotional vulnerabilities. Understanding these risks should not put us off this area of work; instead it should motivate us to ensure that we engage in best practice. And the basis for best practice is research evidence.

action research

The resources on this website have come out of a process documented in our peer-reviewed journals: Working with Older People and Practical Theology. It is an example of ‘action research’. Action research is used in the human sciences, especially in the areas of health and social care. It is:

  • Context-based, addressing real life problems
  • Aims at collaboration between participants and researchers
  • Sees diversity and complexity as enriching rather than messy
  • Generates new actions from its findings, which themselves lead to new research questions

Comments from research leaders

  • After the first week of a course, there was a sense of euphoria for me, just from that sense of liberation you felt from people and having been the one to facilitate that.
  • There was such an enthusiasm about attending that really made it worthwhile for me.
  • Some people were virtually moved to tears by the fact that a course had been put on for them.
  • It gave me insight into the sorts of things that trouble people on their own with no one to look out for their best interests.
  • It made me realise that we need to go deeper, we need to build into our life of the church supporting people, more so than just when they’re bereaved or terminally ill.
  • It’s made me realise that I’m on the same journey. It’s not just me leading a group of others, the same issues that I’m inviting others to engage with I engage with myself.
  • It’s made me more sure of things I thought I believed anyway but I’ve walked in it a bit more and I’m not afraid of death.
  • Having run an event, I think I’m more likely to be able to talk about death.

Comments from research participants

  • The talk on how you would like to be remembered helped to anchor me as a real person and not a pale shadow. Thank you for affirming my identity as a person.
  • It was helpful to discuss aspects of this sensitive subject openly, without embarrassment or reluctance, so often experienced in other situations.
  • It brought to mind many of the things, both practical and spiritual, that we should have been thinking about, and had tended to put off.
  • It was so good to talk about and share all of these things, mixing the practical, Bible notes, music, laughter and cake and tea.
  • You have most lovingly and effectively removed my underlying fear of dying.