Research and Innovation

At the Centre for Education & Research, our Research and Innovation team are dedicated to advancing knowledge and transforming the landscape of palliative and end of life care through rigorous research and service-evaluation.

Patient, family and community-led research

To ensure our Research and Innovation at the Hospice is truly focused on the needs of our patients, their families, and our community, we have established a Hospice User Group. This group of service users and volunteers provides feedback and advice on emerging research topics, survey tools, and new service designs. If you would be interested in learning more about this group, you can download our HUG flyer here.

Why research matters

Despite the nature of hospice care, and the multiple challenges that people who are using our services face, we know from published literature that participation in research is often really valued by our participants.

For example, it can provide direct health and well-being benefits to the research participant themselves, or provide them with a sense of purpose and reward by potentially benefiting others in the future. We are proud to offer research participation opportunities to people who access our services.

Where do we conduct our research?

We conduct our research wherever is the most appropriate location to explore the issue under investigation. We currently have studies running in our Inpatient Unit, our patient services, and our community. We regularly conduct population-based surveys in our geographical area and are fortunate to have a large number of research collaborators across our region.

How is our research funded?

Our research and service evaluation is predominantly funded by charitable donations. We are extremely grateful for this support.

We receive a small contribution from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to support clinicians in the recruitment of research participants to NIHR clinical trials, and for a member of our Research and Innovation team to support other hospices in our region to become research active.

What is the impact of our research?

Dorothy House recognises the benefits and importance of research, as an equal partner alongside clinical practice and education in the delivery of excellent hospice care for patients and their families.  A research active environment supports and promotes evidence-based practice, improved patient outcomes, and staff retention and recruitment.

Current research projects

We are currently running NIHR Clinical Trials and a number of research projects focused on enhancing patient care, understanding the needs of our community, and improving end of life care for those living with Dementia in Care Homes.

Below, you can learn more about a selection of our current research projects


This study is led by the University of Surrey. To assess whether giving fluids to patients in the last days of via a drip (clinically-assisted hydration / CAH) is effective at preventing them from developing delirium / terminal agitation. Dorothy House were randomised to usual care.

VR Project

Using Virtual Reality to Aid Patient Wellbeing Within the Day Hospice and at Home.

Cross Hospice Survey

Survey to ascertain the research priorities of 6 hospices in our region based on the James Lind Alliance Palliative Care Research Priorities. Data analysis in progress.

Community Engagement Collaboration

Working in collaboration with the NIHR Clinical Research Network, Bath City Farm and Bath City Football Foundation we are co-hosting 3 community engagement events to rasie the profile of pallaitve and end of life care, and research in this context.

Intimacy Study Qualitative Work

This exploratory qualitative study is explotring the intimacy needs of patients at end of life, and of their partners. Qualitative semi-structured interviews are conducted with patients, partners of patients, and with bereaved partners. Hospice staff and contracted volunteers are also invited to participate in interviews.

Improve Care For Those With Dementia In Care Homes

University of Bath PhD in collaboration with Dorothy House and the Research Institute for the Care of Older people, to improve care for those with dementia living in care homes.

Bristol Robotics Collaboration

UWE Bristol Robotics are collaborating with Dorothy House to participate in a study that looks at socially assistive robots among older adults, the objective is to better understand the needs of older adults and how a companion robot can help support them in their daily lives.

Education and Research Excellence in Hospice Care: Our Team

Our Research team is a dynamic group conducting interdisciplinary exploration, cutting-edge research, and meaningful collaborations.

Members of our Research team have current or previous substantive academic roles at the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bath. Find out more about our team below.

Education and Research Excellence in Hospice Care

Professor Candy McCabe-Head of Education and Research

Candy joined Dorothy House in 2019 and is a clinical academic nurse, also working at the University of the West of England as a Professor of Clinical Research and Practice. She has previously delivered clinical care, established and run national clinical services, and led national and international research for people with long term conditions and complex pain. It is important to Candy that research topics are driven by patient identified need and the outcomes of that research directly improve care.

Dr Ali Llewellyn – Research Manager

Ali is a Chartered Psychologist and a member of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology. She joined Dorothy House in 2020 as Research Manager, working alongside her academic role as Associate Professor – Clinical Research at the University of the West of England where she leads an End of Life and Palliative Care Research Theme. The focus of her role at Dorothy House is research management, policy and governance; however, she also supports a variety of service evaluation and improvement projects and supervises research placement students.

Dr Kate Sugar - Hospice Researcher

Kate is an experienced social science researcher with ten years research exposure within higher education having previously held Research Associate positions at the University of Bath and the University of Cambridge.  Kate’s research interests include; behavioural operations management, social and community entrepreneurship, human and corporate engagement with social and environmental issues, cyber-security and technology.  Kate is currently working with clinical and non-clinical staff and volunteers on service implementation, evaluation, and improvement at Dorothy House.

Claire Prendergast – Research Nurse

Prior to Dorothy House, Claire worked as a Senior cardiothoracic research nurse at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust. Passionate about evidence based practice she is responsible for research delivery, assessing NIHR portfolio studies, feasibility, set-up and recruitment. Claire is also the hospice research link nurse for the South West Clinical Research Network.  Claire also supports the team with the education programme.

Charlotte Spence – Research Coordinator

Charlotte started at Dorothy House in May 2018, initially joining as an administrator within the Clinical Coordination Team at the Hospice before joining the Research Team at the end of September 2020.

Opportunities for Research and Innovation collaborations and partnerships

We are fortunate to work with a wide number of research collaborators, within our geographical region and further afield. If you would be interested in working with us, or think we could help support the delivery of your research, then please do get in touch. We maintain close collaborations with both organisations and regularly host undergraduate and postgraduate University research placements. We would be delighted to hear from you if this would be of interest.

Phone: 01225 722 988