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A marketing campaign designed by seven Imperial students is inspiring the medical profession to rethink perceptions around end of life care.

Titled The Last Peace, the campaign encourages people of all ages to consider their plans for what happens during the last months or years of their life. Whilst the concept may seem unnecessary to some Dina Saleh, a 22 year old medical student, stressed the importance of such messages: “death, and dealing with death, isn’t a topic we cover in detail during our medical degrees. However, it is something my classmates experience first-hand whilst on placement.”

End of life care is a term that describes the treatment offered to seriously ill patients to improve quality of life whilst they live out their final months or years. This period of care also encompasses what happens after death, meaning that plans made could allow family members, carers and contacts to act on a patient’s behalf.

The group recognised the need for better communications whilst studying on the Intercalated BSc programme at the Business School. The programme offered to 4th year medical students complements scientific and clinical skills with business acumen. As part of the programme, students are asked to complete a group project on a healthcare related problem. It is during this project that the group decided to investigate end of life care, and more specifically, how they could work to remove the existing taboo around a stage of medical care that is so often overlooked.

“We are very passionate about this project,” said Dina. “We realise, from experience, that it is this facet of healthcare that is often forgotten. This is usually due to an unwillingness or awkwardness from our peers and family when it comes to discussing death. This perception is unsettling as it is something that will impact us all at some point.”

The group of students recently shared their project and research findings with doctors and healthcare professionals during a presentation at the King’s FundEnd of Life Innovation’ conference. The team highlighted the taboo evident in the healthcare industry, and presented their marketing campaign as a way to raise awareness. Explaining further, Dina said “We feel it is important to raise awareness in order to change the community’s perspective on end of life care. This will have wider social impact to minimise, as much as possible, the disruption caused following the passing of a loved one or friend.”

Reflecting on the presentation Dina shared that the team were “humbled by the great feedback received.” Following the positive response from the audience Dina explained that the group have been approached by a number of leading healthcare bodies who are interested in learning more about the campaign and ways that they can work together in sharing the message.

The group are working to have their campaign brought to fruition and will share their ideas further through speaking opportunities at the upcoming International Palliative Care Congress in Montreal and the Marie Curie Annual Research Conference.

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