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About us

Meet the RealTalk Team

Professor Ruth Parry

Professor of Human Communication and Interaction, National institute of Health Research Career Development Fellow, Loughborough University

Ruth started her professional career in NHS physiotherapy, specialising in healthcare of older people. Ruth then moved into a research career, specialising in video-based conversation analytic research on healthcare communication. Initially, Ruth worked mainly on physiotherapy communication, currently works on palliative and end of life care communication. Ruth specialises in studying how people communicate about difficult, sensitive issues, and on how empathy and dignity are actually enacted in practical ways through how we communicate. Ruth is particularly keen on making conversation analytic perspectives and research findings more available and accessible to healthcare practitioners and educators. Her work is currently funded by an National Institute of Health Research Fellowship.

View Ruth’s Publications

Becky Whittaker

Palliative and End of Life Care Coach and Mentor / Communication Skills Trainer

Becky is a Registered Nurse with extensive clinical experience in leadership and care delivery in palliative and end-of-life care across a range of settings, including the NHS and voluntary sector. Becky is an experienced educator and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and her work focuses primarily on communication skills in end of life care, engaging practitioners in end-of-life inter-professional learning and building proefesisonal well-being and resilience.  Becky was Project Development Manager with the RealTalk team for three years and worked with the team to deliver a series of Train the Trainer workshops in May and June 2021.

View Becky’s Publications

Dr Marco Pino

Lecturer in communication and social interaction at Loughborough University

Marco studies end-of-life communication in hospice care using an approach called conversation analysis. Working with other members of the RealTalk team Marco has examined the ways in which hospice doctors engage patients in conversations about the end of life; as well as ways in which hospice patients request information about their prognosis, and ways in which doctors respond. Marco is currently involved in a study of patients’ cues about end-of-life concerns. He also researches communication within bereavement support and in other social and healthcare settings.

View Marco’s Publications

Dr Laura Jenkins

Research Fellow, Loughborough University

Laura is a communication scientist who uses conversation analysis to better understand the way we interact in everyday and medical settings. Her research within neurology, paediatrics and palliative care highlights strategies for engaging patients and supporting them to describe complex sensations. She identifies obstacles to good communication, awkward moments and mix-ups, and successful techniques for managing and avoiding these pitfalls.

Working with other members of the RealTalk team, Laura has studied the ways in which hospice doctors ask patients questions about their pain. She has also examined the use of pain scales, and how doctors skilfully handle moments when pain scales end up leading to misunderstandings. She is author of the two RealTalk modules relating to aspects of pain assessment and management.

View Laura’s Publications

Dr Victoria Land

Senior Research Fellow, Loughborough University

Victoria is a communication scientist with a keen interest in healthcare communication, particularly in relation to decision-making and patient participation. Currently, Victoria is using conversation analysis to explore patients’ use of cues which may index end-of-life and how healthcare practitioners respond to these. Previously, her conversation analytic research examined end-of-life decision-making in interactions between palliative medicine consultants and patients in a hospice setting.

In two systematic reviews and one rapid review, Victoria has analysed and synthesised communication practices relevant to palliative care. The systematic reviews focused on how practitioners communicate with patients about difficult and uncertain future issues and on identifying communication practices that encourage and constrain shared decision-making in healthcare encounters. Recently, as part of a team, she undertook a rapid review of clinical practices for talking about end-of-life and illness progression.

Victoria’s interest in healthcare communication also extends to interactions during labour and childbirth.

View Victoria’s Publications

Professor Christina Faull

Consultant in palliative medicine and Research lead at LOROS, Honorary Professor at University of Leicester

Christina was a co-applicant for the original grant from The Health Foundation and continues as a member of the VERDIS project team.

Christina provides clinical expertise and insight to design, analysis and dissemination of findings. Christina is involved in the education of a wide range of professionals supporting them to develop skills in effective communication to provide high quality care and address the needs of patients and their families.

Sharan Watson

Post Graduate Lecturer, University of Derby / Communication Skills Trainer

Sharan teaches in palliative and end of life care, communication skills, advanced practice, and non-medical prescribing and Chairs the Derbyshire Alliance for End of Life Care. Sharan is a facilitator for Real Talk communication resources, as well as being an advisory member of the VERDIS team, a facilitator for Advanced Communication skills and Sage & Thyme Communications Skills. Sharan’s nursing background has predominantly been working as a Macmillan Matron, Community Matron and End-of-Life Care facilitator. Sharan has an ongoing interest in the evidence around impacts of training and education on the confidence/competence of learners. Drawing all experience and skills together, Sharan is an Expert Adviser for the NICE Centre for Guidelines in Adult Palliative Care.