The Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life (ICEOL) is founded on the conviction that good care for the dying and the grieving includes sophisticated medical expertise and technology as well as business efficiency, but also goes far beyond, finding its basis in the virtues of charity and compassion. When death is seen as a medical episode, care of the dying is too often isolated solely as the responsibility of the medical system and death is seen as a failure; but when death is recognized as a basic part of life, care for the dying remains integral to the lives of families, friends, and community members. If we hope to recover the practice of dying well, we must attend to the complexities of the social, cultural, moral, theological, public policy, medical and economic issues involved in living and dying.
The institute was created to address and draw attention to these complexities. Its mission is to promote the growth of knowledge and rediscover old wisdoms concerning care for the dying, synthesizing both to better care for the whole person at life’s end. The institute catalyzes industry transformation and is a global resource to improve the delivery and quality of healthcare for people with advanced and life-limiting illness. ICEOL’s primary focus is interdisciplinary research and scholarship, and translating the results into curriculum and teaching, policy and advocacy, products and resources, and clinical services in partnership with others. The institute, based in the Divinity School, draws together Duke scholars from the Medical Center, the College of Arts and Sciences and other schools of the university. Reaching beyond Duke, the institute collaborates with national and international leaders in the public and private sectors and academia who are working to improve care.
The institute provides opportunities for students to gain practical experience in min-istry at the end of life, and funds scholarships for students who are focused on care at the end of life in theology and medicine, pastoral theology, and clinical pastoral education. The institute also coordinates educational symposia, develops end-of-life curricula, and supports visiting scholars and convenes leaders. Through its research grants program, the institute funds innovative research scholarship in theology, pastoral care, palliative and end-of-life care, particularly focused on the spiritual dimensions of the dying experience.
The institute is dedicated to learning how best to meet the needs of care for those with advanced illness all communities, including diverse and vulnerable, underserved groups. Public education is a vital component of all the institute’s programs, as the institute is committed to enhancing meaningful public dialogue about the complex issues surrounding care.