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Advance Healthcare Directive Code of Practice needed

Posted on: January 27th, 2016

Briefing doc devised by IHF and Forum on End of Life

The National Council of the Forum on End of Life and The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) are urging the Department for Health to develop a Code of Practice for healthcare professionals on Advance Healthcare Directives following the enactment of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act.

The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which includes a new provision to legislate for Advance Care Directives, was passed by the Oireachtas on December 17. Under the provision, an adult with capacity can make a legally binding statement, an Advance Healthcare Directive, and refuse any form of treatment. The Directive comes into effect if an adult loses capacity at some time in the future and is unable to make treatment decisions for themselves.

The IHF, together with the Forum, have created an explanatory briefing paper on Advanced Healthcare Directives, its function and the steps involved in making one. The form includes 12 key points of information and an in-depth Q&A section.

CEO of the IHF Sharon Foley, said, “We welcome the legislation, but the priority should be drawing up specific Codes of Practice now, as any delay could cause difficulty and confusion for both patients and healthcare professionals. We are asking the Department to develop a Code of Practice to support healthcare professionals to understand the new law, and for the HSE to initiate training for staff in the use of Advanced Healthcare Directives.

“This provision promotes the autonomy of the patient to make decisions about their future care. It removes any uncertainty about a person’s wishes  – allowing family members and medical staff a level of comfort that the care being provided is what that person would want if they still had the capacity to decide. Our briefing document provides a wealth of information on the legal and practical issues around creating an Advance Healthcare Directive and I’d encourage everyone to read it.”

The IHF’s Think Ahead form contains a valid Advanced Healthcare Directive and can be downloaded – along with the briefing paper – on www.thinkahead.ie Hard copies are also available from The Irish Hospice Foundation – contact 01 6793188 for more details.

12 key points on Advance Healthcare Directives (AHD)

  • Advance Healthcare Directives have been recognised in common law for some time but the new Act provides for a legislative framework
  • Under the new provision, a person aged 18 and over who has capacity can prepare an AHD
  • They must put their decisions on future medical treatment in writing and it must be witnessed
  • A person can revoke their AHD at any time in writing, providing the person still has capacity to do so.
  • No-one can be forced to create one
  • Having witnesses is designed to prevent people being forced to make certain decisions
  • You can nominate people who will be legally recognised as acting on your behalf at a time
  • when you lose capacity and can ensure your AHD is enforced
  • An AHD only comes into force when you have lost capacity and cannot make a decision
  • It helps healthcare professionals in caring for you the way you want
  • It helps families as it removes doubt about what care their loved one wanted
  • If there is any doubt about an AHD, a person can go to the courts
  • This is not euthanasia or assisted suicide. These acts are illegal in Ireland.

 

RIP Christy O’Connor Jnr – a wonderful supporter of hospice services

Posted on: January 6th, 2016

ChristyOConnorJnr

The Irish Hospice Foundation wishes to send their condolences to the family and friends of golfer Christy O Connor Jnr who has passed away.

Christy was a proud patron of The Irish Hospice Foundation’s National Nearest the Pin competition for nine years. He was passionate about raising funds for hospice services – having had first hand experience of the benefits of hospice care.

Christy’s brother received hospice care and the impact of this spurred Christy on to fundraise for hospice services.

The National Nearest the Pin competition in aid of the IHF ran for nine years – from 2005 to 2013 – and in that time over €200,000 was raised to support the work of the Foundation.

This money was used to support people at time of death and bereavement and was made possible by Christy and his desire to help those at such a vulnerable time in their lives.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

 

Taoiseach says issues relating to death, dying and loss continue to challenge us as he launches The Irish Hospice Foundation’s 2016 commemorative programme and 30th anniversary celebrations

Posted on: January 3rd, 2016

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD., says issues relating to dying, death and loss continue to challenge us as he launches The Irish Hospice Foundation’s (IHF) 2016 commemorative programme and 30th anniversary celebrations (December 3rd).

Members of the public are asked to engage with the IHFs year-long public engagement campaign on the difficult subjects of dying, death and bereavement which will form the basis for a Charter for End of Life.

In leading the national conversation the IHF plans to host a number of activities throughout 2016, including death cafés where members of the public eat cake and discuss their thoughts on death and dying.

Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who commissioned Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell to undertake a study on how Government Departments deal with death and bereavement said, “It is clear that despite the universal certainty of death and loss, the issues they present continue to challenge us – as individuals, as family members, as friends, as colleagues, as service providers, as policy makers and as legislators.”

Findings from the study will be launched later today – including recommendations on how Government Departments can improve their own response to dying, death and bereavement amongst their own workforce.

Data from 1916 and contemporary society show that in the year of the Easter Rising 71,391 people died compared to 29,092 people almost one hundred years on (2014 CSO figures). Child and premature mortality rates have dropped dramatically from 11,873 child deaths in 1916 to 287 in 2014. People are living longer, and due to the evolution of the modern hospice movement and the intervention of palliative care more people are dying with dignity and in comfort.

An Taoiseach commented, “It’s 100 years and no time at all in the history of a country since 1916. It is said that we live not just our own life but also the life of our times and I know that with The Irish Hospice Foundation’s 2016 campaign more of us will live and die with the kind of care, the quality of experience befitting our dignity, our humanity and our intrinsic value on this earth.”

CEO of the IHF, Sharon Foley said, “In recent years due to welcome advances in medical treatment and care options we have begun to think about dying, death and bereavement as someone else’s responsibility – something for healthcare professionals to fix or manage.  It is not the sole responsibility of the Department of Health, the HSE or any one service. We are all responsible.”

“Our campaign to open up conversations on end of life and respond to these vital concerns will help everyone play their part in ensuring that the experience of dying, death and bereavement in Ireland is as we would wish it to be for ourselves and for those we love.”

She continued, “As part of our 2016 commemorative programme we are accepting the Government’s invitation to ‘Remember, Reflect and Reimagine’ how the ideals of the Proclamation of the republic can be best met in modern society. We believe a better future can be imagined and made a reality – a future in which everyone can access the best care at end of life – be it medical, social, physical or spiritual  support.”

An Taoiseach added, “I commend The Irish Hospice Foundation for taking up this challenge – one which promises to engage the public on a topic common to us all – the challenges of living with, after and through dying, death and bereavement.”

“Speaking on behalf of Arthur Cox, Founding Partner of the campaign, Brian O’Gorman, Managing Partner said: “We are delighted to be a founding partner of The Irish Hospice Foundation’s A Way to Go Centenary Campaign. Dr Mary Redmond, our esteemed colleague, who died earlier this year, was the founder of The Irish Hospice Foundation. Arthur Cox looks forward to supporting the campaign in its work to make a real difference to the lives and deaths of thousands of people in Ireland.”

Johnny Shine, Networks Managing Director open eir said: “The Irish Hospice Foundation delivers vital support for the people who rely on their services and for the families whose lives are forever changed by the death of a loved one. This is a charity that has touched many of our employees and we are privileged to support the Foundation as they mark 30 years of service to Ireland. We wish them every success for their Centenary campaign throughout 2016.”

Shaun Murphy, Managing Partner with KPMG in Ireland, corporate sponsors of the campaign, said, “KPMG is proud to support the great work of The Irish Hospice Foundation. End of life issues confront families in Ireland in various ways and we hope that our involvement will help people get as much support as possible when they need it most.”

Newly enacted Bill is ground-breaking for Irish peoples’ human rights

Posted on: January 3rd, 2016

The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) and the National Council of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland welcome the enactment of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity)  Bill (Thursday, December 17th), hailing it as a ground-breaking and empowering piece of legislation.

Sharon Foley, CEO of The Irish Hospice Foundation said, “Replacing the Lunacy Act of 1871, the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will respect the rights of all individuals and will be particularly relevant for people previously excluded from making decisions on their own behalf.

“Advance healthcare directives enable Irish people to express preferences and plan for their future care in the event that they may be unable to speak for themselves. The legislation will protect the right to inherent dignity, right to privacy, bodily integrity, self-determination and autonomy. It will ensure that all people are treated on an equal basis and these rights are respected.”

Patricia Rickard-Clarke, former Law Reform Commissioner and a member of the National Council of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland, said that legislation for advance directives was a recommendation of the year-long public consultation carried out by the Forum in 2009-2010. The Law Reform Commission also called for this legislation back in 2008.

Welcoming the news, she commented, “This act provides a legislative policy framework which supports our work to enable people think about what they want for themselves at end of life – primarily through the Think Ahead programme (www.thinkahead.ie).”

Both the IHF and the National Council commend the Government for making this piece of legislation a priority, and Minister Kathleen Lynch for her leadership and determination in driving it forward.