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Sign up for our first Golf Classic

Posted on: July 29th, 2014

Want to enjoy a great day of golf, in beautiful surroundings for a great cause?

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Join us on Thursday September 18th at the Royal  Dublin Golf Club for the first Irish Hospice Foundation     


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Taoiseach urges people to Think Ahead and plan for End of Life

Posted on: July 17th, 2014

Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and IHF CEO Sharon Foley at the the launch of Phase Two of Think Ahead



TAOISEACH Enda Kenny today (Thursday) launched phase two of Think Ahead, an initiative which encourages people to plan for end of life by recording their wishes in the event of an emergency, serious illness or death.

Developed by the Forum on End of Life in Ireland, a project of the Irish Hospice Foundation, (IHF), Think Ahead urges people to Think, Talk, Tell, and recordand review their personal preferences for future medical, financial and personal care.

Currently available as a printed form, the IHF announced that agreement has been reached with Patients Knows Best, the world’s first patient-controlled, online medical records system to pilot ‘Think Ahead online’ in Ireland as part of phase two of the initiative. This will allow people record, store and retrieve their end of life wishes and care preferences, including their medical records, online behind a securer server.

A pilot of ‘Think Ahead online’ is to be funded by Third Age, a voluntary community organisation which aims to promote the resources of older people.

Speaking at today’s launch the Taoiseach welcomed the next phase of Think Ahead. He said: "Above all Think Ahead is empowering. It puts the person who is ill at the centre of operations, making sure their end-of-life care is as close to their wish as possible. For our part in Government, we are committed to providing a framework where people’s wishes around end-of-life care can be met, including the legislation providing for Advanced Care Directives which is currently being advanced.  Of course, Think Ahead encompasses more than care preferences; this valuable tool also covers other issues like legal and financial matters, organ donation and funeral arrangements.”  

Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chair of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland, said while dying and death can be difficult and daunting topics, end of life care is an important discussion that we all should have with our loved ones.

“Think Ahead is a valuable guide for people planning their financial and legal affairs. It helps prevent shock, avoid confusion and gives control, choice and peace at the end.”

“Not enough people have a pension or have made a will. Fewer still have taken the time to decide who they would like to be contacted in the event of an emergency, or how to make important decisions known to their loved ones. Our ambition is that every citizen in Ireland will use Think Ahead as an important planning tool.”

Sharon Foley, CEO of the IHF, said everyone has the right to a say in their care at all times, including end of life. “But we also have the responsibility to let other people know our decisions and this is where Think Ahead can help."

“Open and honest discussion about death and dying can ensure that someone's wishes for end of life are known and respected. It can also support those they love through bereavement.”

She described the roll out of Think Ahead online as a “very exciting development”.

Phase One of Think Ahead was launched in 2011 by An Taoiseach. Think Ahead 2 is a revised form which is slimmer and more accessible than the original. The biggest change is a section allowing users create an Advance Healthcare Directive, reflecting changes currently proposed in draft legislation.

The form was revised after consultation with a wide variety of different groups and individuals including legal and healthcare professionals. One important source of feedback in revising Think Ahead was research conducted by Dr Brendan O’Shea on the use of Think Ahead in General Practice, published in the Irish Medical Journal in May 2014. Dr. O’Shea made a presentation on his research at today’s launch which showed that 86% who took part felt that Think Ahead should be used more widely.  83% said they had discussions on end-of-life planning with family members after reading Think Ahead.

Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, founder and CEO of Patients Know Best which will do an online pilot of Think Ahead in Ireland said at today’s launch:  “Patients Know Best is delighted to add a digital version of Think Ahead's work within its patient-controlled medical records. The feedback on Think Ahead from a variety of users was full of praise – the end of life care planning forms are easy to understand, simple to use and useful in that they help patients and their families become more prepared.

“We’re very pleased to provide end of life care planning functionality to all Irish citizens and to our customers across seven other countries. We too believe that everyone should Think Ahead."

Patients Know Best is a fully secure online tool which enables patients to better organise, manage and control their own health care provisions.

Áine Brady, CEO of Third Age which is funding the development of the online version of Think Ahead through PKB said: “We are delighted to support the further development of Think Ahead so it can be made available online. It will be an important resource for SAGE, the Support & Advocacy Service for Older People, which we are currently developing with the HSE and Atlantic Philanthropies.


The ‘Think Ahead' form can be downloaded from www.thinkahead.ie.




Posted on: July 15th, 2014

Don’t miss out on this fantastic cycle event this September 27th! 


 This year is the 26th West Clare Cycling Club Loop Head Charity Cycle – known as Loop The Loop!

The cycle around west Clare’s stunning Loop Head peninsula contrasts the picturesque Shannon estuary coast with the majestic, rugged Atlantic coastline whist also visiting the famed Loop Head Lighthouse which is the centre piece of the cycle. An event not to be missed!

For more information or to Register for this event visit www.looptheloop.ie

The charities benefiting will be the Irish Hospice Foundation and Cahercalla Community Hospital & Hospice in Ennis. 

About the Event & Cycling in Clare

“We are sure this will become one of the foremost mass cycling sportives in the country. We have long known that the Loop Head Peninsula is a world class destination for cyclists with its quiet roads and tranquil settings. Cyclists taking part in this event will not only enjoy the stunning coastal scenery but will also be completely entranced by the welcome the peninsula community shows to all visitors. This is all part of the responsible tourism ethos that has seen Loop Head win the Irish Times 2013 best place to holiday award.” 

-          Cillian Murphy, chairman of Loop Head Tourism.

IHF welcomes Dáil Committee report calling for development of national end of life strategy

Posted on: July 15th, 2014

The Irish Hospice Foundation, (IHF), today welcomed the report from the Dail Committee on Health and Children calling for the development of a national strategy on palliative care, end of life and bereavement.


Chief Executive Officer of the IHF, Sharon Foley, said she hoped the government will act on the findings of the report and put palliative and end of life care at the top of health and other policy agendas. She commended the Dail Committee chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD, and members for the hearings saying “a great service” had been done for the country.


Ms Foley said on average 29,000 people die in Ireland each year and as many as 290,000 are left bereaved annually.  Using international research, there is an estimated €1.3 billion being spent on end of life care every year, but this spend is largely unplanned and uncoordinated.


“We passionately believe that much more can be done to support the health and social services to deliver better end of life care everywhere and this report is a major step in this direction.”


“It is the right of every person to die in comfort and dignity but this is something we must plan for. It is possible to secure high quality care for those facing death while also ensuring the very best use of resources. A national strategy on palliative care, end of life and bereavement, as recommended in todays report, will play a key role in ensuring this.”


Ms Foley said this strategy must be for the entire population – from those who need GP support to those who need special palliative care to manage their pain and other complex symptoms and to those left behind and facing grief. The strategy, she stressed, needs to be relevant to patients of all ages with all conditions including dementia.


“It also needs to be wider than healthcare. It needs to look at the economic, administrative and legal issues including the funeral industry and bereavement.”


Ms Foley also welcomed the committee recommendation that the Government address the regional disparities which exist in the provision and funding of specialist palliative care services in Ireland.


“As many as 2,500 patients have no access to in-patient hospice care in their area as they don’t exist. We have three regions in Ireland with no in patient hospice units – the north east, the midlands and the south east, as well as Kerry, Wicklow and Mayo.  Citizens are living and dying with an inequitable system. We have approximately 150 hospice beds today but we should have 450 and we also have significant deficits in hospice staff. “


Ms Foley said more need to be done to help people fulfil their wish to die at home. Figures show that while 67 per cent of us would prefer to die at home only 26 per cent of us will do so while another 25 per cent will die in long stay settings. “Lots of good work is being done through the IHF Primary Palliative Care programme, the Hospice home care teams and national hospice homecare for children programme.  In the latter, we we are funding 85% of the programme which is supporting families to care for children, with life limiting illness, at home.”


“This report, along with the recent report by the Ombudsman on end of life, will make a serious contribution to the national conversation on death and dying and bereavement and I warmly welcome it.”


Note: Link to Oireachtas Committee report on End of Life launched today http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/oireachtasbusiness/committees_list/health-and-children/reports/


IHF calls for extension of emergency medical card for people approaching end of life from six to 12 months

Posted on: July 2nd, 2014




THE IRISH Hospice Foundation, (IHF), is calling for an extension from six to 12 months of the eligibility period for the emergency medical card for people who are approaching the end of life.

In its submission to the expert group reviewing the emergency medical card system the IHF says it very much supports the current provision of medical cards without means test to those who are nearing the end of life.

However it says it is concerned that the current focus on specific conditions will overlook those who may not fit easily into any diagnosis, but for whom life expectancy is still limited, including older people who are becoming increasing frail.

It also wants particular sensitivities surrounding the applications for emergency medical cards for children to be looked at.

The expert group, established last month to review the emergency medical card system, is to recommend which medical conditions should automatically qualify for a medical card.

Currently people who are terminally ill and approaching end of life are entitled to a medical card for a six month period without means test, once the prognosis is certified by a medical practitioner.

The IHF believes that this review may also provide an opportunity to amend and, if possible, improve the process to take account of potential information gaps and to address sensitivities in cases where renewal of the card is required, including an extension of the eligibility period to 12 months.

The IHF says an estimated one in five patients who get medical cards on this basis live beyond six months - and that the renewal process may be  upsetting for patients and their families.

“The renewal process where required should be handled sensitively with the certifying doctor being contacted for an update rather than a means test form being issued to the medical card holder as occasionally happens.”

“The IHF would recommend that HSE assurances in this regard would be made known to the qualifying patients and their healthcare team.”

In its submission the IHF also says that information on the availability of medical cards granted on terminal illness grounds needs to be made available on the HSE and other relevant websites in a form readily accessible to the general public.

It points out that there is no mention of the emergency medical card on terminal illness ground on the HSE website currently, with the result that people who would qualify but who do not have the services of a medical social worker or palliative care attendant may not be aware of their entitlement.

IHF Chief Executive Sharon Foley said the current provision of medical cards without means test for people who are approaching end of life is appropriate, compassionate and cost effective.

But she said the review must be used as an opportunity to amend and improve the process and fill gaps and address sensitivities.