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Latest Covid-19 Restrictions Will Impact The Elderly in Nursing & Care Homes

Posted on: October 20th, 2020

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has today welcomed the updated guidance from Government and NPHET on attending funerals but is calling on the Government to relook at visiting restrictions in nursing and care homes announced last night.

From midnight tomorrow night, nursing and care home visits will cease, except in critical and compassionate circumstances.

Sharon Foley, CEO of IHF says “We fully appreciate the need for social distancing and minimising the spread of Covid-19. Restrictions on visiting nursing and care home facilities have been in place since March and while they eased somewhat over the summer, going back to a point where the elderly, many of whom suffer cognitive impairment, are reduced to no visits will see a further decline in their quality of life and is a distressing development for families left to wonder how they are coping.”

“I would urge the Taoiseach and the Chief Medical Officer to look again at these particular measures and assist families and loved ones at a deeply distressing time.”


Bereavement support line Mon to Fri 10am to 1pm

Posted on: October 19th, 2020

Many people have experienced and will experience the death of someone they love during the COVID-19 pandemic. It may have been a COVID-related death or a death from other causes. People may also be finding a previous bereavement more difficult at this time.

While we may be seeing reductions in the number of deaths connected to COVID-19, we know that people’s pain and grief does not diminish as quickly. 

In the face of such loss and trauma, the Irish Hospice Foundation Bereavement Support Line, in partnership with the HSE, has been launched to provide connection, comfort and support, in these exceptional times.

COVID-19 restrictions have changed the traditional ways we mark our grief. For the moment, it is not possible to come together like we did traditionally. This means many people are facing bereavement in isolation.

What is the IHF Bereavement Support line?

It is a national freephone service 1800 80 70 77 which will be available from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.

  • We aim to provide a confidential space for people to speak about their experience or to ask questions relating to the death of someone during the COVID-19 pandemic or a previous bereavement that is more difficult at this time
  • We will listen to what a person says about what has happened
  • We will do our best to provide comfort and emotional support
  • We will provide any information that might help the caller, including information on practical supports.
  • We will provide support for employers or professionals who want to inform the care their organisation can offer to bereaved colleagues


The service is confidential. What you tell us will not be shared except in certain circumstances where, for safeguarding reasons, we may need to share your information with the emergency services. On the call, we might ask your first name, because it’s a natural question to ask in a conversation, but you don’t have to tell us if you prefer not to.

Further Information

Visit our FAQ section here

Can you help spread the word?

We would like as many people as possible in Ireland to know about this new free service. We have prepared a Bereavement Support Line information pack Please feel free to view/download/print out or forward this to anyone who may need it. Thank you.

The Irish Hospice Foundation is the national charity dedicated to death, dying and bereavement. For over 30 years, we have been working towards the best end-of-life and bereavement care, for all in Ireland. Bereavement affects us all and up to 300,000 Irish people can be bereaved each year. We offer an excellent source of information and services in bereavement as well as high-quality training for professionals and volunteers.

In response to COVID-19, we have set up our new Care & Inform hub on the Irish Hospice Foundation website which includes a new series of resources on grief and loss to support those who are bereaved in these exceptional times.

Please help the Irish Hospice Foundation to continue to support those facing end of life at this unprecedented time of need. Text IHF to 50300 to donate €4. Text costs €4. The Irish Hospice Foundation will receive a minimum of €3.60.
Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278

Helping children grieve during COVID-19 restrictions

Posted on: October 18th, 2020

Irish Hospice Foundation Statement on Dignity with Dying Bill, October 2020

Posted on: October 9th, 2020

Dublin, 9th October, 2020.

Irish Hospice Foundation Statement on Dignity with Dying Bill, October 2020

On Wednesday, the Dáil voted to progress the Dying with Dignity Bill to Committee stage, that work will begin to refine the proposed Bill.  

Irish Hospice Foundation believes all potential perspectives on the Bill need to be considered. There is a multiplicity of issues, and range of viewpoints regarding the Bill, and its implications for our society.  

We believe there has not yet been a sufficiently detailed and diverse debate in Ireland.  There are many national and international voices yet to be heard. We urge the Committee to seek out these voices, relevant case studies and international research, ensuring the debate is open, non-exclusionary, and further, that the Committee is a safe and effective space, for a wide range of views to be heard. 

Irish Hospice Foundation believes every person deserves a ‘good death,’ including that their pain and suffering is managed to the best extent possible. Every person facing dying, death and bereavement has to deal with many personal challenges. We want to ensure that they receive the optimal services, empathy and care. In the end, we all desire a solution which meets the needs of the Irish public, and which reflects the society we now live in.



Media Contacts:

Lynn Murtagh, Irish Hospice Foundation–  lynnmurtagh@hospicefoundation.ie or 085 1052058


Páraic Gallagher, Q4PR – paraic@q4pr.ie or 086 7749 300

Note to Editors:

Irish Hospice Foundation is a national charity that addresses dying, death and bereavement in Ireland. Our vision is an Ireland where people facing end of life or bereavement, and those who care for them, are provided with the care and support that they need. From advocacy and education, to services such as Nurses for Night Care and our Bereavement Support Line, Irish Hospice Foundation believes in the importance of dying well and grieving well wherever the place.

Visit our Covid-19 Care & Inform hub on end-of-life and bereavement care

Posted on: October 1st, 2020

We at the Irish Hospice Foundation want to keep you, the Irish public, as informed and supported as possible in matters relating to end-of-life and bereavement care in these exceptional times.

The need to provide reliable and up-to-date information for you, the public, and healthcare professionals is vital. With our many years of experience, we are responding with our depth of expertise, to respond to your needs at this critical time.

As Ireland’s only national charity dedicated to death, dying and bereavement, we have developed our Care & Inform information hub to respond to the COVID-19 emergency in an informative and compassionate way.

You can visit our Care & Inform hub here

Can you help us in these unprecedented times?

Posted on: September 25th, 2020
We want to continue supporting those facing end of life and bereavement at this unprecedented time of need, as well as providing guidance and advice for health and social care workers in these exceptional times.
Please help Irish Hospice Foundation to continue with this valuable work by texting IHF to 50300 to donate €4.
Text costs €4. Irish Hospice Foundation will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278
#IHFSupportingYou #COVID19Ireland #WeAreAllInThisTogether

How do we talk about death right now?

Posted on: September 25th, 2020

This week, to celebrate Positive Ageing Week we are launching our ‘Conversations over a Cuppa‘ series of resources to help you start talking with your nearest and dearest.

Conversations over a Cuppa is something we would like to encourage in every household in Ireland. Especially at the moment when death and illness feel closer to us and maybe we find ourselves thinking about it more often.

We hope it won’t happen to us, or those we love. Yet, the experiences of illness, death and dying are all around us. At any time, any one of us, our families or friends could be affected. It’s not a choice; it’s something that happens.

Conversations over a Cuppa is a series of four helpful and practical guides to support and encourage you to plan ahead, talk with others and offer practical support to those facing serious illness and end of life.

Read the first one here

Niamh Fitzpatrick launches book on grief and loss

Posted on: September 24th, 2020

niamh fitzpatrick book grief and loss

On 14th March 2017, Niamh Fitzpatrick’s life fell apart. Her beloved sister Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was killed in the crash of Rescue 116 off the coast of Mayo in the early hours of the morning. A psychologist for nearly thirty years, Niamh was forced to deal with the incomprehensible grief which followed, grief that she had helped clients through for years. In her new book ‘Tell Me the Truth About Loss’, Niamh writes with beautiful honesty about how she navigated her way through the initial shock, and how she continues to manage that loss to this day.

Bereavement is not the only loss which Niamh has suffered. In ‘Tell Me the Truth About Loss’ she also writes about her marriage breakdown shortly after Dara’s death, as well as how she coped with the grief related to her struggles with fertility. She interlaces her personal experience with advice for readers, making for a powerful and important read.

Drawing on everything she learned, first to survive and then, in time, to begin to thrive, ‘Tell Me the Truth about Loss’ is a psychologist’s journey through loss, grief and the worst of times, while finding hope along the way. A beautiful book for when life isn’t what you expect it to be.

A donation from the proceeds of this book will go to Irish Hospice Foundation.

Order from Easons.

Niamh spoke with Ryan Tubridy about her new book on The Late Late Show on Friday September 25th

Watch the interview here

COVID-19 is still with us: We must invest in the future of end-of-life and bereavement care

Posted on: September 11th, 2020

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Pre-Budget Submission 2021


  • Irish Hospice Foundation renews call for whole-of-Government strategy on end-of-life and bereavement care
  • Increase in numbers dying at home, more investment needed in this area in wake of COVID-19



Ahead of Budget 2021 next month, Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has renewed its call for a whole-of-government strategy for end-of-life and bereavement care in Ireland.

In its Pre-Budget 2021 Submission, published today, Ireland’s charity dedicated to death, dying and bereavement is asking the State to invest in healthcare infrastructure and adequately support end-of-life and bereavement services to ensure we, as a nation, respond correctly and compassionately to the issues that have arisen recently in the care of the dying and bereaved.

Since March, approxminately 16,500 people have died, with over 1700 of these COVID related. Continuing visiting restrictions and infection control measures across healthcare settings and the limit on numbers attending funerals are impacting on those receiving and delivering end-of-life care as well as on the grieving process for families, their extended social circles and healthcare workers.

Sharon Foley, CEO of the IHF said:

“We are still in the grip of COVID-19. The necessary national response has been – and is still – urgent. However, now that we are coming to live with COVID, we must meet the challenges presented by dying, death and bereavement in the wake of this pandemic. We have heard the distressing stories of how people were not able to visit with their relatives as they died in the past number of months.”

“No time can be lost in planning how we respond to this experience. The recommendations in our submission are practical steps to secure a shared future which takes into account the reality of our common humanity, mortality, care and grief.”

Embedding the best end-of-life and bereavement care in all care settings, investigating and responding to the cost of bereavement and long-overdue capital investment in infrastructure, underpin all seven IHF recommendations for Budget 2021 which were sent to Government earlier this summer.

They are:

  • Develop a whole-of-Government Strategy on End-of-Life Care
  • Renew the National dialogue on death, dying and bereavement
  • Plan Community Supports and Education on Bereavement
  • Establish a dedicated Programme of Work to improve end-of-life and palliative care in Nursing Homes
  • Enable people to die at home or place of preference
  • Facilitate dialogue and planning for End of Life
  • Introduce a new National Mortuaries Programme

Dying at Home

Demand for Nurses for Night Care (IHF funded) has risen over the past six months as more families dealing with the imminent death of a loved one at home needed supports during the night. The free national service allows people with non-cancer related illnesses to spend their final days at home. This year additional funding was provided for this vital service. However, the long-term commitment by the State to fund 50% of the service (as outlined in the HSE Palliative Care Framework) is still not in place. The total cost of the service is €3.2 million and a commitment of 50% funding of €1.6m is well overdue.

Most adults in Ireland say they want to die at home. It’s a simple vision; yet, anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests it is becoming rarer and harder to achieve. COVID-19 has strengthened the IHF belief that more can and should be done to enable people live and die at home. As a result, the organisation is also asking for government commitment to develop a statutory home care scheme to enable more people to remain at home towards the end-of-life, regardless of whether there is a family carer(s) in place. The provision of a statutory home care scheme, it says, should be considered essential post-COVID.

Nursing Homes

COVID-19 has also highlighted other areas of end-of-life and bereavement need – primarily in the community and generalist palliative care settings, such as residential care. At the time of writing, 56% of deaths from COVID-19 are in nursing homes.

IHF welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the recent COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel review. One of its recommendations included the development of a joint HSE / IHF collaborative national programme on palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care for the nursing home sector that engages all stakeholders and improves quality of care across the sector.

Head of Healthcare Programmes at IHF Siobán O’Brien Green said:

“This has been an incredibly distressing time for residents, families and staff in nursing homes and residential care settings. This is an experience that should not be repeated. We here at IHF are very willing to contribute our experience and expertise in the development of a dedicated national and sustained programme for the nursing home sector, which is now imperative. We urge Government to progress and invest in this initiative, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.”

A full copy of IHF Pre-budget submission is available here.

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Posted on: September 10th, 2020