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New Bereavement Support Line launches today

Posted on: June 9th, 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.

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.
Read more about the Bereavement Support Line

NEW CYCLE CHALLENGE LAUNCHED IN AID OF IRISH HOSPICE FOUNDATION

Posted on: June 5th, 2020

202020 Cycle for IHF

SPONSOR a cyclist

The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) Cycle Challenge is the charity’s biggest annual fundraising event.

Each year 60 cyclists take on a 600km cycle to raise vital funds for Nurses for Night Care. This free national service enables people with non-cancer related illnesses to spend their final days at home whilst receiving professional palliative nursing care. The demand for this service increases each year and the funds raised by cyclists have been vital in helping to keep up with demand.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Cycle Challenge, due to take place in Italy, is not going ahead. This will leave a huge gap in funding this vital service. Knowing this, one of the IHF’s loyal cyclists has set a different challenge.

Now, the IHF is calling on everyone to get on their bike and be a part of a special team challenge this year – simply cycle 20km on 20th June and donate €20.

Paul Kimmage and daughter Evelyn are the ambassadors for the IHF Cycle Challenge. Speaking about this new fundraising effort, Paul said: “On all my journeys with the IHF, I have heard many poignant and touching stories from my fellow cyclists about these inspirational nurses and the care they provide at the end of life. The gift of a peaceful and comfortable final chapter for our loved ones is one we all would love to give, especially in these uncertain and challenging time. In supporting this new IHF Cycle Challenge, by taking part or through raising funds, we will help to make this possible for more and more families.”

The Kingspan-sponsored Cycle has raised over €2 million for the IHF since it started in 2009. Over 4,500 families have been cared for by the Nurses for Night Care service with over 13,000 nights of care delivered since it was established.

IHF CEO Sharon Foley said: “These are challenging times for us all and even more so, given much of our fundraising activity has now been curtailed due to the necessary public health restrictions. The money raised through the IHF Cycle each year, makes such a huge difference to people and their families all over Ireland. Nurses for Night Care continues to operate during the pandemic, which means people are still able to spend their precious final days at home. 90% of Irish Hospice Foundation funding comes directly from the public which means we couldn’t do what we do (like funding Nurse for Night Care) without you.”

Any pedal power counts – bicycle, electric bike, static bike the choice is yours. Even more, you might encourage 20 friends to sponsor you or take up the challenge themselves.

It’s simple – 20km – 20th June 2020.

For more information and to take part go here or email louise.mccarron@hospicefoundation.ie

New IHF survey: Majority of Irish people believe we need to rethink how we deal with death and grief

Posted on: May 20th, 2020

68% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS MADE IRISH SOCIETY RETHINK THE WAY IT DEALS WITH DEATH AND BEREAVEMENT

– New Irish Hospice Foundation survey also shows 89% say being together with extended family and friends is a key part of grieving porocess.

– Indepth policy document on dying, death and bereavement presented to political parties as government formation talks continue.

Wednesday 20 May, 2020
The Irish Hospice Foundation is today publishing a survey of Irish people’s attitudes around death and bereavement which shows a majority of people believe the current COVID-19 pandemic has made us rethink how we deal with dying, death and bereavement.

The survey, conducted by B&A for the Foundation shows:

  • 68% agree the current pandemic has made Irish Society rethink the way it deals with death and bereavement
  • 10% think we talk too much about death, while 34% think we don’t talk about it enough
  • 89% say that being together with extended family and friends is a key part of the grieving process
  • 55% of people say they struggle to know what to say to someone who is bereaved or to know how to support them (this rises to 77% among those under 34 years of age)
  • 29% believe there are not enough supports available in Ireland for those who have been bereaved – with 27% believing there are enough such supports

Read the complete survey here

Chief Executive of the Irish Hospice Foundation, Sharon Foley said:

“We know from our work over 30 years that Irish people want a society where death and bereavement is openly talked about and not hidden away, where people can die with dignity and that supports and services are in place for end of life and for loved ones who are bereaved. This opinion poll shows us that more than two-thirds believe the COVID-19 pandemic is making us rethink how we deal with dying and bereavement. This supports our belief from decades of experience and our learning from the COVID-19 pandemic that death, dying and bereavement is truly everyone’s business and requires a comprehensive national response.”

The research also showed a significant impact from COVID-19 with measures introduced restricting the numbers at funerals. 89% of people said that being with extended family and friends is key to grieving.

Sharon Foley added:

“We know that grieving in isolation has resulted in doubtless suffering for many individuals and families. That is why we have written to the National Public Health Emergency Team calling on them to increase the number of people allowed to attend funerals while maintaining social distancing and other public health measures.”

 

The Irish Hospice Foundation says the results also highlight the need for further resources and supports for people to deal with death and bereavement. We have gone some way towards addressing this with the development of our ‘Care & Inform’ online hub during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bringing together our decades of work in the sector and our most recent learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish Hospice Foundation has also today published a new policy document on dying, death and bereavement.

COVID-19 | What we have learnt | A best practice policy framework for dying, death and bereavement

The document has been sent to all political parties and outlines the key steps that a new government can take to ensure that policies and supports for death and bereavement are considered in formation talks.

The seven policy pillars outlined by the Irish Hospice Foundation are:

  • 1. Develop a whole of government strategy to end of life care
  • 2. Renew a national dialogue on dying, death and bereavement
  • 3. Plan community supports on bereavement
  • 4. Establish end-of-life and palliative care services in nursing homes
  • 5. Enable people to die at home or their place of preference
  • 6. Facilitate dialogue and planning for end of life
  • 7. Introduce a new national mortuaries programme

Best practice policy framework for dying death bereavement Seven Pillars

Sharon Foley added:

“The Irish Hospice Foundation believes that, in post COVID-19 Ireland, there is now an opportunity to equip all of our state services – including health and social care – to meet the challenges presented by the aftermath of this pandemic.

“All of us in the voluntary and statutory sectors, along with the wider public now have a responsibility to shape the future of dying, death and bereavement in Ireland. One of the main challenges is a whole of government response – to coordinate, replicate, progress and embed innovative, evidence-based solutions to issues which arise in care of the dying and the bereaved.”

Read May 2020 Survey of Irish people’s attitudes around death and bereavement

Read COVID-19 | What we have learnt | A best practice policy framework for dying, death and bereavement

Read The IHF People’s Charter on Dying, Death and Bereavement in Ireland

IHF URGES PEOPLE TO CONSIDER ADVANCE HEALTHCARE PLANNING

Posted on: May 13th, 2020

COVID-19 HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR PEOPLE TO THINK ABOUT THEIR FUTURE CARE

{Tuesday 12 May 2020}: The Irish Hospice Foundation is urging people to examine their options for Advance Healthcare Planning, especially surrounding preferences for treatment.

The concept of planning ahead for life and death is not a new one. Discussed around dinner tables, in solicitors’ offices or by people’s bedsides, conversations regarding financial, legal, cultural and other personal areas have been discussed and thought through. It is just now these conversations have been given the name of Advance Care Planning.

Advance Planning for every individual is a process, not a once-off event and enables people to think, record and share with others their wishes so they are heard and understood, should a time come when they cannot speak for themselves.

Sharon Foley, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation said: “Unfortunately for many people, the concept of putting plans in place only comes into focus when they have been jolted by a diagnosis that brings living and dying into a new light. For many of us that jolt is happening now, during COVID-19”.

“We all have a right to be involved in decision-making about our healthcare and treatment choices. This right is applicable to us regardless of illness, age, ability or disability. Engaging in Advance Care Planning is one way that we can remain involved in our decision-making.”

When people think about planning ahead the first things that come to mind are usually writing a will or creating an Enduring Power of Attorney. However, some people wish to be more specific and seriously consider what treatments they would not like to receive in the future and write these down in an Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD).

2015 legislation, The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (ADMA), when fully commenced will provide a firmer legal framework to support the use of AHDs in Ireland. It also indicates that a register of AHDs may be established. The Irish Hospice Foundation believe the register is key to the success of part eight of this legislation.

Sharon continues: “Those of us who write an AHD need reassurance that it will be accessible by health and social care professionals and health and social care professionals need to access AHDs in an emergency to provide the best care for that person. However, this legislation, though enacted is not fully commenced. It needs to be commenced as soon as possible.”

“We all have a responsibility to ensure each citizen of Ireland is heard and seen as a person with views, values, wishes and opinions about the care they wish to receive or wish not to receive. Real people with real lives, real opinions, real beliefs and real values. Advance Care planning should be used to encourage all of us to think, talk, tell and prepare what is important to us and to record choices and direct our care. Now is as good a time as any to do this.”

The Decision Support Service (DSS) is also urging people to articulate their wishes in relation to decisions such as future medical treatment. The DSS, though not fully functional, was established under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. One way that people can plan for their future is by using the Irish Hospice Foundation’s Think Ahead form.

New care & Inform information hub on end of life and bereavement care during COVID19 launched

Posted on: May 12th, 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

Updated Thursday 30 April 2020

IHF CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORTS FOR FAMILY CARE-GIVERS

Posted on: April 30th, 2020

Thursday April 30, 2020

Data shows increase in non-Covid-19 deaths

The Irish Hospice Foundation is today calling for an increased package of supports for family care-givers providing end-of-life care at home. The call coincides with the publication of new analysis from the Foundation which shows a week-to-week excess death rate of non-Covid-19 deaths in the last 6 weeks, since restrictions on movement were put in place.

The analysis of the number of deaths reported (excluding those reported as Covid-19 related) during March and April show unusual increases in some weeks – up to 23.5% – when compared to the same period in 2019. This pattern reflects trends seen in Italy and other places. The Foundation says the figures could be evidence that people may not recognise the signs of end of life and therefore are not seeking services provided by GPs, specialist palliative care teams and Emergency Departments during the crisis.

Surveys have shown that as many as 75% of people would like to die at home, but less than 25% of people do. The Irish Hospice Foundation has long campaigned for services and supports to be in place to enable more people to die at home if they wish to do so. The presence of a family carer has been shown to be essential to good end of life care in the home.

Sharon Foley, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation said:

“It is important to remember that even during this Covid-19 crisis, services are available to people in the community – GPs and specialist palliative care continues to be available to patients and their families, even if it is just over the phone. With the correct supports and interventions, people can still experience a good end of life with quality care at this time. We also know that because of the restriction on home supports, and a concern about attending inpatient settings, many carers are experiencing little respite during Covid-19 which is particularly challenging if their loved one is nearing end of life.

We have seen an approximate 20% increase in our Nurses for Night Care service as families dealing with the imminent death of a loved one at home need more supports during the night. We welcome the additional funding provided this year but call on this State funding to be sustained beyond 2020 to at least 50%.”

 

The key supports and services the Irish Hospice Foundation is calling for at this time are:

  • Sustained commitment to 50%+ State funding for the Nurses for Night Care service;
  • More supports for GPs and Public Health Nurses in the provision of end-of-life and palliative care and assistance to family carers;
  • Ensure the restoration of respite care and other services (as soon as public health advice deems it safe to do so).
  • Establish a statutory home care scheme to enable more people to remain at home towards end of life, regardless of whether there is a family carer in place. The provision of a statutory home care scheme to be considered by political parties in the formation of Government talks; and
  • Appropriate training for family carers providing basic palliative and end-of-life care in the home.

The Irish Hospice Foundation has already produced a new resource – ‘Caring for someone nearing end of life at home during the Covid-19 crisis’, as part of their Care & Inform online resource hub. This resource supports and complements the HSE resources for supporting someone at end of life.

Professor Susan O’Reilly, Irish Hospice Foundation Board member said:

“The more we support delivery of care at home, the better we address the needs of patients, their family caregivers and professional staff. This approach will support the wishes of many patients to be kept comfortable at home, reduce the stress on families and simultaneously reduce the burden on hospices, care homes and hospitals”.

 

Data analysis

The Irish Hospice Foundation conducted an analysis of deaths as reported by RIP.ie in March and April 2019 and 2020, in conjunction with COVID-19 deaths announced by the HSE. This data is the most accurate real-time available reporting of deaths in Ireland, although it does not capture 100% of deaths.

May Bank Holiday Message from our CEO

Posted on: April 7th, 2020

 

As we mark the May Bank Holiday this weekend, I would like to thank everyone that has supported us so far this year, and in particular through these incredibly challenging times.  

 
With our fundraising events, campaigns and appeals temporarily on hold we have been touched by the donations and support that have come through our many friends, this website and our text donate number.  You are all helping us at a time when our services are in extra demand, particularly our Nurses for Night Care, and are ensuring that we can keep supporting you, the public and our health care professionals with our new Covid response Care & Inform resources.  I am proud to say we are updating these all the time and that we will be launching a new service in the coming weeks. I look forward to sharing news of that soon.  
 
Many of our staff teams will be taking much needed time off over the “long weekend” but our website remains open for information, advice and donations.   We will be back on Tuesday and in the meantime, we hope that you, your family and friends keep safe and well.  
 
Thank you once again for helping us with all our work for those facing dying, death and bereavement.   
 
Sharon 

Sharon Foley

CEO

IHF RECOMMENDS MEASURES BE PUT IN PLACE TO ENSURE NO-ONE DIES ALONE DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

Posted on: April 7th, 2020

 

April 16, 2020: The Irish Hospice Foundation is today recommending that one family member is allowed be with every person who is dying in hospitals and care settings – even if PPE is required for a COVID-19 patient.

The recommendation is being made after the Foundation sought clarity and guidance from the HSE.

CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation, Sharon Foley said: “Many people and staff in care settings have raised concerns regarding any person dying alone in a healthcare setting where family/loved ones are not allowed to visit, or be with the person, at end of life.”

“There is only one chance to get end-of-life care right and we know that dying alone is hugely problematic both for the dying person and their families – creating a lasting memory of distress for families and no doubt impacting on their bereavement.”

“We appreciate hospitals and other care settings, will need to assign staff to training families in the ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’ of PPE and that this training and support requires time and resources.”

The Irish Hospice Foundation is making the recommendation to complement and offer guidance on the strict infection control measures that have been put in place. No visiting guidance is being issued in many areas where the risk of COVID-19 is most high, including open ICU wards. We do appreciate the infection control measures in place and understand visiting restrictions are in place to prevent further infection to visitors, their families and to staff. We appreciate the sacrifices families are making at this point in time.

Our second recommendation is that hospitals and care settings put in place for families; clear guidance and explanations for their visiting policies (noting that it might differ between ICU or other wards), details of how limited visiting can be accommodated (where possible), and clear reasons for any restricted visiting policies.

This guidance should state how families can engage with the hospital or care setting on visiting – ideally through a named contact person, such as a social worker. If hospitals can provide as much clear detail as possible on where, how and when visiting can be allowed and facilitated, this can alleviate some distress for families.

If there is an absolute NO-VISITING policy at end of life, for infection control reasons; then our third recommendation is that proactive measures are put in place to ensure that dying patients and residents are not left alone and that staff use a variety of methods to bring comfort, compassion and company to the dying person, as well as, communicating these measures and approaches to the families sensitively. We appreciate this will require some staff times and resources.

We have also put together a series of Resources for Healthcare Workers to support and families during COVID-19 restrictions. They can be found here. https://hospicefoundation.ie/covid19careandinform/resources-for-healthcare-professionals/

 

Can you help us in these unprecedented times?

Posted on: April 6th, 2020
 
 
Thank you so much for the enormous response we have gotten to our new Care & Inform info hub.
 
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 the Irish Hospice Foundation to continue with this valuable work by texting 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
 
 
#IHFSupportingYou #COVID19Ireland #WeAreAllInThisTogether

New Resources launched to inform and support during COVID-19

Posted on: March 20th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the traditional ways we mark our grief.

For the moment, it is not possible to come together and to gather in one location. It is not possible to have a large funeral. It may not be possible to receive the company of those who wish to offer condolences. However, we can support ourselves and each other in different ways.

Over the coming days and weeks, the Irish Hospice Foundation will be developing a suite of materials to inform, support and reassure people as we navigate these uncertain times and find new ways of dealing with death, dying and bereavement.

We have published three resources so far, Grieving in Exceptional Times, Helping Children Grieve During COVID-19 Restrictions and Planning A Funeral in Exceptional Times. To find out more go here.

Monday 30 March 2020