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Primary Palliative Care

Primary Palliative care is the term given to a holistic (whole person) approach to care for people who have advancing life-limiting conditions who are living at home. It includes improving quality of life through managing symptoms, and addressing psychological, social and spiritual issues.

This care is provided by a Primary Care Team made up of general practitioners (GPs), public health nurses (PHNs), community physiotherapists, community occupational therapists (OTs), psychologists, social workers and a range of other community-based staff. This team is supported by the Community Palliative Care team.

Palliative Care: What is it and Who Is It For?
This resource provides general information on frequently asked questions about palliative care including what it is, who can receive it and how to access it, etc. Read here.

Primary Palliative care in Ireland

Download the GP OOH Palliative Care handover form

The development of primary palliative care services in Ireland has received a particular focus in the last decade. In 2009 Irish Hospice Foundation came together with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and the HSE to embark upon a joint programme of work to support the development of primary palliative care in Ireland.

Phase One:

Reporting on Primary Palliative Care in Ireland
The initial aim of this programme was to identify specific areas where steps might be taken to enhance the care of those with palliative care needs. The report of this first phase of the programme, was published in 2011. Read the report.

Phase Two:

Establishing a National Steering Committee
The second phase commenced in 2012 with the establishment of a National Steering Committee, which includes representatives of the fields of both primary care and specialist palliative care, as well as from the HSE’s Palliative Care Programme. This committee is now overseeing the implementation of the recommendations prioritised in the report.

More info:

Read the latest (Aug 2020) IHF communique providing a summary of projects underway:
IHF PPC communique aug 2020

Past editions: Dec 2019  May 2018



This document highlights other IHF useful resources for health and social care professionals working in the PPC setting.
IHF PPC useful resources jan 2020


International Primary Palliative Care Network (IPPCN)
This international group are committed to see palliative care practiced as a core part of comprehensive primary care practice. Visit IPPCN

European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC):
The aim of the EAPC is to promote palliative care in Europe and to act as a focus for all of those who work, or have an interest, in the field of palliative care at the scientific, clinical and social levels. For an update on their work Visit EAPC

A toolkit to facilitate the development of palliative care in the community was developed and has been identified as a means whereby palliative care can be integrated into primary health care. View the toolkit


Practice Nurses and Palliative Care
Shanagher, D., O’Brien Green, S. and Lawlor, R. Nursing in General Practice 2020 Vol 13 (1) p19-21.
Full text here.

Better guidance needed on community DNARs
Shanagher, D., O’Mahoney, P. and O’Brien Green, S. Forum Journal Vol 37 (6) p24.
Full text here.

Generalist Palliative Care Delivered By Community Nurses
Carroll, D., Shanagher, D. & Lynch, M. Journal of Community & Public Health Nursing 2016:2;2
Full text here.

Information transfer to out-of-hours co-operatives: a survey of general practitioners’ views in relation to palliative patients
Kiely F, Murphy , O’Brien T. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 2013;3: 405-411
Full text here

What tools are available to identify patients with palliative care needs in primary care: a systematic literature review and survey of European practice
Lydon GM, Shergill NK, Campion-Smith C, et al. BMJ Supportive & Palliative care2013;3:412-241
Full text here

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Palliative Care Week 13-19 Sept 2020 events

The following webinars will be delivered for Palliative Care Week from 13 to 19 September 2020. Palliative Care Within General Practice IHF in partnership with ICGP Date: Wednesday 16 September Time: 8pm Speakers: Dr. Brian Creedon, Dr. Siobhan Kennelly, Dr. Paul Gregan REGISTER for event Preserving the self – Carers Webinar Series Date: Wednesday 16 […] Read more >

GP Out-of-Hours Palliative Care Handover Project

A recommendation from the Primary Palliative Care in Ireland report (IHF, ICGP and HSE, 2011) was to develop formal mechanisms for GPs to communicate with the out-of-hours (OOH) doctor service. A project was initiated to develop a handover form which GPs would complete and forward to their OOH colleagues. This form aims to help GPs […] Read more >

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