We, Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), welcome the publication of the ‘Dying and Death in Ireland: what do we routinely measure, how can we improve?’ report. The report contains findings from a study conducted by researchers in Trinity College Dublin about how and where people died in Ireland between 2013 and 2018. It also reports on the type and quality of data on death and dying that are available in Ireland.
The report reveals that cancer and heart-related disease are the leading causes of death in Ireland. In 2018, 31% of people died of cancer and 29% of heart-related conditions. Diseases of the respiratory system were the third most common cause of death (13%). The study also found an increase in deaths due to mental and behavioural disorders between 2013 and 2018. This increase was driven by higher rates of deaths due to dementia over that time.
The report also found that hospitals were the most common place where people died between 2013 and 2018 in Ireland. Over 2 in 5 (44%) people died in our hospitals each year, followed by deaths at home (23%) and deaths in long stay residential care (23%) A further 8% of people died in specialist inpatient palliative units (hospices).
Welcoming the report, Sharon Foley, Chief Executive of Irish Hospice Foundation, notes that:
“The findings from this report support much of what we have been saying in IHF for many years – that additional investment is needed in end-of-life care across all health, social and homecare settings. The fact that 2 in 5 people die in Irish hospitals each year highlights the importance of initiatives such as our Hospice Friendly Hospital programme, which works to ensure the principles of palliative care are embedded across the acute healthcare sector.
The report has also highlighted that some regions in Ireland do not have specialist inpatient palliative care units. Where a person lives should not be a barrier to access to the very best care at end of life, including access to specialist inpatient palliative care. We must do all we can to ensure equitable access to palliative and hospice care in every region of Ireland. We are calling for urgent investment in home-based end-of-life care and in the development of specialist inpatient palliative care units in those regions that are currently without this vital service.”
The Dying and Death in Ireland report presents findings from a Health Research Board (HRB) funded study led by Peter May, Research Assistant Professor at Trinity College. IHF was delighted to support this research as one of the study collaborators along with the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
In the video below (length: 9 minutes) principal researchers Peter May and Soraya Matthews outline the key findings of the report.