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Palliative Care Week – What Have You Heard? #pallcareweek

Palliative care week 2017 - John Joyce

Research Reveals Four out of Five People Think Palliative Care Can Only be Provided by Specialist Palliative Care Teams

Almost One Third of People Think Palliative Care is only Available in a Hospice or Hospital

Research published to coincide with Palliative Care Week 2017 (3rd to 9th September) reveals four out of five people think palliative care can only be provided by specialist palliative care teams. It also found that almost one third of people think palliative care is only available in a hospice or hospital. Palliative Care Week is facilitated by All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Karen Charnley, AIIHPC Head of Institute, said: “Hospices and hospitals are key for the provision of palliative care, especially for people with complex needs, but many people will receive palliative care within their own community. Palliative Care is provided by a range of professionals supporting the person, whether they are at home, in a nursing home, hospital or hospice.”

Dr Bridget Johnston of Trinity College Dublin carried out the research as part of a project supported by AIIHPC. Interviews were carried out with 75 patients accessing specialist palliative care services and 69 caregivers.

“This research found that misperceptions about palliative care are common among people receiving this care and caregivers. Four out of five people assumed that palliative care can only be offered by specialist teams and this was consistent for both patients receiving care and for caregivers. It was also interesting to find that almost one third of people believe palliative care is only available in a hospice or hospital. This shows there’s still important work to be done to increase people’s understanding of palliative care, so that they are able to make informed choices about care,” said Dr Johnston.

The research also found that eight out of ten people agreed palliative care was about quality of life and that it offers support to family and friends.

Lending Support

The Irish Hospice Foundation has leant its strong support for #pallcareweek and reiterated its call for the government to show that bereavement, palliative care and end-of-life issues are priority areas in their policy development and investment.

IHF CEO Sharon Foley continued: “Palliative care supports and guides people who have an incurable condition or illness. It could be your next-door neighbour or best friend who will need this care when facing death and it’s all of our business to realise the grave importance of palliative care. Death is taboo in Ireland, conversations around death and loss are never easy. But they need to be encouraged. It’s the one inevitable facing us all.

“So we’re strongly supporting Palliative Care Week again this year which shines a spotlight on the incredible difference palliative care can make to patient, carers and families throughout Ireland, regards of age or condition. It enables our loved ones to live well until the end; be that days, weeks or months.”

Evelyn’s Story

36-year-old Evelyn Wakefield from Birr in Co. Offaly was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer in 2014. When she was contacted by a palliative care nurse, she initially didn’t want to see her.

“I felt if I brought the palliative care nurse in, I was facing death and I wasn’t ready for that. We talked and I was surprised by the suggestions she gave me to give me a better quality of life. I very quickly realised what palliative care was and that the nurse was there to give me the best quality of life I could possibly have and I’ve succeeded. My perception has obviously changed because I’m on the receiving end of palliative care and I now understand what it is but there are people out there that are still afraid when it’s mentioned. What I’d say to them is take all the support you can get. It helps greatly and I now have a better quality of life with my family.”

Karen Charnley continued: “Our aim for Palliative Care Week is to encourage people to think about their understanding of palliative care and to encourage them not to be afraid to ask their GP or any other healthcare professional if palliative care could help them or someone they love. People tend to associate palliative care being for people with advanced cancer but it’s equally important if you’re living with advanced heart or lung disease, kidney failure and other conditions such as motor neurone disease or dementia.”

Government Support

Jim Daly T.D., Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, is supporting Palliative Care Week. Minister Daly said: “I was delighted to hear about Palliative Care Week and the work of AIIHPC during a visit to Marymount University Hospital & Hospice, Cork. It is important for people to be aware of the support that is available to make the most of life when they have a live-limiting illness. Through our National Clinical Programme for Palliative Care, and by supporting Palliative Care Week, our aim is to increase awareness and understanding of palliative care, and support those who need this care.”

Sheilagh Reaper Reynolds, HSE Lead for Palliative Care, said: “Palliative care services aim to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and carers facing progressive illness that may limit or shorten their lives. People can sometimes have a fear of palliative care and the Palliative Care Week helps us to explain how palliative services can improve a person’s quality of life throughout the course of their illness.”

Palliative Care Week 2017, September 3-9 will raise vital awareness of the difference palliative care can make to patients, carers and families throughout the island of Ireland.


Palliative care

  • Ensures that a person with a serious and progressive condition, regardless of age or condition, can have the best possible quality of life
  • Involves the person and those close to them
  • Supports planning for the future
  • May be appropriate for a number of years, not just the weeks and days at the end of life
  • Puts the person at the centre of care whether it is provided at home, in a nursing home, hospital or hospice.

Discover how you can support or attend a #pallcareweek event  here. An explanation of some of the key terms and phrases you will hear regarding palliative care throughout the week are here. Palliative Care Week is coordinated by the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC), with input and support from partner and stakeholder organisations across the island including the Irish Hospice Foundation.