Dying Well at Home
For most Irish people, home is where we would like to spend our final days.
Supporting a home death can be a rewarding and comforting experience for both family and carers. We recommend seeking help from community supports early, to set in place connections and services that can enable dying at home. Where possible, it’s important to involve the person being cared for when planning and discussing aspects of their care, preferences for care, and plans for the future.
Visit our I want to Plan ahead section.
Primary Care Team
Connecting with your local Primary Care healthcare team is essential and it’s advised to contact your primary medical and nursing caregivers, your GP and local public health nurse, as early as possible. Your Primary Care team also comprises healthcare assistants and allied health professionals and is usually located in your local health centre. The team will advise on care matters, providing guidance on how to support your loved one in the final period of life. They will be able to assist with practical advice on accessing and/or sourcing equipment, make referrals for specialised palliative care and organise carer and nursing supports should they be required and are available.
Before Being Discharged
If your loved one is being discharged home from a hospital or healthcare facility, it can be helpful to seek advice from healthcare staff as to how they can best help you to care for your loved one at home. Healthcare professionals, including the hospital occupational therapist, physiotherapists, social workers, as well as the nursing and medical team, can recommend how best to meet particular needs, and help to set up home-care and nursing packages before your loved one is discharged. Be sure to connect with the local Primary Care team prior to coming home.
Don’t forget to consider the emotional as well as physical adjustments that accompany the end of life. All members of the nursing, medical and therapy team can play a role supporting the emotional and psychological changes and can signpost to further supports.
Practical Care Advice
Discussing and seeking help for the practical aspects of care is a good idea. If you are looking after someone with end-of-life care needs, consider asking friends and neighbours for practical assistance, e.g. shopping, cooking, school runs or babysitting. Planning a care rota can help too. Family and carers should be familiar with the medications that someone is taking, the frequency of dosage, and possible side effects. Building a connection with a local pharmacist can be extremely beneficial.
If someone you care about is dying at home, our information sheet, ‘Caring for someone at end of life at home; some practical information’ will help you know what to expect and how you can support a person who is dying.
Dying Well at Home Report
In August 2023, Irish Hospice Foundation published our Dying Well at Home Report. The report presents the findings of focus groups and interviews held with family and carer groups, healthcare professionals and patients’ advocacy groups, highlighting the challenges of ensuring a good death at home and current gaps in the provision of end-of-life care. Download the report.