Bereavement Support Line 1800 80 70 77

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.

> Read more about Palliative Care

Download the GP OOH handover form

Primary Palliative Care in Ireland

The development of primary palliative care services in Ireland has received a particular focus in the last decade. In 2009 we 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 1:

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 2:

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.

IHF/ICGP Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

In March 2020 Irish Hospice Foundation and ICGP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to support palliative care delivery in Ireland. A number of projects are underway including the re-establishment of a certificate course in Palliative Care for GPs which is supported by the HSE.

More Information

Read the latest (Dec 2023) Newsletter from the Primary Palliative Care Steering Committee with updates on palliative care in the community.

Past editions: Dec 2022 Dec 2021 Aug 2020 Dec 2019  May 2018

Practice Nurse Webinar – Palliative Care Week 2022

Palliative Care – Living as Well as Possible               

Palliative Care Week in 2022 took place from September 11-17 and its theme was ‘Palliative Care – Living as Well as Possible’. We hosted three webinars throughout the week that focused on raising awareness and sharing information about how palliative care can support people to live as well as possible.

Topics covered included: Nicole Forster (Healthcare Development Officer, IHF) discussing principals and practices of palliative care; Valerie Smith (Public Engagement, IHF) sharing information about having important conversations and Think Ahead; and Breffni McGuiness (National Bereavement Development Specialist, IHF) exploring ways of talking with and supporting someone who is grieving.

We look forward to hosting future webinars in 2023. If you have any suggestions or queries, please contact Marese Damery, Healthcare Programmes Manager, IHF at [email protected]


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

Useful resources