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IHF Statement

Renewed call for a national programme on palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care for nursing homes

Following last night’s RTÉ Primetime Investigates programme, Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) is renewing its call for a national collaborative programme on palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care for the nursing home sector to be commenced.  

This has been an incredibly distressing time for residents, families and staff in the sector with the full impact of COVID-19 visiting restrictions and infection control measures still coming to light.  

For those who were unable to be with a loved one as they died, this is creating a lasting memory of distress both for families and staff and is also affecting their grief. 

One of the key recommendations included in the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report published last August, was the initiation of a joint HSE-IHF collaborative national programme on palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care for the nursing home sector that engages all stakeholders and improves quality of care across the sector.  

We are currently examining how an initiative, along the same lines as our joint HSE-IHF Hospice Friendly Hospitals (HFH) Programme, could be established. We are in active discussions with the HSE and other partners on programme planning and conceptualisation but we await Government approval on funding.  

HFH was launched in 2007 to introduce a strategic and focused approach to the improvement of end-of-life care (EOLC) in acute hospitals. Since it was established and working with 47 hospitals nationwide, we have learned that it takes a multi-level and multi-system approach, working with all staff at all levels of the hospital, hospital group and HSE to get EOLC right. 

Over the past number of years, we have also been supporting staff in the nursing home sector to continuously review, reflect and improve the EOLC they provide for residents, their families and the staff themselves through our CEOL (Compassionate End of Life) programme.  

IHF is very willing to contribute our experience and expertise in this area and we look forward to collaborating with key partners in the nursing home sector to develop and implement this vital programme. It’s imperative that we all learn from the range of challenges and incredibly difficult experiences of end-of-life and bereavement care during the COVID-19 crisis. This is an experience that must not be repeated and be actively planned for as part of any preparation for the further development of the nursing home sector.