Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) welcomes the publication today (Wednesday 19 August 2020) of the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report. IHF made a submission as part of the consultation process for the Report and were delighted to present as part of the ‘Advocacy and End-of-Life thematic engagement’ to the Expert Panel.
We particularly welcome the Expert Panel’s recommendation for 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.
This initiative could be established along the same lines as our joint HSE-IHF Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme, launched nationally in 2017. IHF is very willing to contribute our experience and expertise in the development and provision of such a programme.
IHF currently supports and provides a multidisciplinary programme into nursing homes and residential care settings. The aim of this programme, called Compassionate End of Life (CEOL), is to promote a quality improvement approach to dying, death and bereavement and includes staff workshops and ongoing training via accredited CEOL training networks with specific training inputs on palliative care. IHF has been running this programme in nursing homes for seven years, with participation from approximately 160 nursing homes.
This has been an incredibly distressing time for residents, families and staff. The impact of visiting restrictions and infection control measures, as an outcome of COVID-19, on families and staff also need to be considered. For those who were unable to be with a loved one as they died, this could have created a lasting memory of distress, both for families and staff and may be impacting on their grief.
We all must learn from the challenges and experiences of end-of-life 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 further waves of COVID-19 infection as well as for the further development of the nursing home sector. IHF welcomes this timely and important Report and we look forward to working with the Department of Health and other key stakeholders in progressing the recommendations within the Report
Irish Hospice Foundation has also developed a series of resources for healthcare workers, focused on delivering care during COVID-19 as part of our Care & Inform series.