Half the population think Covid-19 has increased the importance of discussing palliative care. The finding is from a new survey of perceptions of palliative care commissioned by the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) to highlight Palliative Care Week (13th to 19th September). The tagline and theme for the seventh annual Palliative Care Week is ‘Palliative Care: In This Together’.
The survey of people in the Republic of Ireland, carried out in July 2020, also found that 4 in 5 people would like to be supported to discuss and write down their wishes and preferences for care at the end of life.
The findings also demonstrate that misconceptions exist about palliative care. The survey found that 1 in 3 people think palliative care is a last resort, whereas palliative care may be appropriate for a number of years, not just for weeks and days at the end of life.
Palliative Care Week, facilitated by AIIHPC, aims to raise awareness across the island of Ireland about the positive difference palliative care can make to people with life-limiting conditions and their carers and families. The focus of the week is for people to get better informed about palliative care and its benefits while helping to remove any stigmas or misconceptions about palliative care.
Speaking ahead of Palliative Care Week 2020, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, said: “Palliative care plays a vital role in maintaining quality of life for people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. It is important that the public understands palliative care and the benefits of accessing such care when needed. Palliative Care Week helps to grow this awareness and understanding.”
Reflecting on this year’s theme, Minister Donnelly added: “Much like the national effort against Covid-19, Palliative Care Week reminds us that we are all in this together when it comes to caring for people with life-limiting conditions in our society. We stand in solidarity with all those receiving palliative care, and I am delighted to support Palliative Care Week.”
Palliative care puts the individual at the centre of care and supports their physical, social, psychological and spiritual health needs. It requires a broad range of professionals, family carers and communities working together to support the person with a serious health condition and those closest to them. Palliative care is provided at home, in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices and it can improve a person’s quality of life throughout the course of their illness.
AIIHPC Director, Karen Charnley said the aim of Palliative Care Week is for people to have a better understanding of palliative care and its benefits: “This week we would like people to think about palliative care and how it could help them. We encourage people to talk about palliative care and its benefits with their GP or other health and social care professionals, and with those who are important to them. It’s clear from our findings that Covid-19 has increased the importance of discussing palliative care, and its quality of life benefits for those with life-limiting illnesses and for their family carers.”
Joe McCann from Dublin is receiving palliative care from St Francis Hospice, Dublin. In 2018 Joe was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread into his bones and leg. Speaking to mark the launch of Palliative Care Week 2020, Joe said: “It was a complete shock to myself and the family. They caught the cancer in time but there is nothing they could do with the bone. Then St Francis Hospice got in touch and I went there about once a month for relaxation therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. They also gave me exercises to do at home, like breathing exercises; I found this very relaxing. The palliative care has been absolutely great.”
Joe’s daughter, Vivienne, said: “When you hear the word palliative care it knocks you back but we have seen a whole other side to it. It’s a support system – it’s being around people that are in the same position as you, and the support received has been amazing. I’d say the biggest improvement I’ve seen in him would be his mental health.”
Dr Brian Creedon, Consultant Palliative Medicine Physician in University Hospital Waterford and Clinical Lead for the National Clinical Programme for Palliative Care, said: “Much fear and misunderstanding persists about palliative care. The assumption that the role of palliative care professionals is limited to end-of-life risks denying vital care to patients. Palliative care enables those living with a life-limiting illness to be empowered to experience an improved quality of life – it is not dependent on prognosis, or disease, and can be delivered at the same time as curative treatment.
“As a community we have never been more ‘in this together’ and during Palliative Care Week I encourage you and your families to become informed about the role and place of palliative care, and reflect on your own future care preferences.”
Visit www.thepalliativehub.com/public-awareness to find out more. #pallcareweek
Watch the AIIHPC short In This Together video here.
Infographic on Perceptions of Palliative Care
For further information or to request an interview contact:
Sarah Dunne, +353 85 853 5647 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Robyn Keleghan, +353 87 136 8975 or email@example.com
(L to R) Karen Charnley, Director, and Brendan O’Hara, Programme Manager, All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) launching Palliative Care Week 2020, with the aim of encouraging people to think about palliative care and how it can help them.
Karen Charnley, Director, and Brendan O’Hara, Programme Manager, All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) launching Palliative Care Week 2020, with the aim of encouraging people to think about palliative care and how it can help them.
Notes to Editors:
- *iReach survey of 1,000 people in the Republic of Ireland conducted in July 2020.
- A number of individuals in receipt of palliative care are willing to share their experience with the media including Joe McCann. Please see a video of Joe here.
- Karen Charnley, AIIHPC Director, is available for interview.
- To request an interview with Dr Brian Creedon, Clinical Lead for the National Clinical Programme for Palliative Care, use the contact details above.
Additional Information on the Ageing Population and Palliative Care Requirements:
- Evidence suggests that between 75% and 80% of people who die have conditions that would benefit from some palliative care services, with the potential to support their quality of life for weeks, months and years.
- Demands for palliative care services are expected to double by 2050.
- The need for palliative care is increasing across the island of Ireland. The number of deaths in the Republic of Ireland (which is a good indicator of likely palliative care needs) is projected to rise to 54,000 by 2050, representing a rise of 74% since 2016.
- The number of people dying in Northern Ireland over a 25-year period from 2016 to 2041 is projected to increase by 32 per cent (from 15,300 to 20,300) – NISRA Statistical Bulletin (October 2017).
About All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care:
All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) is a collaborative of hospices, health and social care organisations and universities on the island of Ireland. AIIHPC advances education, research and practice to improve the palliative care experience of people with life-limiting conditions and their families.
AIIHPC works with a group of visionary partners who recognise the value of working together to achieve a better, richer experience of palliative care for people with life-limiting conditions. The organisation’s 26 partners (15 Republic of Ireland / 11 Northern Ireland) are:
An Roinn Sláinte / Department of Health
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
Dublin City University
Dublin University Trinity College
Galway Hospice Foundation
Irish Hospice Foundation
Lauralynn Children’s Hospice
Macmillan Cancer Support NI
Marymount University Hospital & Hospice
Milford Care Centre
National University of Ireland Galway
Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Northern Ireland Hospice
Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services
Public Health Agency
Queen’s University Belfast
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Southern Health and Social Care Trust
St. Francis Hospice
University College Cork
University College Dublin
University of Limerick
Western Health and Social Care Trust.