Irish Hospice Foundation’s new report highlights deficits in access to Palliative care

Access to palliative care services and place of death in Ireland

The Irish Hospice Foundation this week launched the second report in its perspectives series ‘Access to Specialist Palliative Care Services and Place of Death in Ireland; What the Data tells us‘. The report, completed by Eugene Murray based on his research with additional analysis by Dr. Kathy McLoughlin and Sharon Foley, indicated a number of inequalities in access to palliative services in Ireland. Some core findings of the research were;

  • That hospice deficits impact where people die – areas with limited access to a hospice have more cancer deaths in acute hospital
  • An estimated 2,500 patients each year are denied access to hospice inpatient care because of lack of services in their area 

The findings emerged from an examination of data from four sources over two years. Data was sourced from the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Minimum Data Set for Palliative Care and HSE national and regional population statistics from 2011 along with the National Cancer Registry and the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry from 2010.  This research took an ecological approach bringing together broad population data to explore trends and illustrate areas for further research.

The Irish Hospice Foundation has now called on the government to prioritize the development of a broad end of life strategy.

The full report can be read HERE  

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Palliative Medicine Information service

The regulation and administration of medicines for patients under palliative care can be a complex and challenging  task even for experienced healthcare practitioners.

To provide support for such practitioners the Palliative Meds Info service was launched in September 2010. Based in the pharmacy department of Our Lady’s Hospice Harold’s Cross, the service provides phone and email support on all aspects of medication for patients under palliative care from dosage and delivery methods to side effects and reactions.

The service, funding for which was provided by a development grant from the Irish Hospice Foundation has been expanding since its launch and has now developed a dedicated webpage. The Palliative Meds Info webpage which includes medication guidelines, patient information leaflets and newsletters can be accessed HERE   

Primary Palliative Care in Ireland – New report launched

Author of the report, Marie Lynch; Development manager Irish Hospice Foundation (L) pictured with Irish Hospice Foundation CEO Sharon Foley

The Irish Hospice Foundation last week launched  its new report Primary Palliative Care in Ireland: Identifying improvements in primary care to support the care of those in their last year of life”.

The report, a collaboration between the Irish Hospice Foundation, the HSE and the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) is the work of the Primary Palliative Care Steering Committee which was established in 2010 to embed palliative care in primary care settings.

Speaking at the launch of the report, chairperson of the Primary Palliative Care Steering Committee Dr Paul Gregan, acknowledged that with more than 90% of the last year of life spent at home, care for patients nearing the end of their lives is provided predominantly in a primary care environment. A recording of report author Marie Lynch, development manager with the Irish Hospice Foundation addressing the launch is available HERE 

In order to identify supports and work towards a formal framework for primary palliative care the Primary Palliative Care (PPC) programme conducted a survey in ten HSE Local Health offices during 2010. Survey findings outlined in the report indicate areas for skills development, service development and education. Some of the key findings from respondents include;

  •  A desire for enhanced communication skills for interacting with patients and families at end-of-life
  • Development of patient information transfer systems
  • Improvement of out of hours services
  • Training in end-of-life care

Taking the survey findings on board the programme now moves into the implementation phase.

You can download the report in full HERE or obtain a hard copy by contacting the Irish Hospice Foundation  on 01 6755975

 

Irish Hospice Foundation survey finds primary care staff want more training in end-of-life care

Results of a survey conducted by the Irish Hospice Foundation along with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and the HSE reveal that healthcare staff want more training in end-of-life care.

The survey was carried out with community healthcare staff in Dublin, Offaly, Cork & Donegal in late 2010.

Access to specialised medical equipment and training in management of complex symptoms in terminal patients was seen as a priority for 87 and 66% of respondents respectively. Further details of the survey are available HERE.

Though 90% of care for Irish patients at the end of life is administered in a primary care setting there is currently no formal framework for supporting and delivering palliative care in this context. The survey highlights the key challenges for healthcare professionals delivering end of life care to the approximately 25% of patients who  die at home every year.  The survey data will inform the next stage of the Irish Hospice Foundations primary care, palliative care initiative and a full report on the findings and implications of the survey will be published later this year.

More information on the Primary care, Palliative care initiative is available HERE    

Happy Library Ireland Week!

It’s that time of year again, this week (March 7th to 13th) libraries around the country will be showcasing their services and collections with special spotlight features, events and promotions. This year’s theme of ‘Smart people use smart libraries’ aims to illustrate the ways in which libraries use technology to enhance, extend and promote their services. Staff and students of the Irish Hospice Foundation can book in for 10 minute library fix sessions. These short personal tutorials cover anything from effectively using the library catalogue and database searching to setting up personal searches and alerts using RSS feeds or finding out about social media tools or iphone apps useful for work or research – contact Laura in the library to book a session.

Here on the blog there will be features to highlight smart libraries and resource recommendations throughout the week.

To get you in the mood have a look at this great promotional video produced to celebrate Library Ireland Week 2011.

Irish views on death & dying

New research published in the current volume of the Journal of Medical Ethics (Vol 36) presents the findings of a survey aimed at examining the Irish public’s understanding of death and dying.

The national survey, funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation asked respondents to comment on a range of ethical issues in relation to death and dying including questions about their familiarity with terms like advance care directive, palliative sedation or artificial hydration as well as questions about their attitudes to death and dying, their preferences for treatment and decision making in event of terminal illness.

Responses indicate that there is a general lack of awareness of the terminology of end-of-life care, that most respondents expect honest communication in relation to terminal diagnoses and that a large degree of trust still exists in physicians ability to make the right end-of-life care decisions. Consistent with patient and family responses in the National audit of end-of-life care, the research indicates that for most people the quality of death is important.

Article abstract is available HERE and access to a full text copy is available via the Therese Brady Library

Launch of Quality standards for end-of-life care and audit on end-of-life report

Standards development coordinator Helen Donovan & Minister Mary Harney at the launch of 'Quality standards for end-of-life care in Hospitals' Clontarf castle May 19

Wednesday’s Hospice Friendly Hospitals conference ‘End-of-life care; from the margins to the mainstream’ saw the launch of the report on the first ‘National audit of end-of-life care in Hospitals in Ireland’ and the new ‘Quality standards for end-of-life care in Hospitals’

These publications mark the end of phase one of the Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme and represent a significant contribution to the understanding of current practice and future development of end-of-life services in Ireland. The audit, which surveyed end of life care in 24 acute hospitals (75 % of the acute sector) and 19 community hospitals (20% of community sector) presents a unique multi dimensional approach to assessing death and dying in Irish hospitals illustrating the  varying perspectives on quality of care at end of life from doctors, nurses, hospital staff patients and relatives.

Among the audit findings are;

  • 20/25% of patients could have died at home were adequate supports in place
  • Information given to patients’ relatives is often not adequate
  • Quality levels vary across diseases with cancer at the high end of the spectrum and dementia at the lower end
  • The hospitals treatment of the family has a lasting effect

The Quality standards, launched by  Minister Mary Harney at Wednesdays conference were  developed as a framework around which to implement quality care. They have been arranged around the four key areas of Hospital – Staff – Patient -Family and aim to provide access points from which hospitals can integrate compassion and communication into processes and practice.

The quality standards and the audit report are available to download from the Hospice Friendly Hospitals website or hard copies can be obtained from the Irish Hospice Foundation