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   

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New list of essential practices in Palliative care developed

The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care has just released its newly developed list of essential practices in palliative care.

The list was developed following a three year process consisting of three Delphi surveys and input from 410 individuals including 49 pain and palliative care organisations. Irish input to the Delphi rounds was provided by Professor Philip J Larkin of UCD School of Nursing & Midwifery and Dr Karen Ryan, HSE Clinical lead for palliative care.

The finalised list comprises 23 practices covering different interventions within areas of care including; Physical care; Psychological,emotional & spiritual care; care planning, coordination and communications. The list of essential practices aims to ease definition of appropriate palliative care and improve the overall understanding, quality and delivery of palliative care internationally.

The detailed project document care be accessed HERE and the essential practices list is accessible HERE

New publication builds on ethical framework for end-of-life care

A new book due to be launched by Cork University Press on November 16th develops and expands on the Ethical framework on end-of-life care produced by the Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme last year (more details HERE)

End-of-life Care ethics and lawwritten by Joan McCarthy, Mary Donnelly, Dolores Dooley, David Smith & Louise Campbell takes the eight modules of the ethical framework as its foundation.

The book draws on the body of research on the ethical issues in caring for patients at the end-of-life. It pulls together guidelines, codes of conduct, legal positions and bioethical perspectives to act as a multidisciplinary reference source for healthcare and legal professionals seeking clarification on these complex issues. Further details and context on the publication are available HERE.

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    

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