Rehabilitative Palliative Care

The study has been funded by the Sláintecare Integration Fund on behalf of the Department of Health. 

Data collection is now complete. Check back for new updates!

Sláintecare Rehabilitative Palliative Care project - Fintan Fagan CEO explains

What is the rehabilitative palliative care project?

Rehabilitative Palliative Care optimises wellbeing and enables people to live as independently as possible despite advancing illness. It empowers people to adapt with dignity by providing a support system to help patients cope with changes associated with deteriorating health.

Despite the fact that 3,370 community-based and 1,340 hospitalised patients are seen by specialist palliative care teams every month, rehabilitative palliative care remains a largely underdeveloped component of care. Considering that the number of people in the last year of life will increase by an estimated 27% by 2031, there is an urgent need to develop solutions to improve care.

This project provides an innovative model of rehabilitative palliative care spanning hospital and community. It integrates rehabilitation and enablement into the model of Palliative Care to improve hospital flow, support integrated discharge and build capacity for Health and Social Care Professionals to work in partnership across transitions of care.

Who is delivering this project?

St Francis Hospice and the Mater Hospital, Dublin are providing the rehabilitative service.  The All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care is providing communications and knowledge transfer support.

The project funded occupational therapist (OT), plays a key role within the palliative care team, highlighting the value of non-medicalised approaches to care. The OT assessment results in the setting of person-centred goals to promote a focus on function rather than symptoms and support self-management, providing a balance of enablement alongside care. Timely discharge home is supported in partnership with the St Francis Hospice based project funded physiotherapist, to ensure smooth transitions of care to home.

The novel community based specialist palliative care physiotherapist provides a rehabilitative approach to symptoms in an effort to improve self-management and reduce inappropriate readmissions. The physiotherapist sees patients in their own homes and in the outpatient department.

Evaluation of the project will use mixed methods.

Who are the project team members?

Prof Karen Ryan

Consultant in the Palliative Medicine, Mater Hospital and St Francis Hospice. Karen is lead investigator on the project and will oversee the operation of the service and the care provided to patients.

Dr Bridget Johnston

Research fellow based in Trinity College Dublin. Bridget is co-investigator on the project. She will oversee the evaluation of the service, and ensure that patient, family and staff opinions of the service are captured for learning and reflection.  

Fódhla Ní Chéileachair

A postgraduate student of Health Psychology with the National University of Ireland, Galway, Fódhla is a research assistant on the project. She will analyse both interview and survey data from patients, family and staff to contribute to the service evaluation.

Lisa Mannion

Project funded occupational therapist (OT), Mater Hospital.


Fiona Cahill

Project funded physiotherapist, St Francis Hospice.

Project Funding

The study has been funded by the Sláintecare Integration Fund on behalf of the Department of Health.  This project was awarded a research grant to allow for provision of the rehabilitative palliative care service in 2020.