For World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, Minister Donnelly welcomes new Sláintecare pilot service for Rehabilitative Palliative Care

From Department of Health 

Published on 8 October 2021

Tomorrow, Saturday 9 October, marks World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2021. The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has welcomed a new, Sláintecare funded, pilot service between St Francis Hospice and the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

The service provides integrated care linking the hospital and community elements of palliative care. This creates a positive impact on patients’ lives, optimising quality of life, and reducing length of stay in hospital.

Patients who are in the general hospital environment are discharged into the community with the support of Occupational Therapy in the Mater Hospital and Physiotherapy in the community. The community-based specialist palliative care physiotherapist can visit patients at home, ensuring that patients can receive services even if they are too unwell to leave their own home.

Minister Donnelly said:

“Sláintecare is about delivering the right care, at the right time, in the right place and this pilot scheme for community-based palliative care embodies each of those principles.

“The service focusses on the entire care pathway of the patient. Integration of services between hospital and community has allowed for a streamlined system, where patients are linked into occupational therapy or physiotherapy, or both.

“Protecting patient time is very important to the clinicians and therapists involved in this service, who prioritise granting patients rapid access to informed care at home, following hospital discharge.

“The Rehabilitative Palliative service has treated over 250 patients to date, allowing patients living with life-limiting conditions to self-manage their condition, and to enjoy the best quality of life in the comfort of their own homes.”

Early review in the hospital setting means that patients’ symptoms are controlled more quickly, functional ability is improved as far as is possible, and discharge planning is managed in a timely and more efficient manner.

An analysis of this service is underway and preliminary findings indicate that patients benefit as they feel empowered, have greater confidence and ability to self-manage symptoms and have improved quality of life.

The Department of Health is in the process of updating the Palliative Care Policy for Adults in 2022 and has recently launched a public consultation to allow the general public to have their say. The public consultation consists of an online survey which can be accessed on the Department of Health’s website.

Minister Donnelly said:

“This public consultation seeks to understand the public’s awareness of palliative care and capture views on current services as well as future priorities for the policy update.

“I would urge everyone to take the time to complete this survey, it is anonymous, takes 5 minutes to complete and is open until Monday 25 October. The survey will provide valuable information on how care for people with a serious and progressive illness is delivered in Ireland, helping to shape the development of palliative care services in Ireland in the future.”