The word “hospice” derives from Latin hospitum, meaning hospitality or place of rest and protection for the ill and weary. It is a type of health care that focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill patient’s pain and symptoms and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life.
The goal of hospice care is to prioritize comfort, quality of life and individual wishes. How comfort is defined is up to each individual or, if the patient is incapacitated, the patient’s family. This can include addressing physical, emotional, spiritual and/or social needs. Hospices typically do not perform treatments that are meant to diagnose or cure an illness but also do not include treatments that hasten death.
From the 2014 Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) ‘survey on attitudes to end of life’ 74% of people want to die at home, however as per figures recorded by the Central Statistic’s Office (CSO) only 23% typically do so. The impact of COVID was seen in 2020 with a significant increase to 28%.
|Place of occurrence||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020|
|At home (Domicilary)||23%||22%||23%||23%||23%||28%|
But whilst the term Hospice tends to be primarily associated with the particular buildings or institutions that specialize in such care, the Irish Hospice Foundation are working to ensure the best end-of-life and bereavement care, for all. From advocacy and education, to their vital services like Nurses for Night Care and Bereavement Support Line, they believe in the importance of dying well and grieving well wherever the place. This includes
- Nurses for Night Care service for people dying with illnesses other than cancer.
- CEOL (Compassionate End of Life) is the IHF quality improvement programme for nursing homes and residential care centres in Ireland.
- Palliative Care programmes
- Hospice Friendly Hospitals (HFH) – takes a multi-level and multi-systems approach to EOLC working with all staff at all levels of the hospital, hospital group and HSE nationally.
Whilst the nationwide average of deaths in a hospice was 8%, unfortunately the ability to access hospices & hospice care depends greatly on which part of the country in which you’re located with the two extremes (based on occurrence of death) being:
0% – Longford
17% – Sligo
The Hospices included in the tool below, typically provide services such as:
- Community Palliative Care
- Hospice Day Services
- Inpatient Units
- Bereavement Care
This is done through their team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, complementary therapists, lymphoedema therapists, pharmacists, care assistants, household staff, administration staff, volunteers and contract staff. Such institutions may similarly provide care mostly in an end-of-life setting, but they may also be available for patients with other palliative care needs. Hospice care also includes assistance for patients’ families to help them cope with what is happening and provide care and support to keep the patient at home.
Volunteers are always sought after by the various Hospices and roles could vary from Reception, Drive to Hairdresser, Beautician and many others