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HSE supports families through end of life care

 Zara Dagg End of Life coordinator Midland Regional Hospital holding a copy of the results of the first National End of Life Survey.



Michael was still talking to us an hour before he died so we had a lovely time, which sounds strange, but we were all there and everybody was so nice,” according to Colette Mulrooney from Birr Co Offaly, speaking as she highlighted the importance of the care provided to her husband Michael Mulrooney in the HSE Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore during his final days. Colette and her sons spent precious time with Michael in one of the designated rooms for end of life care. Colette explains that the staff were “there without being on top of us. If we needed anyone they were there in a minute. I would always have thought I would bring him home to die and I’d mind him. But seeing the care he got meant I could go back to being his wife those last few days rather than looking after him.’’

First National End of Life Survey

The results of the first National End of Life Survey were published this week. The survey asked bereaved people about the care provided to a family member or friend in the last months and days of their life in order to improve care. The survey is part of the National Care Experience Programme — a partnership between the Heath Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the HSE and the Department of Health.

Participants highlighted positive experiences across several areas of care, including the respect and dignity with which their relative or friend was treated and the standard of care provided by staff. A number of areas for improvement were also identified.

In total, 4,570 bereaved family members and friends participated in the survey. The findings showed that almost 74% of participants rated the care that their relative or friend received at the end of their life as ‘very good; 15% rated it as ‘good’, while 11% said that their relative received ‘fair’ to ‘poor’ care.

Welcoming the findings of the survey, the HSE - through a detailed response report entitled ‘Listening, Responding and Improving’ - outlined the work underway to address the issues highlighted by survey participants.

According to Zara Dagg, End of Life care co-ordinator in the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore and in the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, they “strive to ensure that quality standards for end of life care are in place in our hospitals. Our role as End of Life co-ordinators is to co-ordinate all aspects of death, dying and bereavement in the hospital and also link in with the communities in terms of local bereavement supports. We also have access to our local specialist palliative care teams and their supports as well.

“We have designated rooms for end of life care and we have family rooms in our hospitals. These rooms provide a quiet space for families to treat as a home. They are less clinical and they are very comfortable for families who can stay overnight with their loved ones. In the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise we also have a mortuary viewing room which is a room for the respectful repose of the deceased person where families can spend time together at a highly emotional and sensitive time.‘’

Dr Michael Cushen, Palliative Medicine Consultant based in the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore, further notes how ‘‘palliative care is all about quality of life for patients who have a serious illness. We manage their symptoms and we support the patients and their families, psychologically and practically. We try to help patients to live as well as possible for as long as possible. We have teams across hospital and community facilities, and in some areas, hospices. We help patients and their families to make informed decisions about their care. The main thing is that we try to get patients to live as well as possible for as long as possible. In summary I would say palliative care is all about comfort, dignity and hope.’’

Watch the HSE team and families outline their experience