Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illness. The prevention and relief of suffering is realised through early assessment and treatment of pain, or associated problems whether they be physical, spiritual or otherwise.
It is worth stressing that Palliative Care, in which non-statutory players feature prominently, is moving beyond the traditional life limiting area of cancer, to address other non-malignant or chronic conditions. The 2017 palliative care budget of almost €76.3m is an increase of 5% on the 2016 allocation.
The report contains 31 recommendations which are being implemented under the aegis of the National Development Committee (a multi-stakeholder representative group), chaired by the HSE.
The national policy provides the framework for the development of services for children with life-limiting conditions and their families. The policy does not recommend the development of a children’s hospice but rather places significant emphasis on supporting families and health care professionals to provide care for children in their own homes.
A programme of care for children with life-limiting conditions is being jointly funded by the HSE and the Irish Hospice Foundation. The programme has funded the appointment in 2011 of the first Paediatric Consultant with a Special Interest in Palliative Care based in Crumlin, as well as eight Children’s Outreach Nurses whose role is to ensure that children being cared for at home by their families have access to co-ordinated and supportive services.