Dr Kathleen McLoughlin, co-ordinator of Milford Care Centre’s Compassionate Communities Project in Limerick, received the Postdoctoral Fellowship Award.
The funding will enable Milford Care Centre’s Good Neighbour Partnership, a model of care and support for adults with advanced life limiting illness, to be evaluated by Maynooth University.
The Good Neighbour Partnership is a model of volunteer-led, practical and social support for people living at home in their last year of life. The model enables people living with unmet social and practical needs at home to make links with people living in their community who would like to help with activities such as shopping, collecting a prescription, lighting the fire, or sitting with a person who needs a break.
The Fellowship will be mentored by Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Maynooth University, Dr Sinead McGilloway. The research team includes national and international academics and practitioners who work in the field of public health, community development and palliative care.
Dr McLoughlin explained: “For most people, home is the preferred place of care and death. However, people who are dying and their families can experience great isolation and can feel shut out from their communities.”
Dr McGilloway added: “Evidence suggests that recognising the potential of informal support networks could help to ‘naturalise’ dying, offer better support to the person and their family and enable the choice to die at home.”
AIIHPC Head of Research, Dr Sonja McIlfatrick, highlighted the importance of this partnership with the Irish Cancer Society for progressing palliative care research both in Ireland and elsewhere. She said: “This research will provide very useful information on how we could augment existing palliative and primary care services to provide additional social and practical support to people living in the community in their last year of life.”
Irish Cancer Society Chief Executive, John McCormack, said: “We are delighted that this team has been awarded this Fellowship. We look forward to this opportunity to learn how we can ensure better experiences for patients and their families.”