A vast majority of people (70%) identified ‘pain management’ as the most important part of a good experience of palliative care in a survey of public understanding of the issue.
The survey found that 35 per cent of people were not aware that palliative care may be suitable for a number of years and 21 per cent were not aware that the approach supports family, friends and carers during an illness and afterwards.
The results of the survey, commissioned by All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC), were announced at the start of Palliative Care Week (October 3-8).
AIIHPC, Head of Institute, Karen Charnley said the survey showed the need for greater public understanding of the holistic approach of palliative care and of when it is appropriate.
“We are encouraging a greater understanding of how palliative care encompasses the full human needs of each person – physical, social, emotional and spiritual – to enable the best possible quality of life.
“Palliative care also supports clear and timely communication between patients and health and social care professionals. It places the person at the centre of every decision, helping them to plan for the future and make choices – and works together in these choices with families and carers.
“It is very important that pain management is available and effective, but a good palliative care experience integrates all of these elements of care. Palliative care may be beneficial for a number of years and responds appropriately to the differing needs of people as these change.
“We are urging the public to be informed, to discuss and to plan for all of the needs which a child, adult or older person has following diagnosis of an illness that will shorten of limit their life.”
The survey also found that more than half of adults surveyed in Ireland (55%) reported that they have a basic or minimal understanding of what palliative care involves. Eighty-five percent of respondents did not believe that there is sufficient public understanding of palliative care.
The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee, said she is supporting Palliative Care Week.
“Through our National Clinical Programme for Palliative Care, and by supporting Palliative Care Week, our aim is to alleviate fears and anxieties surrounding palliative care services. This will help ensure that people with life-limiting conditions and their families can access palliative care services that best meet their needs.”
HSE National Lead for Palliative Care, Sheilagh Reaper-Reynolds encouraged the public to find out more and to talk about palliative care within families and with health and social care professionals.
Many information events will take place during the week. Details of these as well as videos, leaflets and other information resources are available at www.thepalliativehub.com.
The research was carried out as part of an omnibus survey by iReach Insights on a representative sample of 1000 adults across Ireland.
The All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) aims to improve end-of-life care and experience on the island of Ireland by enhancing capacity, developing knowledge, promoting learning, influencing policy and shaping practice. AIIHPC is comprised of a consortium of Health Agencies and Universities in the North and South of Ireland and its work is focused on three areas – policy & practice, research and education.