Taoiseach appoints Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell to lead review of end-of-life services in all Government Departments

Categories: Policy.

Senator O’Donnell has told ehospice that the review will identify best practice and suggest areas for improvement. In particular she will examine whether there is clear information available to people in relation to services and supports at a time when they are under such considerable stress.

The review will be both internal and external and Senator O’Donnell will report her findings to the Taoiseach.

The internal procedures will look at how public servants deal with issues relating to dying, death and bereavement within their own Departments.

The external procedure will involve asking all Government Departments to examine their interaction with, and services to, the public in relation to end of life issues.  

As the Minister for Health has initiated a review of health services in this regard,

Senator O’Donnell’s work will not include services coming under the remit of the Department of Health and the HSE.

As part of the process Senator O’Donnell will engage with all Government Departments, The Forum on End of Life and bodies, organisations and individuals whose research, experience and expertise can both shape and impact future Government Policy.

In a Private Members Motion put forward last year, Senator O’Donnell asked the Government to explore the possibility of an overarching strategy on end of life and bereavement.  Such a strategy would have regard for the wider societal issues arising, including legal, financial, economic, educational and cultural aspects.  The Motion was accepted by the Government.

In announcing the review Mr Kenny said:  “It is my wish that every citizen in the country can die in comfort and dignity – where possible in a place of their choosing. And it is also my wish that every citizen can get the support and services they need when they, or members of their family, are on their own end of life journey.”

Welcoming the Taoiseach’s support for the initiative, Senator O’Donnell said: “Contributors to the 2013 hearings on palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children identified that end-of-life issues are wider than health care.  Dying, death and bereavement cannot be neatly packaged and handed over to the palliative care services, or the health service generally, as their exclusive remit and responsibility.”

“If our approach to dying is to be truly holistic, it must broadly move beyond the clinical, medical and caring areas into an understanding of what is needed around death. Dying, death and bereavement affect us all. They are our responsibility as citizens and as human beings, employers and employees, law-makers and law enforcers, public servants and private citizens, teachers and pupils, colleagues and friends. It is our responsibility because we interact in all of those roles, personally and professionally, with our fellow human beings facing or dealing with dying, death and bereavement.”

“The State interacts with the dying, the dead and the bereaved. I am honoured and pleased to be part of this important initiative which will, I hope, contribute to identifying all the components of a comprehensive end-of-life strategy and the actions required to ensure better end of life for all.


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