Palliative Care Week 2021: It’s more than you think

13/09/2021

This week we are supporting the 8th annual Palliative Care Week, which is to be held from 12-18 September 2021.

Palliative Care Week is facilitated by the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC), with the theme this year being “Palliative Care: It’s more than you think.”

The AIIHPC is a leading organisation representing hospices, health and social care organisations and universities on the island of Ireland with national and international influence driving excellence in palliative care. The aim of Palliative Care Week is to raise awareness of the difference palliative care can make to people with life-limiting conditions, carers and families throughout the island of Ireland.

A central element of this year’s message centres on the results of a recent survey carried out by AIIHPC, which reveals that: One in three people would think that they only had days to live if their doctor or healthcare professional talked to them about palliative care.

These findings have underlined why a broadening of understanding of palliative care is required in society.

As Palliative Care Week 2021 gets underway, it is clear that misunderstandings persist about palliative care, which is why this year’s theme of “Palliative Care: It’s more than you think” is particularly important.

The survey results, conducted across Northern Ireland this summer on behalf of the AIIHPC, also shows that more than one in four people would think that their doctor is giving up on them if their doctor or healthcare professional talked to them about palliative care.

And yet, most importantly, four in five people with a serious illness would like their doctor or healthcare professional to speak with them about palliative care.

Palliative Care Week takes place across the island of Ireland from Sunday 12th to Saturday 18th September, all aimed at turning the spotlight onto palliative care and raising awareness of the difference palliative care can make to people with life-limiting conditions, carers and families throughout the island of Ireland.

Misunderstanding about palliative care persists, meaning some people who could benefit are less willing to seek it, potentially missing out on improved quality of life.

 

John McGarvey, Assistant Director for Intermediate Care and Rehabilitation, Western Trust said:

“This year’s theme ‘Palliative Care: It’s more than you think” will raise awareness of the wide range of supports which can be mobilised by health and social care professionals, to help people with palliative care needs and their loved ones to live as well as possible.”

“People with palliative care needs are being supported by the whole community beyond formal health and social care services. A personalised network of support can involve a broad range of professionals from primary care (such as GP’s and District Nurses), family and friends and the wider community, supporting a person whether they are at home, in hospital, in a nursing home or hospice.”

“We want people to have a better understanding of palliative care, so if the need arises for themselves or someone close to them, they will feel able to discuss it with their loved ones and health professionals. We would encourage the members of our community to speak with their GP or any other healthcare professional if you think palliative care could help you or someone you love.”

Palliative Care Week 2021 will include a series of online information sessions and webinars, aimed at professionals, carers and indeed palliative care patients covering a wide range of topics.

Emma King, Macmillian Specialist Palliative Care Team Manager with the Western Trust, is confident that Palliative Care Week will indeed help people realise that “It’s more than you think.”

“So often, people think that palliative care is only available at end of life, but it can benefit people at all stages of illness, and people of all ages. It can be provided for years, with some people having long periods of being well, moving in and out of palliative care services, depending on their needs at that particular point in time.

“It improves the quality of life of family carers as well as the quality of life of the person with palliative care needs, and can be received in a hospice/specialist palliative care unit, a hospital, nursing home or at the person’s own home, again depending on the needs of the individual.

“For us, Palliative Care Week is about showing people that palliative care is about more than just end of life care, and indeed more than just treating physical symptoms. It’s about caring for the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the person and those important to them, hopefully making things that little bit easier.”

For more information on Palliative Care Week 2021 and a full list of events, visit the Palliative Care Hub.