We provide specialist Palliative Care services for adults with life-limiting conditions and their families. This care is carried out by a multidisciplinary team, in partnership with other community and hospital services. We take a holistic approach to care, aiming to meet the needs of both patient and family. These needs, which can be physical, emotional, social and spiritual, are treated through a variety of services.

These include:

  • Inpatient care in our specialist Palliative Care Unit.
  • Support for family (including children) and carers.
  • Community services: supporting care at home through the Specialist Community Palliative Care team.
  • Community day services: Day Hospice and outpatient clinics.
  • Close links to acute hospital services at St James’s Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, St Michael’s Hospital and St Columcille’s Hospital.
  • Bereavement support.
  • Specialist respite care admissions.
  • Twenty-four hour telephone support for community-based patients and their carers.
  • Close links to radiotherapy services at St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Centre.
  • Specialist social work support and access to psychology services, where needed.
  • X-ray facilities available one day a week (Harold’s Cross site only).
  • Practical help, advice and information.
  • Provision of specialist therapies, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and complementary therapy.
  • Links with interventional pain services, through acute hospitals.
  • Chaplaincy support.
  • Provision of information, support, education and training to carers, where needed.
  • Services located on Harold’s Cross and Blackrock sites.

Please note we do not have the specialist equipment to offer advanced life support and resuscitation. If a patient wants these treatments, they will be transferred to an acute hospital.

The Team

All members of the multidisciplinary team work together to care for you during your inpatient stay. Your needs and wishes are central to what we do:  We encourage you to be involved in all decisions concerning your care. Family members are also welcome to take an active part in caring for you, if wished.

Assessment, Care Plan and Treatments

When you are admitted to the ward, we will make a full assessment of your needs, find out what issues are of particular concern and discuss what expectations or goals you have for your time here. Whereas most of the facts and details of this assessment take place when you are ‘admitted’ by the doctor and nurse together on arrival, much of this assessment actually takes place over the first days of your stay, as we get to know you and you us.

As a team, we will work with you to make an individualised care plan and establish some goals. All of our patients are different and have different problems. Examples of the types of treatments and therapies you might receive include:

Symptom Control

This means that we focus on your symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, breathlessness, pain, constipation, reduced mobility and anxiety. We endeavour to treat the underlying cause of the problem but also focus on specifically trying to relieve the symptom itself, using medication or other therapies. For example, should a patient feel short of breath due to cancer affecting the lungs, we may not be able to take away the cause of the breathlessness, but we can control the breathless sensation. In this way, you feel better and can get on with living with your illness.

Pain Control

Pain control is a part of symptom control. A number of different approaches may be used, including medications such as anti-inflammatories, opioids (morphine-based medicines), steroids and nerve painkillers. We may switch or rotate between using different medicines if side-effects result or a medication is not working as well as it should. Additionally, we may use different pain-medication delivery systems:  a patch or a continuous infusion, for example. We liaise closely with hospital-based anaesthetic Pain Team colleagues and radiotherapy colleagues, where indicated. Importantly, our approach includes consideration of non-medication approaches to pain control, through a holistic and therapy approach.

Rehabilitation

If you have noticed changes in your ability to complete your typical daily routines, we may be able to help. Rehabilitation in Palliative Care aims to address challenges you may be having as a result of your illness or the treatment of your illness.

We offer a specialist team approach that is built around you and your specific needs and wishes. At the core of this approach is your response to the following two important questions:

  • What would you like to be able to do?
  • What are you able to do?

Our rehabilitation programme takes into account your unique experiences in helping you achieve the goals of improving or maintaining your physical abilities, performing and engaging in activities that you really want to do or achieve.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Support

We offer psychosocial support and care to both you and your family/loved ones. This can help to improve your overall wellbeing and that of your family/loved ones at a time in your life when you are adjusting to change and loss. We recognise that you and your family/loved ones have your own resources and ways of coping, and we will work with you to help you manage the challenges that illness and loss bring.

Some of the services you and your family/loved ones may choose to avail of include:

  • Individual or group counselling for you or those close to you.
  • Advice and support for children and others who may have difficulty with understanding illness and coping with loss.
  • Support and guidance about communicating important issues at a potentially stressful time.
  • Advice and assistance in identifying and securing practical and financial resources or entitlements.
  • Advocating (speaking up for your best interests) and contacting other agencies on your behalf.
  • Support for carers.
  • Family meetings where you and your family/loved ones have the opportunity to meet those involved in your care, ask questions, share information, wishes and choices and agree a plan of care in partnership with the team.

Spiritual beliefs and faith can be a source of strength, however living with a serious illness can cause you to question your beliefs. We provide support for you and your family/loved one in your search for meaning and hope.

Specific Therapies

Dependent on individual needs, these include:

  • Antibiotics (oral or intravenous).
  • Wound care, with particular care and expertise in cancer-related wounds.
  • Medication infusions (single or via continuous subcutaneous infusion pump).
  • Blood transfusion.
  • Management of feeding tubes and other forms of nutrition or hydration, where appropriate.
  • Management of stoma care, tracheostomy care.