What is Palliative Care?

What is palliative care?

Palliative care supports those facing a life limiting or life-threatening illness that is progressive and cannot be cured as well as providing support to families, loved ones and care givers.

The focus of  palliative care is to improve quality of life and we aim to help patients to live with comfort, dignity and peace of mind, taking a holistic approach to meet the specialised needs of our patients and their families.

We are here to support at what can be a difficult and frightening time.  We relieve, and treat, as early as possible, the symptoms of disease and also provide psychological, social and spiritual supports.  Some people may have physical symptoms such as pain, sickness or shortness of breath.  Others may have worries or anxiety about the effects of their illness on them or their loved ones. For some, their illness may impact their beliefs or what they hold important. Often it is a combination of some or all of these concerns. Our care focuses on the person and what is important to them with an emphasis on living every day to the best of their ability. We also support family and caregivers through this experience and work with those grieving the death of a loved one.

Palliative care can be delivered by hospital teams, GPs, primary care teams or the care team in a nursing home or community hospital. The palliative care services at Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services are called ‘specialist’ because our whole focus is on palliative care and we have developed this expertise through many years of experience and training.

We provide specialist palliative care in each of our three locations; Harold’s Cross, Blackrock and Wicklow, making us the largest provider in Ireland and we support over 4,000 patients and their families every year.

We are closely linked to St James’ Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital, St Columcille’s Hospital, St Michael’s Hospital and private Dublin hospitals.

Understanding palliative care

A hospice is a place of care for those with life-limiting illness. We call our three facilities Hospices or Palliative Care Units.

Patients coping with many different conditions and illnesses can access palliative care. All Palliative Care patients have a life-limiting condition – an illness or disease which is progressive and cannot be cured. Many patients have advanced cancer but there are many with other illnesses, such as motor neuron disease or severe heart or lung disease.

Patients attend at different stages of their illness – some will have months or years to live while others may have only days or weeks. Many are also attending hospital for other specialist treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This may be where they first meet our consultants. Some attend because they have difficult symptoms like pain or nausea. Others may be frail and need specialist support to care for themselves.

Our services are available to people of all faiths and no faiths.

You can access palliative care at any age and at any stage after your diagnosis. Getting palliative care at an early stage can sometimes help to better manage your symptoms. This can help you to be more comfortable and have a better quality of life.

Some people are referred by their GP because their symptoms are difficult to manage. Others meet our consultants in hospitals where they are being treated.

Depending on your needs, you may move in and out of palliative care. If your condition changes or stabilises our specialised involvement may no longer be necessary. If this happens you may return to the care of your GP and other specialists.

We believe palliative care can make all the difference. Palliative care can help you live as actively as possible. We give practical advice and provide on-going support to your family and carers. We have everyone’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing at the heart of what we do. We listen to your needs and those of your family and caregivers.

Palliative care gives you, and those close to you, the time to do and talk about what matters to you most. It can help you and your family feel more comfortable and more in control.

Consultants in Palliative Medicine lead our Specialist Palliative Care services. Patient care is provided by a multi-disciplinary team. This team is made up of people with different skills, who work with community and hospital services.

Explore more

What we do

We provide Specialist Palliative Care in both our in-patient unit as well as in patient’s own homes.

Our Specialist Team

Our multi-disciplinary specialist team include both clinical and non-clinical staff.

How to be referred

Patients requiring our specialist support are referred to our team by their GP or hospital Consultant.

Palliative Care Patient Resources

Resources for patients and those caring for loved ones.

Bereavement Support

We provide bereavement support for those whose relative or friend was cared for by Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services.


Practical information for those being cared for at Harold’s Cross Hospice.

Contact us

Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services
Harold’s Cross
D6W RY72