Hey Ireland!

Hey Ireland! October 1, 2010

(I love the Internet because I can write the above.)

When I was in Ireland a few years back, I had the privilege of meeting  one the members of your Seanad named Ronan Mullen, a terrific guy.  Anyway, I got this email from him, which I can do nothing about, but you Irish readers can:

Mark, a chara,

Tá súil agam go bhfuil tú go maith. I hope you don’t mind that I send you a quick update on a Private Members’ motion which I introduced in the Seanad last evening, with support from the Irish Hospice Foundation, about end-of-life care in Ireland.

How we treat people at the end of their lives says a lot about our society.
Hospitals and hospital staff may do their best, but far too often Irish people die in noisy, overcrowded multi-bed rooms more reminiscent of a busy bus station than a proper healthcare setting. Respect for privacy and human dignity is often lacking. People struggle to communicate above the sound of soap operas and soccer matches. As one person in the hospice movement put it, ‘While Mammy dies, Chelsea scores’.

When the Irish Hospice Foundation profiled the death of 1,000 persons in last year’s Audit of End of Life Care in Hospitals, they found that over half of patients died in multi-bed rooms. Only 20-30% of persons received specialist palliative care while as many as 25% may have died alone.

So in our Seanad motion last night we urged the Government to make end-of-life care a core service of hospitals, to introduce national guidelines and standards for end-of-life care in all healthcare settings, and to enable patients to receive end-of-life care in their own home whenever that’s possible.

Below you will find the main points of my private members’ motion, my speech in the Seanad and a press release we sent out.

If you see fit to contact the Minister for Health and/or your local TDs and Senators to express your support, that would be great. The Government’s response last evening was rather lukewarm, so it may be important to point out that what we are proposing need not involve significant cost, bearing in mind the economic challenges we face.

Ná bí leisce ort dul i dteangbháil liom más féidir liom cabhrú leat ar aon chaoi.

With best wishes,


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