Palliative Care aims to improve the quality of life for patients and families who face a life-threatening illness such as cancer by providing pain and symptom relief, with spiritual and psychosocial support from diagnosis to end of life and bereavement. Palliative care is a team approach to patient care, addressing patients and their care givers physical, emotional, practical and spiritual needs. Palliative care has not traditionally been associated with diseases other than cancer but in recent years has expanded to diseases such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia and chronic neurological disorders. Clinical need for effective palliative care will therefore inevitably increase.
Offaly Hospice Foundation is a registered charity founded in 1990 by a group of likeminded Medical Doctors keen to see Palliative Care Services improved for the people of County Offaly. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors and over the years has tirelessly fundraised with all monies used to support the local Palliative care teams in the community. Funds raised by Offaly Hospice Foundation have been used to employ Specialist Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Home Carers and Secretarial back up for the Palliative Care Service. At this point we have an excellent Home Care Service, the envy of many other areas in the country which in truth would not exist without support and financial back-up from Offaly Hospice Foundation.
The 2001 Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care in Ireland set out the clinical and strategic importance of a Specialist Palliative Care in-Patient Unit and the structure of such a Unit. The report emphatically stated that every region in Ireland should have a Specialist Palliative Care In-Patient Unit. Nineteen years later the Midlands remains the only region in the country without one. The absence of a Specialist Palliative Care Unit is a major deficit in the on-going provision of Palliative care services in the Midlands Region and a deficit that needs to be corrected. In response to this critical situation, Offaly Hospice Foundation in April 2019 launched the Midlands Hospice Building Fund. The aim of the Fund is to raise enough money through charitable donations to fund the building and equipping of a Specialist Palliative Care Unit that would provide first class services now and into the future for patients and families in the Midlands region. To help kick start the Midlands Hospice Building Fund and signal our intent, Offaly Hospice Foundation has transferred €500,000, effectively half our bank reserves, to the Fund. The cost of building a Midlands Specialist Palliative Care In-Patient Unit is difficult to estimate but could be upwards on 10 million Euros.
All money raised locally stays locally and goes directly back to fund local Hospice Care Services.