The Irish Cancer Society says due to hospital restrictions on visitors, more people than ever want to die at home.
The Society is seeking to recruit more nurses in the east of the country to meet the increasing demand for its Night Nursing Service.
Without access to qualified nursing staff, the Society fears it won’t be able to facilitate the wishes of many end-of-life cancer patients.
Demand for the Society’s Night Nursing Service, which provides end-of-life care to patients in their own home, jumped by over a fifth last year as patients sought to spend their final days in the company of their family.
Requests for the free service for patients being cared for by family and friends in their homes surged by as much as 76% in Kildare, 70% in Wicklow and 60% in Dublin. Demand has continued into the early months of 2021 with more nurses needed in almost all parts of the country.
Irish Cancer Society Director of Services Delivery Donal Buggy said: “Over the last year we have recruited more nurses than ever and some of our nurses have even postponed their retirement to help with delivering the service, but we still don’t have enough.
“We know that dying at home surrounded by friends and family can provide such comfort to patients, and we want to ensure that we can keep providing such a vital support for anyone who might need it.”
Night nurse Anna Drynan Gale who covers much of the southeast region has witnessed first-hand the unique challenges experienced by families with loved ones receiving end-of-life care during the Covid-19 pandemic:
“With a growing number of families choosing to bring family members home to die, having a night nurse enables them to do this for loved ones who in other circumstances might have remained in hospital,” she said, adding:
“Families want and need to be together, they want to be close, they want to be present. They are especially grateful for the support, expertise and professionalism that night nurses bring in what can be a very daunting and emotional time. It is such a rewarding job, and the people we support are so appreciative of what we’re able to do for them.”
Antoinette Britton’s husband Brian received night nursing in 2018, and says the assistance her family was able to rely on was key: “Brian always said he wanted to die at home, but I was feeling very fearful and anxious about how we could make it work as we approached that stage. We were only able to do it thanks to the Irish Cancer Society’s Night Nursing Service.
“They made sure Brian had everything he needed in the end. It was wonderful because it meant we all had our own time and we could care for him until the end, but we also had that very necessary professional backup for things like medication,” she said.
The Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing Service is always complementary to the community Palliative Care Team or the community Primary Care Team.
People can help fund services such as night nursing by supporting Daffodil Day 2021, kindly supported by Boots on Friday 26th March. You can donate at www.Cancer.ie/DaffodilDay, visit our Daffodil Day shop or host a virtual event. Find out more at www.Cancer.ie.