€1million boost for hospice care

MORE than €1 million is set to be invested by Laois Hospice into the improved care of people dying from cancer and other terminal illness.

MORE than €1 million is set to be invested by Laois Hospice into the improved care of people dying from cancer and other terminal illness.

The five-year deal with the HSE’s Midlands palliative care team runs to 2017 and will see the charity spending €206,000 each year on key areas identifed in a report on Hospice service. The spending also doubles Laois Hospice’s annual contribution to palliative care services in Laois.

The money, which has been donated in Laois, will be invested on a range of services to help patients and families.

The Hospice is set to double its spending on palliative care nursing salaries to €132,000 annually. This will allow an extra nurse to be recruited to four nurses.

Home care in Laois is fully funded by Laois Hospice and €25,000 extra will be spend in this area each year. This is a crucial service to families as it allows a loved one to be cared for at home.

In a move to free up nursing time on patient care, the hospice is to commit €15,000 annually to cover half of the cost of a palliative care team secretary.

Each year €4,000 will go to a bereavement counselling services to help families overcome their loss. A counsellor will meet if a family feels help is needed.

Finally, there will be a €30,000 annual donation towards palliative care at the Cuisle Centre in Portlaoise.

Spending of the cash begins this month and the commitments made have been agreed with the HSE’s palliative care team in the midlands led by Dr Michael Cushen.

Seamus O’Donoghue, chairman of Laois Hospice and Mr Peter Naughton, the medical director outlined the project to the Leinster Express.

Mr Naughton said the Hospice is responding to tougher financial times but is also meeting the needs identifed.

“The palliative care team in the midlands recently did a review of the service of the patients and relatives needs. This study indicated that extra nursing time was needed and extra home help was needed...We are responding to the study by providing the extra spend for services,” he said.

The palliative care report also revealed that there were no day care facilities or supportive services for patients requiring palliative care. In reply, Mr Naughton said one day a week will not be set aside for week at Portlaoise’s Cuisle Centre for day services for people with palliative care. Therapists will be available in the centre or can travel to a patient’s home. This new service is totally funded by Laois Hospice.

Laois Hospice agreed at its July AGM to to respond to the extra needs in the report. There have also been meetings where spending on services was agreed with Dr Cushen and his team.

The money used for the services is drawn from ongoing support and prudent management.

“We have some very good people who support us on a regular basis and that coupled with prudent housekeeping, we guarantee this money,” said Mr Naughton.

To ensure that the money is spent as agreed, Mr O’Donoghue said Laois Hospice will meet with the palliative care team every six months.

“We have to know that the money is being spent in those areas otherwise it will not be forthcoming the following year,” he said.

Last year €150,000 but the annual average is €100,000. Mr O’Donughue said there is a constant need help.

“If there are other needs and people get in touch with the palliative care team Laois Hospice will not be found wanting,” he said.

Mr O’Donoghue said Laois Hospices is “100 per cent volunatary”. He thanked the committee and the people of Laois for allowing the project to proceed.

Mr Naughton said there will be no great difficulty in extending it beyond five years.