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Strengthening Palliative and End of Life Care in Nursing Homes

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strengthening Palliative and End of Life Care in Nursing HomesDKIT

DkIT Nursing Lecturers Champion Project Focusing on Strengthening Palliative and End of Life Care in Nursing Homes.


Nursing Lecturers from Dundalk Institute of Technology were proud to be part of a recent Meitheal Project focusing on strengthening Palliative and End of Life Care in Nursing Homes. The Meitheal programme is an inspiring collaborative nurse led initiative, developed, delivered, and evaluated by nurses that supports and enables the delivery of good quality person centred care. The aim of the programme is to improve the quality and experience of palliative and end of life care for older people living with life -limiting illness in long term care settings by supporting and working in collaboration with staff, a further purpose of this project is to also reduce unnecessary admission to acute hospitals. This programme received support from the National Director for Primary Care, Winter Initiative Funding which enabled the appointment of 3 Meitheal Clinical Nurse Specialists in Louth, Meath, Cavan & Monaghan in 2016.

Meitheal is an old Irish term that describes how people come together to help one another out.  This concept describes helping your neighbour, who in turn helped you. It inherently refers to a group of people working together to provide support, assistance where and when needed. A strong Meitheal ethos can ensure that each and every one in our communities are included, succeeds and has the ability to flourish.

An evaluation of the Meitheal programme delivered in three Nursing Homes in Cavan & Monaghan was conducted by A. Reynolds and M. Colwell (Nursing lecturers from DkIT). Their findings demonstrated that a creative collaborative approach to Palliative Care and End of Life education and clinical support demonstrated significant positive outcomes for residents, their families and staff. A Director of Nursing from one of the nursing homes explains the powerful outcomes and feedback as a result of involvement in this programme, “I had long believed that the care we provide in nursing homes is palliative care. The Meitheal programme gave me as the Director of Nursing the opportunity to develop this belief with the staff and the ability to change our care culture.  This project supported us to update our documentation to reflect the Holistic care we provide and to acknowledge the things we do well and potentially identify what we needed to improve on. The overarching aim of this project is to enhance the resident’s experience of care in our Nursing Home”

Regional Specialist Palliative Care Services of Louth Meath Cavan Monaghan spokesperson said ‘We believe that everyone living and dying in Nursing Homes who requires a palliative care approach should have their needs met by competent staff at the appropriate level. This requires that we support staff in their delivery of Palliative Care through education, advice and formal and informal support. We knew before we started the Meitheal Programme, that education alone was not sufficient to change practice and that we needed to think differently, supporting and enabling the application of learning into practice, changing the culture of how Palliative Care is lived and experienced within the Nursing Home’

The difference the Meitheal Programme offers is the presence of the Meitheal Clinical Nurse Specialist who collaboratively works alongside nursing homes teams to develop healthful relationships that enables and supports them to improve the quality and experience of Palliative Care and end of life care for all their residents, families and staff. This approach enables the supportive integration of Palliative Care specialism with the specialism of gerontology.

Meithael Prrogramme

Ann Everitt-Reynolds (DkIT), Evelyn Sweeney Diver (CNM 3 Practice Development), Jennifer Richardson (Clinical Nurse Specialist Meitheal Programme) and Myles Hackett (DkIT).

The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected older people and has had a profound impact on the nursing home and residential care sector in Ireland. There is a need for healing and agreeing a plan forward. The future of the Meitheal programme is safely in the collective hands of those that can deliver- and will continue to build Coalitions of Success.

For further information please contact Eileen Carruthers, Director of Nursing, Regional Specialist Palliative Care Services. Email: [email protected]



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