Creating Conversations Around Palliative & End of Life Care

The sixth annual Palliative Care Week coordinated by All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) is taking place from 8 to 14 September 2019. The week aims to raise awareness of the difference palliative care can make to people with any life-limiting illness or condition, to carers and to families throughout the island of Ireland.

This year’s theme is ‘Palliative Care: Surrounding You With Support’, focusing on how people with palliative care needs are being supported in the community. This can involve support from primary care (such as GPs, public health nurses, district nurses), from hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and wider community supports beyond formal health and social care services. Support can be provided for weeks, months and years.

People with palliative care needs are featuring in the campaign including Ballymena couple, Rosemary and Tony O’ Mullan.

Tony comes from a farming family based in Dunloy, Co Antrim, and was a full-time farmer until his diagnosis in 2017. He attended his GP when he didn’t feel well enough to attend a family dinner and following extensive tests was diagnosed with two different types of cancer.  He explains: “It was a very mixed up sort of a diagnosis. There were two different complaints. There was myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells), a treatable type of cancer. So when I heard I had cancer, well not the greatest thing in the world. But then when I heard that it was treatable, ah well, we’ll have a go. And here I am, living when I should be somewhere else.”

Following Tony’s initial treatment, Rosemary explained how invaluable the palliative care he received from the Marie Curie community nursing team was.  She said, “The (chemotherapy) was very, very severe on him and then he got home he wasn’t able to climb stairs or anything. So he got the hospital bed and Marie Curie girls stepped in immediately. I mean, they were just amazing.”

Tony continued, “If I wasn’t getting the care I’m getting I’m not so sure where I would be. I don’t think I’d be lying here. The family are important too. I can stay at home. Rosemary can stay at home. The whole family is all a unit.”

Brendan O’Hara is a programme manager at All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, which is coordinating Palliative Care Week. Thanking the O’Mullan family and all those from across Ireland who have spoken of their palliative care experiences for this year’s campaign, Brendan said it was important for people to have these conversations.

Brendan said: “We are keen to create more conversations around palliative care and Tony and Rosemary O’Mullan’s story will contribute to this. These conversations need to take place across the palliative care sector, across the wider health and social care system, and across the whole of society. As we create conversations around palliative care, particularly involving people with direct experience, we hope more people will feel empowered to think about how palliative care could help them.”

To view Tony and Rosemary’s video and the videos of all those who are taking part in the Palliative Care Week campaign click here

For more information on palliative care in general, visit