Roscommon Palliative Care Support Unit changing patients’ lives

Geraldine Keane, Assistant Director of Nursing, Nicola Beirne, Staff Nurse, Louise Kelly HCA & Michelle Mulkeen, Senior Medical Social Worker

The new Palliative Care Support Unit (PSCU) in Roscommon is providing life changing care patients and their families since opening its doors in February of this year.

The eight bed Unit which is under the clinical and operational governance of Roscommon University Hospital, and jointly funded by Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, has seen nearly half of patients discharged home after receiving palliative care support. 

Ursula Morgan, Director of Nursing Roscommon University Hospital, Teresa McCormack CNM1, Eileen Hester HCA & Ruth Madden Staff Nurse

The team at the unit provide much more than just medical interventions for patients and their families. 

Patients who attend the Unit are over 18 years of age with a progressive life limiting illness.

The unit has provided care to patients with a wide range of conditions, including advanced cancer, cardiac and respiratory failure and people with advanced neurological illness. 

Staff provide support for anticipated complexities relating to symptom control, end of life care planning or other physical, psychological or spiritual needs.

The Palliative Care Support Unit provides inpatient palliative care services for patients in Roscommon and the surrounding areas as well as facilitating referrals from Beaumont, the Mater, and St Vincent’s Hospitals.

Martina Jennings, CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice, said, “In the Palliative Care Support Unit, we provide 24 hour nursing care with medical support provided by Palliative Medicine Consultants. We also provide occupational therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapy, speech and language therapy, dietetics, social work, pastoral care and a chaplaincy service. A volunteer service is currently being organised to provide extra services to enhance the patient and family experience. 

“Our team has provided date nights for couples where we’ve arranged dinner, flowers and candles as well as an afternoon tea for a lady who missed out on a planned holiday with her friends. It’s so important to keep things as relatively normal as possible and the Unit is like a home from home rather than a hospital setting.”

Geraldine Keane, Assistant Director of Nursing in Palliative Care at Roscommon University Hospital said, “The Palliative Care Support Unit provides respectful, dignified, holistic care to patients who are admitted. This model of care helps improve quality of life by addressing physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Patients can come to the unit for respite care, symptom control as well as end of life care. Forty per cent of patients to date have been discharged home with the support of the community palliative care team and services. We pride ourselves in providing a homely pleasant environment not just for the patient but for families who can use the overnight facilities to stay if they wish. 

“Feedback from patients and families has been extremely positive as described by one patient aa “a haven of peace, comfort and tranquillity with such professional pleasant caring staff.‘

It is a privilege to be part of this wonderful team providing such an essential invaluable service made possible by the ongoing support of the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation under the governance of Roscommon University Hospital.”