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Dickson Commits His Support for a New Palliative Care Strategy for NI

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has signed up for a new palliative care strategy for Northern Ireland. An initiative championed by Marie Curie.

Mr Dickson said: “Northern Ireland has an aging population. As a result, more and more people are living – and living longer – with multiple chronic health conditions and complex needs. Many of these people will ultimately need to avail of palliative care, but unfortunately the structures to support this simply aren’t in place”.

Mr Dickson went on to discuss the ‘inertia’ surrounding the important issues of death, dying, and bereavement in government and in wider society.

He said: “As Marie Curie pointed out, the first draft of the NI Executive’s new Programme for Government Outcomes Framework didn’t say a single word about death, dying, or bereavement, while a commitment to fund service improvements in palliative care in the New Decade, New Approach deal has not been fulfilled”.

At present, it is estimated that 75% of the population will need to avail of palliative care services in their lifetime, with demand expected to grow considerably to 2040.

Mr Dickson concluded by saying: “We are failing a significant section of society, and must take steps to rectify this as soon as possible”.

Marie Curie has set out what element’s a Palliative Care Strategy should contain. The strategy should seek to:

  • Ensure equitable access to high quality care and support for everyone impacted by death, dying, and bereavement; whenever and wherever they need it, and regardless of their diagnosis, age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic group or other factors.

  • Tackle the wider social and non-clinical issues that heavily impact on someone’s end of life experience, including issues like access to welfare support, poverty and housing.

  • Reinforce existing programmes to promote public health approaches to palliative care, fostering openness in recognising and planning for death as part of the life cycle across all populations.

  • Provide proper support for end of life carers – ensuring they have access to the help they need to maintain their own health, wellbeing and quality of life.

  • Develop the necessary infrastructure to record and share data on palliative and end of life needs and outcomes across care settings.

  • Deliver high-quality and accessible bereavement support for everyone who needs it.

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