‘Every moment matters’


COMFORT One of the state of the art rooms available to patients at the Mayo Hospice

Michael Gallagher visits the Mayo Hospice to mark Palliative Care Week 2021

The Mayo Hospice has a special place in our hearts. It’s there in the back of our minds; it’s there on the periphery of our psyche - a place we care about, a place we hear about, a place many of us have no real understanding of.
Therefore, an invitation to visit the facility, talk to the staff and experience the atmosphere was gratefully accepted by The Mayo News last week. We weren’t sure what to expect, we were a little apprehensive, but the experience, the positivity, the care, compassion and respect within the walls left an indelible impression.
“Our motto is ‘Every Moment Matters’ and that’s exactly how things are done in here,” Donna Lynott, one of the Clinical Nurse Managers stated.
“There’s a general feeling in the community that our facilities are only used for end-of-life care but there’s so much more happening in here too. We support people to have the best quality of life and for many that means being at home,” she added.
As if to emphasise her point, a patient was leaving the facility as we spoke, on their way home to spend quality time in their own environment, in their own circle. As Ms Lynott had said - every moment matters.
“Of course, we’re dealing with patients with life-limiting illness and everyone is acutely aware of that but there are days when laughter echoes through the corridors and we love that. We have had patients in here who hosted parties for their friends and to experience moments like that is very special.”
Palliative Care focuses on the prevention and relief of suffering by means of assessing and treating pain and other physical, psychosocial or spiritual problems.
The care also extends support to families to help them cope with their family member’s illness and their own experience of grief and loss, according to Dan Keane, Director of Education with Galway Hospice Foundation.
“Many people mistakenly believe that palliative care can only be accessed when other treatments are no longer possible. Actually, palliative care can be provided to people of any age and at any stage of their illness. Providing palliative care at an early stage in a person’s illness, for example, while using therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation can help to better manage symptoms and complications,” he explained.
A tour of the facility is eye-opening. All 14 en-suite bedrooms have access to outdoor patios. There’s hugely impressive physiotherapy and occupational therapy department, internal gardens and courtyards, a reflection room and three outdoor relaxation pods.
Admissions to the Mayo Hospice are considered for symptom control, care in dying, re-enablement/rehabilitation, step-down care from acute settings and respite. The superb facility was opened in March 2021 and to see it in operation was a joy to behold.
The dignity, realism and positivity evident within the walls gave a whole new perspective to patient care and the vivacity and attitude of the staff added hugely to the whole experience.
The Mayo Hospice does indeed have a special place in our hearts and now the support systems have been further boosted by a novel Palliative Care course under the stewardship of Dr Maura Fitzsimons at GMIT Castlebar.
This course is designed to equip staff to gain competence in delivering palliative care as appropriate to their role and place of work. Some staff may choose to complete the 13-week certificate in palliative care but for others there is the possibility of completing the one-year Postgraduate Diploma or the two-year Masters’ Degree programme.
This course is open to applicants from all healthcare disciplines (Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Social Workers, etc.) but also is open to non-clinical staff (eg Receptionists and general support staff) who want to develop their knowledge of palliative care.

Mayo Hospice Inpatient unit services
• Nurses and health care assistants
• Occupational therapist
• Physiotherapist
• Pharmacist – not a dispensing pharmacy
• Doctors
• Social Workers
• Chaplain
• Art therapist
• Aromatherapist