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P-152 The legacy of the nothern ireland conflict in palliative care
  1. Brendan O’Hara
  1. All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, Dublin, Ireland


Background Understanding the impact of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’/‘conflict’ on a particular area of health care – palliative care – which has received little, if any, previous research focus. The research was carried out for a dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Philosophy.

Aim(s) To investigate how the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict may be encountered by professionals providing palliative care – to those they are caring for who may have been directly/indirectly affected (victims/survivors) and those involved in inflicting damage, death and/or injury. To investigate how the distinct context of Northern Ireland has impacted on palliative care practice.

Method Interviews were carried out with nine professionals with experience and interest in the provision of support to people with palliative care needs. Participants reflected experience across a wide geography of Northern Ireland including the region’s two major cities, four of the region’s five health and social care trust areas, and four of the five inpatient hospice facilities. Participants included: three nurses; two doctors; a social worker; a chaplain; a complementary therapist and a welfare officer.

Results This research opened up a dialogue between the disciplines of peacebuilding and palliative care. The language of legacy, narrative, life story and peacebuilding is one which the palliative care community understands.

The impact of the Troubles has had an effect on the delivery of palliative care, through the attitudes and influences on those who provide the care and those they care for.

Conclusion The influences of the religious divide, the silencing, and the traumas of the past are not something that the care-giver is apart from – they are very much influenced by them. The sensitivities around the Catholic/Protestant divide, the silencing, and restricting opportunities to talk about ‘Troubles’-related trauma, could prevent people from having appropriate palliative care.

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