Significant increase in cancer patients who want to die at home due to Covid hospital restrictions

Irish Cancer Society appeals for more nurses to allow patients to spend their final days with family

Visiting restrictions in hospitals have led to an increase in people wanting to spend their final days at home, according to the Irish Cancer Society.

The Society has experienced a surge in requests for home-based palliative care but is currently struggling to recruit nurses to fulfill demand. Requests for the Night Nursing service have increased by almost 50% in some parts of the country when compared with 2019.
The increase is being driven by the restricted visiting arrangements in hospitals due to Covid-19, according to the Society’s Director of Services Delivery Donal Buggy:

“Family members naturally wish to be close to their loved ones in their final days and hours, but sadly current restrictions around Covid-19 mean that for many this is simply not possible in the hospital environment at the moment,” he said, adding:

“This has led to our Night Nursing Service experiencing a significant increase in requests for end-of-life care in the home for cancer patients since the start of this year; in Kildare demand is up by almost 50% compared to last year, with 20% more requests received in Dublin compared with 2019.

“We urgently need more Night Nurses to allow us to keep offering this valuable service to anyone who needs it.”

The Night Nursing Service provides free care to palliative patients being cared for by family and friends in their homes.  The service gives help and support to these carers, especially at the advanced stage of the patient’s illness.

Dublin woman Tracey Kinsella has spoken of the importance of having an Irish Cancer Society Night Nurse by her father Robert’s side during his last days in August.

“When Annemarie, our Night Nurse, came to our home, she took us all under her wing. She made dad comfortable and gave us all such vital reassurance,” she said.

“One aspect of our Night Nurse that I found so amazing was how she spoke to my sleeping dad with so much dignity. She constantly told him the family was around him and that we would all be fine.

“Support, dignity, understanding and expert knowledge. That’s exactly what Annemarie, our Night Nurse, brought into our family home. We all knew we’d be okay for those hours she was there during the night time.”

The Night Nursing Service is always complementary to the community Palliative Care Team or the community Primary Care Team.

Details on applying for Night Nurse positions can be found on or by emailing


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