- Palliative Care in NI
- Information & Services
Who needs palliative and end of life care?
Good quality palliative care should be available to everyone who needs it.
Everyone suffering from an incurable progressive illness should receive palliative and subsequent end of life care. Palliative care has been developed from the support and and care of people living with cancer but it can help those with, for example, advanced heart failure, motor neurone disease or AIDS.
Approximately 15,000 people die in Northern Ireland each year. The main causes of death are circulatory diseases (35% of deaths); cancer related deaths (26%) and respiratory diseases (14%). Changing demographics mean that people are living longer and often with one or more chronic conditions. As a result, over time increasing numbers of people will require more complex care for longer. The symptoms experienced by people living with chronic conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, heart failure, and all other neurological and degenerative diseases, often equals that of people with cancer and may often be of longer duration.
Studies by the National Council for Palliative Care highlight that approximately two thirds (9,570) of people dying in Northern Ireland every year would benefit from a level of palliative care during the last year of life .
By 2017, projections for the regional population (based on the 2006 mid-year population estimates) suggest that 310,000 people in Northern Ireland will be aged 65 and over - this represents 16% of the total population. It is within this section of the population that the highest incidence and mortality from cancer and other chronic conditions exists. Given that the prevalence of chronic conditions and dementia increases with age, demand for palliative and end of life care services is likely to increase as the population ages and more people live with the consequences of physical and cognitive frailty.