33 The legacy of the northern ireland conflict in palliative care


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Abstract

IntroductionUnderstanding 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 investigate how the distinct context of Northern Ireland has impacted on palliative care practice.MethodInterviews were carried out with nine professionals with experience and interest in the provision of support to people living with a terminal illness.Participants reflected experience from voluntary and statutory services and across a wide geography of Northern Ireland. Participants included: three nurses; two doctors; a social worker; a chaplain; a complementary therapist and a welfare officer.ResultsThis research opened up a dialogue between the disciplines of peacebuilding and palliative care. 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.ConclusionThe 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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