Many people have a poor understanding of what palliative care is and who it is for, a new survey has found.
Palliative care aims to provide the best quality of life to any person - adult or child - with a non-curable or serious illness, including severe heart disease, dementia and motor neurone disease. People may be provided with this type of care for a varied time frame - from a few days to a few years.
However, the survey of 1,000 adults, which was carried out on behalf of the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC), found that only 57% of people knew that palliative care is beneficial for anyone with a non-curable condition, while just 16% realised it can be provided for years.
Only 45% were aware that palliative care also supports the family, friends and carers of ill people, while just 38% knew that palliative care focuses on all aspects of a person - their body, mind and spirituality.
According to AIIHPC director, Paddie Blaney, these findings suggest that the public needs to be better educated about palliative care.
To help increase the public's understanding of this issue, Ms Blaney is calling on people with serious illnesses, as well as their family, friends and carers, to take part in a survey on this topic.
"We want people to tell us more about their experiences - to share their stories about good and not so good experiences of palliative care. We need to move away from the misconception that palliative care is just for people who have cancer and are in their final weeks and days of life. This may be a sensitive and difficult topic to talk about, but it is vital we have these conversations," she said.
The survey can be completed here