Above - The South Tipp Hospice team with the Irish Healthcare Award that it received earlier this year for its computerised patient management system. Front, Trish Phelan, Anne Grace, Susanne Collins and Aisling Fanning. Back, Mary Connolly, Mags Fitzgerald, Sinaida Jansen, Marie Harold Barry, Nora Lyne and Mary McNamara. 'That's Entertainment', a fundraising concert for Hospice takes place at Hotel Minella this Friday night.
A team of dedicated healthcare professionals has been making a huge difference to the lives of people in South Tipperary and West Waterford for more than a quarter of a century.
South Tipperary Hospice, which was established 26 years ago, offers an around the clock service every day of the year - one of the few home care teams in the country to do so - to a catchment area of approximately 25,000 square kilometres with a population of 100,000.
At any one time it looks after 100 terminally-ill patients with various levels of need.
It costs €660,000 to run Hospice in South Tipperary each year, only a third of which is provided by the HSE.
The shortfall is made up by the generosity of the people of South Tipperary and surrounding areas, and a major fundraiser is being held at Hotel Minella, Clonmel this Friday night, November 17th.
The 'That's Entertainment' concert has been organised for the past three years by Sean O'Donovan, who was inspired by the exceptional care that his late mother Teresa received from Hospice home care nurses in the final stage of her life.
This year's event will be headlined by Two and a Half Tenors, supported by St. Mary's Choral Society, Clonmel; Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society and the Cashel branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.
Tickets for the show cost €20 and are on sale from Marian's, O'Connell Street, Clonmel.
Hospice has a home care team with five full-time clinical nurse specialists; a clinical nurse manager, Mary Connolly; a secretary, an administrative manager and steering committee, part of which is a fundraising committee.
The team is clinically led by consultant Dr. Emmet Walls, who is based at University Hospital Waterford and who attends the Hospice office at Mandeville House, The Quay, Clonmel one day every week for a multi-disciplinary team meeting, at which patients' needs are discussed.
"Hospice is all about individual patient-care and catering for the patient's individual needs.It's not a one-size-fits-all", says clinical nurse manager Mary Connolly.
Every referral to Hospice has to come from a GP. People who cannot be cured of illnesses and conditions ranging from cancer and end-stage Parkinson's to stroke victims are offered specialist palliative care.
The home care team visits patients in their homes, district hospitals and nursing homes, including patients in palliative care in St. Theresa's Hospital in Clogheen, St. Bridget's Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir and Cluain Arainn community nursing unit in Tipperary town, with the Hospice team supporting the nurses and staff in each unit.
As well as calling to people and influencing their care in a positive way, support and advice is also offered to patients and their families, which they find invaluable.
Mary Connolly describes the job as very demanding, one that carries a huge responsibility and which can be "emotionally-draining".
However she says they have a highly-skilled team that includes staff with specialist post-graduate qualifications and Masters degrees.
The local Hospice is one of the few teams in the country with a computerised patient management system. Staff have laptops, equipped with programmes that provide up-to-date information on patients and their condition, vital information that may be accessed remotely.
South Tipperary Hospice was given national recognition for this initiative when it was awarded the Irish Health Care 2017 award.
Raising funds for Hospice's vital work is a struggle, although Mary Connolly says that fundraisers also help keep Hospice's name "out there".
Other fundraisers include concerts, the annual garden party, Christmas cards and an afternoon tea event held recently in Kilcoran Lodge Hotel.
The Irish Cancer Society also funds ten nights for a nurse to visit patients in their homes from 11pm-7am.
"Hospice is evolving and we're always trying to improve the service", says Mary Connolly.
"We liaise very closely with all palliative care services around the country. It's ongoing".