L-R: John McGinn, Life & Time, Dr. Henry McLaughlin, Life & Time, Dr. John Shannon, Rathfriland Health Centre & Connie Connolly, Nursing Manager with Life & Time

Life & Time, the charity which delivers extra ‘End of Life’ care in the Warrenpoint, Burren and Rostrevor region, is preparing to expand its services to the Hilltown, Rathfriland and Mayobridge area.

The plans, still at the inception stage, will mean Life & Time could provide additional end of life care to support terminally ill patients who choose to die at home in the catchment of Rathfriland Health Centre.

Life & Time is a community-led initiative launched in 2018 by retired GP Doctor Henry McLaughlin and a group from the Warrenpoint, Burren, Rostrevor area, following a series of public consultations.

The Charity anticipated a similar public meeting to discuss plans to introduce the service in the Hilltown, Rathfriland and Mayobridge areas but have been hampered by the COVID Pandemic.

John McGinn, a member of the Voluntary Board of Directors, said: “ We’ve been working to expand the reach of the service for some time behind the scenes. The COVID Pandemic has obviously meant a public meeting is not possible but we hope to host a web forum in July to introduce the charity.”

“One of the key elements to bring us closer to delivery of the service on the ground is to recruit nursing professionals, who live locally, who are interested in working with us to support end of life care in the community,” John added.

The Life & Time service model is based on a bank of nursing staff living in the community being ‘on call’ during the hours of 10pm and 8am so they are able to respond  promptly to a patient /family call for support.

Life & Time Nurse Manager Connie Connolly explains: “Recruiting local nurses means Life & Time can respond within 30 minutes to most calls from the family for advice, reassurance and ensure the patient is symptom free.  The nurses who currently deliver services in Warrenpoint, Burren & Rostrevor are on call 1-2 nights a month depending on availability and are reimbursed for their time.

“The fact that our service is delivered by a local person, who in many cases is known to the family, can be hugely reassuring for them in a time of need.”

Once launched, the service can only be accessed by GP referral in consultation with the family.

Doctor John Shannon, GP with the Rathfriland Health Centre, says it’s something he has been keen to see rolled out in the local area.

“I’ve watched with interest the service in our neighbouring towns and villages and have been impressed by its responsiveness and flexible approach to patients, when other out of hours services are stretched.

“It’s providing a very important palliative care service to local communities. It’s quick to access, quick to respond and at its heart, enables local people to address local need. The charity provides the framework  for a community to look after its own, which is to be commended. I look forward to seeing the service become available in this area,” Doctor Shannon adds.

Mr McGinn says the next step for the charity is to host a public web-based information session later this month and begin a recruitment drive for nursing personnel living in the local area. The information session will be designed to facilitate a Q&As and outline how Life & Time delivers palliative care for terminal patients who wish to be at home in their final days.

“The Directors of Life & Time will be hosting a Facebook Live mid-June and would invite everyone in the community who has an interest in the service to follow our  social channels to find out more,” he added.

If you have an questions, or are a nurse interested in working with Life & Time in the Hilltown, Rathfriland and Mayobridge area please follow Life & Time Care on Facebook & Twitter, visit www.lifeandtimecare.org or contact Office 02841180019 Mob 07966935352 or email expressions of interest along with your name and address to [email protected].