‘It’s not all about dying’

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Within the In-Patient Unit of the Foyle Hospice are some of the most dedicated and caring people imaginable.

One of these is Medical Director Paul McIvor, who is originally from Belfast but now lives in Moville and has been with the Hospice for six years.

“I have a GP background but I became interested in palliative care after working in the Donegal Hospice for a year in 2003. After that, I got the opportunity to come up here and work with Dr McGinley which increased my interest in palliative care. I just found it very rewarding work and wanted to continue.”

As much as he can, Paul enjoys his job and gets satisfaction out of helping so many. “It’s lovely to be able to spend time with patients - a real privilege,” he says.

“It’s good that we can add to their dignity and that’s what we’re all about, increasing a person’s dignity and quality of life in the last stages of their life.”

Paul also spoke of the popular misconceptions surrounding the Foyle Hospice.

“People have the impression that they come here and don’t leave - but that’s just not true,” he explains. “People can come in for symptom control, or for respite to get a break from the world and go home after a week or two. It would be great to break that myth that people who come into the hospice never go home again. I suppose hospice work still has that stigma - but over 50% of our patients go home again, even here in in-patients. It’s not all about dying.”

“I find it very rewarding, I enjoy working here. We have a great team and we all work towards the same goals, doctors, nurses, administration staff, catering people, cleaners, fundraisers, all of us work together as a team and as an organisation to achieve the same goal. It’s not just the work we do in here, but the work we do in the community as well. There are six community nurses each seeing twenty people on their books, so there are quite a lot of people in need in the community. At any time the Foyle Hospice are dealing with around 130 patients, and then there’s those in day-care too.”

Paul appreciates that patients and families develop a strong bond with the Hospice.

“We’re really rooted and embedded in the community and very reliant on the community who are always so supportive and helpful. We find too that the relatives come back year after year and you never really lose touch with them - it’s a real Hospice family - they develop a real bond with the place and want to give something back.”

Speaking of his own profession, Paul admits: “I guess you find your own niche in life, you feel where you belong and I feel that here at the Hospice, very much so. Of course it affects you because you get to know people so well - you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t get attached - but that’s why the support of your team is essential.”

“In many instances, it’s a privilege just to spend those last weeks and months with people and share their life.”