Covid-19 prompts majority to reconsider those who are dying, survey finds

A large majority of people believe the Covid-19 pandemic has made the public rethink their attitudes toward the dying, a new survey by the Irish Hospice Foundation has found.

The poll by market research firm Behaviour & Attitudes found that 68 per cent of people felt that the virus had made people rethink how it deals with dying, death and bereavement.

Chief Executive of the Irish Hospice Foundation, Sharon Foley said: “We know from our work over 30 years that Irish people want a society where death and bereavement is openly talked about and not hidden away, where people can die with dignity and that supports and services are in place for end of life and for loved ones who are bereaved”.

The research also showed the significant impact of lockdown measures restricting the numbers at funerals. 89% of people said that being with extended family and friends is key to grieving.

Ms Foley added: “We know that grieving in isolation has resulted in doubtless suffering for many individuals and families. That is why we have written to the National Public Health Emergency Team calling on them to increase the number of people allowed to attend funerals while maintaining social distancing and other public health measures.”

In addition the charity has called for “a national response” in the wake of the pandemic and for the next government to develop a new “whole of government strategy” to “end of life care.”

Among the proposals in a seven-point policy document published by the charity is a suggestion that end of life and palliative care services be set up in nursing homes, the sector worst hit by the pandemic, and that people be allowed to die at home or their place of preference.

New IHF survey: Majority of Irish people believe we need to rethink how we deal with death and grief