Almost half of terminal cancer patients receiving treatment at home did not have any central heating.
That's according to new research, funded by the Irish Cancer Society, which has revealed stark levels of energy hardship experienced by those receiving palliative care at home.
Of the nurses surveyed, one-in-three providing end of life care said they have experienced patients’ homes without any heating.
While three-in-five reported households had difficulty paying bills like mortgage, rent and utilities.
Two-in-three nurses reported their patients struggled to afford home heating, while almost half (46%) reported that there was no central heating systems in the homes they were working in.
Other findings show that nurses reported observing damp (64%), mould (50%) and condensation (70%) in the homes where they were delivering palliative care.
'Hidden costs of cancer'
The research was carried out by a team led by Dr Suzanne Denieffe of South East Technological University (SETU), who believes a conversation has to happen now.
"Our research sheds light on the hidden costs of cancer often experienced in the privacy of a person’s home," she said.
"Now we must bring this conversation into the public domain to highlight the needs of people living with a life-limiting cancer.
"We know that people need support, and we have brought together the evidence base and recommendations for Government to take action," she added.
Irish Cancer Society CEO Averil Power said for people to be in such a situation is 'appalling'.
"To think of anyone in their final days not having adequate heat is absolutely heartbreaking," she said.
"The very least we should be able to provide to someone with a terminal illness like cancer, is comfort.
"It is appalling to see the level of energy hardship being experienced by these patients, to see them struggling to heat their homes and pay their bills.
"We have long campaigned and called for targeted financial supports from Government to help those who have received a cancer diagnosis deal with the cost of cancer.
"The experiences of patients reflected in this research underlines why Government needs to better financially support all people diagnosed with cancer, including palliative care patients," she added.
Ms Power said such patients should be automatically entitled to the Household Benefits Package, the Fuel Allowance Payment and the Additional Needs Payment.