Patients transfer from Whiteabbey to new state-of-the-art NI Hospice

Ward Manager Meghan Morgan and Nursing Auxiliary Veronica Morris making final preparations at the new Northern Ireland Hospice before the transfer of patients from the temporary hospice at Whiteabbey Hospital. Photo by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye
Ward Manager Meghan Morgan and Nursing Auxiliary Veronica Morris making final preparations at the new Northern Ireland Hospice before the transfer of patients from the temporary hospice at Whiteabbey Hospital. Photo by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

Northern Ireland Hospice has officially opened its new state-of-the-art hospice in north Belfast.

After two years of construction, the doors of the £13 million facility were opened today (Wednesday, May 25), welcoming the first patients, following a transfer from the organisation’s temporary facility in Whiteabbey Hospital.

The Hospice will continue providing palliative care for patients with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses, after returning ‘home’ to a new world-class facility on the site of the previous hospice on Somerton Road.

The new hospice encompasses an 18 bedded In-Patient Unit and a Day Hospice facility, ensuring that the people of Northern Ireland have access to the very best palliative care. It will be warm and comfortable, with spacious en suite private bedrooms and rehabilitation rooms, equipped with all the modern facilities needed to care for people and their families now and in the future.

Much thought has also been given to ensuring that the new building is able to support families in the way that they need. There is space for families to be together, including peaceful gardens, a Sanctuary, a Relatives’ Area and a café, which will be open later in the year.

The new facility will also be the hub for Hospice Community Nursing Services, with almost 90 per cent of the 3,000 patients cared for annually, choosing to be cared for at home. The site also features a dedicated Palliative Education and Research Centre, reaching out internationally to train healthcare professionals in specialist palliative care models.

In an extension of services delivered in NI, the new facility will enable specialist palliative care to be extended beyond cancer to those with requiring palliative care due to neurological, respiratory and dementia conditions.

In the case of dementia care, the new Hospice is the first dementia-friendly designed hospice of its kind in the UK and Ireland, and will allow staff to provide support specialised care to patients with a dementia diagnosis and their carers.

Dementia patients will have improved access to tailored palliative care, including Care in the Community, Day Hospice Services and In-Patient support for symptom management as required.

Speaking about the opening of the new facility, Chief Executive, Heather Weir said: “WE are absolutely delighted, that after six years of planning and two years of construction, we are now able to take the next step on the Northern Ireland Hospice journey, offering world class care for the people of Northern Ireland now and into the future.

“This new hospice will really make a huge difference to life-limited patients and their families, providing them with the care and support they need at the end of life.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us get to this stage. Individuals and groups in the community, charitable trusts, businesses and government support have all been instrumental in helping us to be able to open the doors for patients today.

“We’re looking forward to getting the service up and running as normal, and continue to provide the very best care for patients and families, whether it’s in the Hospice or in their own communities.”

Northern Ireland Hospice cares for over 3,000 patients and their families every year. It costs £6 million to run the service, with the majority of this funding coming through voluntary donations.

To find out more about how you can support Northern Ireland Hospice, log on to www.nihospice.org or call 028 9078 1836.