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Compassion in Hospitals – HSE consolidates the Hospice Friendly Hospital Programme

Author: Petrina Vousden
04 April 2017
  • Margaret McKiernan, Chairperson HFH Acute Hospital Network with Marie Lynch, Head of Health Care Programmes, Irish Hospice Foundation and Dr Ciaran Browne, National Lead, HSE Acute Hospital Division pictured at the announcement of new Joint Oversight Group of the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme

A new group to copper-fasten the Hospice Friendly Hospital Programme in all adult, child and maternity hospitals across the country has been launched.

The Health Service Executive and Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) announced the new Joint Oversight Group of the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme together.

Marie Lynch, IHF Head of Healthcare Programmes said: “An average 30,000 deaths occur in Ireland every year. Approximately 48 per cent of those people will die in an acute hospital.

“The Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme is an initiative of the IHF to ensure that end-of-life, palliative and bereavement care is central to the everyday business of hospitals, and the best possible care is  available to people at end-of life and their loved ones at this difficult time.”

The Hospital Friendly Hospitals Programme has been adopted by 48 hospitals nationwide since it was established in 2007 to improve the standard of end-of-life care in Irish hospitals. The new Joint Oversight Group is being formed to further support the embedding of the Hospice Friendly Hospital Programme within HSE structures. It will also examine ways to expand and develop the programme across the hospital system where possible.

Dr Ciarán Browne, HSE Acute Hospital Division said: “We are very pleased to continue and extend our close working relationship with the Irish Hospice Foundation on the Hospice Friendly Hospital Programme. We recognise the importance of this work to patients, their families and staff. The HFH Programme supports our goal of creating a caring and compassionate environment across our hospital system.”

The new group is chaired by Professor Cillian Twomey. It includes experts from clinical programmes in palliative care, older persons, emergency department and paediatric care and will meet three times a year. 

The HFH programme co-ordinates three networks for hospital staff to promote improvements in end-of-life care from the perspective of patients, families and hospital staff; the Acute Hospital Network, Maternity/Children’s Network and The End-of-Life Co-Ordinator Network. The programme advocates for investment in palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care services at the hospital, hospital group and national levels. It develops and promotes the use of ceremonial resources such as the end of life symbol, family handover bags, drapes and ward altars.

It also develops promotional and educational supports for all hospital staff. It co-ordinates the Design and Dignity Project which aims to transform the way hospital spaces are designed for people at end-of life. It provides expert advice and guidance directly to hospital staff to support the implementation of the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme in their hospitals.

The Joint Oversight Group was launched  at a meeting of The Acute Hospital Network at Aisling Hotel, Dublin.The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) is a national charity dedicated to all matters relating to dying, death and bereavement in Ireland.  Our vision is that no one should face death or bereavement without the care and support they need.  Our mission is to achieve dignity, comfort and choice for all people facing the end of life. The IHF receives core funding from Pobal and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Hospice Friendly Hospitals improves the experience of dying in hospital for patients and their families.  We work closely with hospital staff to ensure that end of life, palliative and bereavement care is central to their work. Over 40 acute hospitals countrywide have embraced the hospice ethos. Through our Design & Dignity Project, in partnership with the HSE, 32 hospital projects have been funded including mortuary refurbishments and 20 family rooms to provided dignified spaces for families


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