First patients to arrive at north Belfast hospice

Ward Manager Meghan Morgan, along with Nursing Auxiliary Veronica Morris, make final preparations for the opening of the new Northern Ireland Hospice facility on the Somerton Road, north Belfast
Ward Manager Meghan Morgan, along with Nursing Auxiliary Veronica Morris, make final preparations for the opening of the new Northern Ireland Hospice facility on the Somerton Road, north Belfast

Northern Ireland’s new state-of-the-art hospice opens its doors on Wednesday to welcome the first palliative care patients.

The £13 million facility has been built on the site of the previous hospice on the Somerton Road in north Belfast.

It includes an 18-bed patient unit and a ‘day hospice’, designed to be warm and comfortable with spacious en suite private bedrooms and rehabilitation rooms.

The rooms are equipped with all the modern facilities needed to care for people and their families - including peaceful gardens, a sanctuary, a relatives’ area and a cafe which will open later in the year.

Commenting on the opening of the new centre, 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.”

Ms Weir added: “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.”

The new centre will also be the hub for hospice community nursing services which cares for almost 90 per cent of 3,000 patients annually who choose to be cared for at home.

It features a dedicated Palliative Education and Research Centre, and will reach out internationally to train healthcare professionals in specialist palliative care models. The Belfast facility is also the first dementia-friendly hospice by design anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

It costs £6 million each year to run the service with the majority coming through voluntary donations.

To support the hospice go to www.nihospice.org or call 028 9078 1836.