The Minister visited the Foyle Hospice in Londonderry to meet with staff, volunteers and people using the hospice services.
Foyle Hospice, situated at Culmore Road, provides specialist palliative and end of life care to people in the north-west of Ireland.
The Health Minister highlighted the work of the 80 members of staff, which includes 35 nurses. In addition, over 450 volunteers support the Hospice staff in providing services to people living with palliative and end of life care needs and their families.
The Minister said: “I am delighted to be here to see and hear about the work of the Foyle Hospice in providing specialist palliative and end of life care.
“The Foyle Hospice provides a vital service in the north-west through its in-patient and day hospice services and its community nursing team, as well as the support it provides to those who have suffered the loss of bereavement. I am pleased to have this opportunity to express my appreciation to the staff and volunteers for their professionalism, commitment and dedication in providing quality care for those who need it.”
Its services include a 10 bed in-patient unit offering 24-hour care and support, a day hospice operating three days a week, a specialist community nursing team, and a 24 hour telephone advice line.
Further services include ‘Healing Hearts’ – a children’s bereavement support service, and the Forget me Not bereavement support service for adults.
The Minister also praised the work being taken forward by the Foyle Hospice through the ‘Compassionate Communities - Reach Out’ project, which aims to build capacity within local communities to support people living with an advanced illness, reduce social isolation and enable people to remain living at home and stay connected to their local communities.
Commenting on the initiative, the Minister continued: “This is a very positive example of how by pro-actively working together and engaging with the wider community we can improve how our services are provided and importantly, support people at what will often be a very difficult and stressful time.
“Recognising the role that communities have to play as genuine partners in health and social care, and working in partnership to adopt creative and innovative ways of designing and delivering our services, is at the heart of the vision that I set out in ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026 – Delivering Together’.”
The initiative includes a network of trained compassionate neighbours who provide weekly contact with people who have become isolated as a result of illness and provide a break for those who care for them.