New NI Hospice building gets royal seal of approval

24 January 2018

The Countess of Wessex marks official opening of £13m adult facility in Belfast

THE new £13m Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast was officially opened by Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex.

The Royal visitor unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of the charity’s dementia-friendly facility which provides specialist palliative care services to people from all over Northern Ireland in Hospice and in the community.

The adult hospice, located in the north of the city nearby the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, was completed and opened last spring, with 18 private en-suite bedrooms, private gardens, rehabilitation suites, a community nursing hub and a dedicated Education and Research Centre, making it a world leader in palliative care.

It is the first dementia-friendly hospice of its kind in the UK.

During her visit, HRH enjoyed a tour of the new Hospice, meeting clinical and corporate staff and volunteers. She also took the opportunity to spend time with patient Mrs Andrea Murtagh and husband Fergal (from Belfast), before unveiling an official plaque to commemorate the day.

Heather Weir, Chief Executive at Northern Ireland Hospice said: “We are delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to officially open the new Northern Ireland Hospice. Patients and families, staff and volunteers and representatives from sectors including health, business, education and community have all joined us here today for this extra special occasion. We are thrilled that Her Royal Highness accepted our invitation and today has witnessed first-hand the complex multi-disciplinary palliative care which we provide for over 3,500 local people and their families each year.

“At Northern Ireland Hospice, we work hard to advocate for the importance of a palliative care approach for all those living with a life-limiting condition.  This new facility has enabled us to expand our reach, pioneering a palliative care approach to those with dementia, cardiac, respiratory or neurological diagnosis. 

“It gives us all a great sense of achievement and pride that the vision of our new Hospice is now a reality. This is a tremendous recognition of the combined efforts of our community, our support groups, volunteers and staff that collectively have created a very special environment for local people when they need us most. It’s a celebration for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland Hospice has been at the heart of the community since it began and has previously welcome Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, in 1991 and the Prince of Wales in 1998.

Before departing, the Royal visitor was presented with a gift on behalf of Northern Ireland Hospice, by Rathmore Grammar School pupil Kevin Donnelly Jnr. Kevin’s mother, Sharon Donnelly, who sadly passed away in October 2017, was cared for at Hospice.