Helen Ely, CNS Palliative Care, Elaine Prendergast, General Manager Roscommon Hospital, Dr Dympna Waldron, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Mary Lovegrove Hospice Friendly Hospitals, Dr Eileen Mannion, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Geraldine Keane, CNS Palliative Care, Maura Loftus, Director of Nursing Roscommon Hospital.
Roscommon Hospital has become the latest hospital in Ireland to sign up to the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme which is aimed at ensuring patients die with dignity and respect.
To date 40 hospitals nationwide have joined the Irish Hospice Foundation’s award-winning initiative which promotes the best possible end of life for patients. The initiative is done in partnership with the Health Service Executive
Other hospitals in the West / North West Hospitals Group involved in the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme include Portiuncula Hospital, Galway University Hospitals, Letterkenny General Hospital, Sligo Regional Hospital and Mayo General Hospital.
Launching the Hospice Friendly Hospital Programme in Roscommon Hospital today the hospital General Manager, Elaine Prendergast, said the initiative will support frontline staff who are delivering end-of-life care in sometimes very challenging conditions.
Speaking at the launch, Ms Prendergast said: “We are delighted to sign up to the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme. Our intention is to raise awareness of the work which has been undertaken at the hospital around end-of-life care and the importance of dignity and respect for patients and their families at this difficult stage of life.”
The Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme, which was launched in 2011, involves:
- Refurbishing family rooms, mortuaries and bereavement suites to enhance the physical environment of hospitals
- Training all staff in end-of-life care via monthly training sessions
- Using practical resources such as special family handover bags to return the belongings of a loved one who has died, a specially designed ward altar and trolley drape
- Placing a specially designed end of life symbol on the wards which alert people that a person is dying or has died
- Implementing a protocol to ensure that a sympathy card is sent out to families after a loved one has died in the hospital
Mary Lovegrove, Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme Manager said: “We are striving to ensure the best possible care for a patient when they are reaching the end of their life’s journey, so they die with dignity and respect. This is often not easy in a busy acute hospital with all its hustle and bustle, but staff have shown tremendous interest and families have also appreciated the improvements which have been made.”
She added: “Most of us believe an acute hospital is where people with various complaints go to get better, while a hospice is a place where people go to die. Most of us would prefer to die in our own homes but the reality in Ireland is that most people die in some form of hospital, and 43% of us will die in an acute hospital. The challenge facing the acute hospital system is how to train and assist all staff to provide a quality service for all patients at the end of life and also to help their families to cope.”
Sharon Foley, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation, commented: “The simple aim of the Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme is to embed hospice principles into hospital practice. We are delighted at the positive reaction of hospital staff in Roscommon to the various initiatives that have been introduced. We hope that patients and families will feel the benefit of the training and education when it matters most to them.”