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Hospice Services in Ireland

Current Hospice Services

There are nine inpatient hospices in Ireland; three in the Dublin area and one each in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Donegal and Kildare. These cater for patients living within their catchment area only. Most hospice/palliative care in Ireland is delivered in the form of home care. These home care services are available in every county. You can view details of local hospice services in our directory of hospice services in your area.

History & Timeline

Two Irish hospices have existed for over a hundred years. Hospice care as we now know it has been developed since the 1960s. Dame Cicely Saunders founded St Christopher's Hospice in London in 1967. It is regarded as the pioneer of the modern hospice movement. The influence of St Christopher's spread to other countries, including Ireland.
  • The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) was founded in 1986
  • Irish Association for Palliative Care (IAPC) in the early 1990s
  • In 1995  Palliative Medicine was approved as a medical specialty by the Irish Medical Council
Since the mid-1980's there has been a huge increase in hospice/palliative care services country-wide, most of which is in the form of home care.

National policy

The Irish Government's 1994 National Health Strategy recognised the role of palliative care and committed to the continued development of these services. In 2001, the Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care, 2001 (NACPC), with its key recommendations for service development, was adopted by Government as national policy on palliative care.  

Baseline Study

In 2004, the Irish Hospice Foundation undertook a nationwide study of the state of Irish hospice/palliative care services relative to national policy. The results were published in the report A Baseline Study on the Provision of Hospice/Specialist Palliative care Services in Ireland in March 2006. The study highlighted serious gaps in the provision of services, and in particular, extreme variations in state spending on services from region to region. This report, along with a follow-up study two years later (Staffing Levels and Bed Numbers in Specialist Palliative Care in Ireland, 2007), formed the basis for a vigorous advocacy campaign by the IHF, IAPC, Irish Cancer Society and voluntary hospices.  

HSE's Five-Year Development Framework

In 2008, a framework for the future development of Irish hospice/palliative care services was finally agreed. This was detailed in the HSE report Palliative Care Services: Five-Year Medium-Term Development Framework. The report identified "priority actions" required to deliver a badly-needed further 203 hospice beds and 272 staff  in hospice/palliative care services.  

The Irish Hospice Foundation

Through our advocacy and development work, the Irish Hospice Foundation continues to strenuously pursue the development of hospice/palliative care services in Ireland,  so that all persons facing the end of life may die in dignity and comfort, with appropriate care and support for them and their families.    
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