About Design & Dignity

“Architecture should protect man at his weakest”

 Alvor Alto, Finnish Architect

The Design & Dignity project is grounded in the firm belief that the end of life should be recognised as a time of the most intense human feelings, which can include sadness, loss, anxiety and fear. These feelings should not have to be endured in inappropriate surroundings: a busy corridor, a waiting room, a ward reception area, where others may be chatting and laughing.
We are renovating shabby storage rooms, turning them into oases of calm where bad news can be broken sensitively or where families can gather and have a cup of tea. We are re-designing viewing rooms where people first see a deceased loved one, with quiet ante-rooms to allow for a catching of breath. We are transforming neglected mortuaries into havens of peace.
Design & Dignity is a partnership project of the Irish Hospice Foundation and Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) Estates. So far over 30 projects have been funded through the Design & Dignity Grants Scheme. The HSE has adopted Design & Dignity guidelines for all new and refurbishment work.

The Design & Dignity Project:

  • Aims to transform the way hospital spaces are designed for people at the end of life and their families
  • Funds a range of ‘exemplar’ projects through a formal Grants Scheme and showcases them nationwide;
  • Provides practical architectural support and advice
  • Fosters a sense of ownership of the hospital environment through engagement with hospital staff in the design process
  • Develops Design & Dignity Guidelines to enhance the physical environments of hospitals
  • Produces a range of resources to enable staff to implement the Design & Dignity Guidelines
  • Advocates for the integration and embedding of the Design & Dignity guidelines across the health service

“Our vision is that there will be End of Life Sanctuaries in every adult, paediatric and maternity hospital in Ireland, designed to ensure that death and dying are experienced in surroundings that enhance dignity and respect for patients and for their families.

End of Life Sanctuaries include palliative care suites for patients who are dying, family rooms with overnight accommodation, counselling rooms for bereaved families, bereavement suites in emergency department units and family friendly mortuaries.”


Back to the Top