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Statement from the Irish Hospice Foundation on Mortuaries in Ireland

In light of the serious issues raised in relation University Hospital Waterford’s mortuary over the last week, the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) welcomes the announcement that the project to replace it is being prioritised for capital funding.

Whilst Waterford and 44 other hospitals around the country are part of the IHF’s Hospice Friendly Hospitals (HFH) programme and important progress has been made in the provision of end-of-life and bereavement care in recent years, we are conscious many mortuaries in Ireland were built over 50 years ago and some of these remain poorly presented for the requirements of today’s society. The prioritisation of their redevelopment will require timely and substantial support.

The creation of well-designed spaces for the appropriate and compassionate care of the deceased and their relatives is an essential part of modern hospital care. Our ‘Design & Dignity’ guidelines for mortuaries state that ‘A mortuary is a sanctuary and must convey a sense of reverence and respect for life, death and bereavement’. This is the standard all hospitals in Ireland should aspire to and it is our goal that all hospital mortuaries will be so developed over the coming years. In the last ten years, the Design & Dignity programme in association with HSE Estates has funded the renovation and renewal of eleven mortuaries across the country with the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise being the most recent funding recipient.

Design & Dignity forms just one part of our Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme seeks to ensure end-of-life, palliative and bereavement care are central to the everyday business of hospitals. Waterford UH is part of the HFH programme and has made considerable progress in developing its facilities and services to HFH standards in recent years, not least in the creation of new palliative care services.

Since death, dying and bereavement happen every day, addressing the needs of people dying in acute hospitals and their family members as well as supporting staff in the challenges they face in providing quality end-of-life and bereavement care have to be prioritised. The Irish Hospice Foundation will continue to advocate for and support the financial and other investment to achieve the infrastructure changes required.

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