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Wicklow Hospice to Welcome its First In-Patients

Audrey Houlihan, CEO of Wicklow Hospice in Magheramore

Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services (OLH&CS) announced that it will open Wicklow Hospice on October 30th, with patients arriving from the start of November.  The new facility in Magheramore provides specialist palliative care services for the county through its 15 in-patient public beds and its Community Palliative Care team who will care for patients, and their families, across the county.*

The 3.5 acre site kindly donated by the Columban sisters, was developed by Wicklow Hospice Foundation, which has been supported in its work by the local community for over ten years.  Although the completion of the building was marked in January, with the intention of opening to patients in April, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the final works, fit-out and delivery of specialised equipment.

Chief Executive Officer of OLH&CS, Audrey Houlihan said: “We are truly delighted to be opening in Wicklow this month.  This is a major achievement by the people of Wicklow and we are honoured to bring more than 140 years’ experience delivering palliative care to the county.  At a turbulent time for so many communities around the world, we are confident that Wicklow Hospice will transform quality of life for patients and families and meet the changing care needs of current and future generations.

“The final preparations are underway and our new Community Palliative Care Team moves in on Friday 30th October. While their day-to-day work in visiting patients in their homes continues as normal, they now have the added benefit of being able to recommend coming in as an in-patient to let the team work with them to manage their symptoms during a short stay or for end-of-life care.

“The in-patient unit will welcome its first patients during the week of 9th November and will grow to meet needs and referrals from hospitals and GPs across Wicklow.  By the time we are fully up and running by year-end, we will have just over 40 staff across a wide range of clinical and non-clinical roles.  We are proud to work in this beautiful new facility and look forward to growing our team here.

“In the medium term, our vision is to expand the current community service, which runs five days a week. During 2021, we hope to be able to visit patients in their homes seven days a week. In addition, depending on the healthcare environment, we hope to provide a respite service for those in our care.

“While we celebrate this great milestone, we urgently need support to cover the bank loan of €2.75 million required to finish the building work.  We rely heavily on the support of the public and our fundraising has been critically impacted by Covid-19. We receive a lot of support from communities at events big and small but this year people have been unable to get together and we are really seeing the impact of this now.  We estimate that fundraising this year will be down over 35% by year-end and we urge the people of Wicklow to get behind this project once more.”

In the future, as with our other locations, fundraising will pay for enhancements that are so greatly valued by patients and their families. This includes: specialist equipment, complementary therapies and supporting the wonderful volunteer gardening programme. 

“As with other healthcare providers nationwide, we are in the unfortunate position of having to restrict visiting at present. Visiting will be aligned to the phases of the government roadmap  and details of agreed visiting and other relevant arrangements will be confirmed by the clinical team.  We are grateful for the support and understanding of patients and their families as we strive to protect them, our staff and the wider community. 

“Virtual visits have become popular and we are happy to work with patients and their families to help them set up phone and video calling.  We encourage patients to bring in items from home and we know that messages, photos, cards and pictures from children really brighten up their day. 

“Volunteers play a vital role across our services. Our gardening volunteers have been active for some time, planning how to make the most of this special site.  In the new year we will look to develop our volunteer programme and advise those who are interested in getting involved to keep an on social media and online.”

The organisation continues to explore ways to meet growing demand and future needs by finding ways to integrate, improve and expand its services. In 2021, OLH&CS will refurbish Blackrock Hospice at a cost of around €4 million. 

* (excluding West Wicklow, which comes under St. Brigid’s Hospice in Kildare).

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