Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA today visited the expanded Marie Curie Day Hospice at Downe Hospital, Downpatrick.
During the visit the Minister met with people attending the day hospice, staff and volunteers and had an opportunity to hear about the range of services provided and how these support people with palliative care needs.
The Minister viewed the new, larger premises that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has made available, allowing Marie Curie to see over 30% more patients. The new premises allow better access for those in wheelchairs and with mobility issues and more privacy for family members visiting their loved ones.
Commenting on his visit the Minister said: “The partnership between the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland and the public sector is critical as we seek to improve services to patients. The new premises for the Marie Curie service at the Downe Hospital will allow us to help more people who need palliative care and ensure families have the comfort and privacy they would expect.
“I want to pay tribute to the skills, dedication and commitment of Marie Curie staff and volunteers for the contribution they make to supporting people and families who are often at their most vulnerable.
“I want to ensure that people with palliative and end of life care needs have access to and receive high quality care irrespective of their condition. The provision of these new premises at the Downe Hospital is part of that commitment.
“As our population ages, more people will be living with long term chronic conditions. We need to ensure that we are able to provide people with the support they need, particularly when they have a palliative or end of life diagnosis."
Miriam McKeown, Hospice Manager in Downpatrick said: “We would like to thank the Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit our day hospice facility at the Downe Hospital for a second time. The Minister has been instrumental in helping to relocate the day hospice to a larger location, meaning we can now help more people living with a terminal illness. The Marie Curie day hospice service has been operating in the area since 2003 and is managed in partnership with the South Eastern Trust.
“The service allows patients living with a terminal illness to be assessed by a variety of specialists e.g. doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists and for a range of needs to be professional met. These can include pain management, mobility assessment and symptom control. By offering this type of day service patients are able to remain at home, but retain sufficient levels of contact with the appropriate medical and health care teams.”
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