Increase in demand for palliative care services drives need for new hospice

Galway Hospice CEO Mary Nash

Galway Hospice CEO Mary Nash

A planning application for a new €20 million Galway Hospice at Merlin Park is to be submitted to Galway City Council over the next few days, in response to increased demand for palliative care services across a range of conditions.

It is envisaged that the planning process, if successful by the applicant, will see the new facility open to receive patients in and around 2021, catering for vastly increased numbers of patients, and providing them with a place to receive palliative care and treatments in a natural environment that the Hospice feels is conducive to healing, rather than in a clinical hospital setting.

Whereas once the Galway Hospice was seen mainly as providing end of life care for those suffering from terminal cancer, now it caters for a wide range of illnesses, providing specialist palliative care that has evolved over the first two decades of its existence.

Chief executive of the Galway Hospice Foundation, Mary Nash told the Galway Advertiser this week that the definition of palliative care has evolved over the last while and it is this increase in demand for its services that has necessitated the need for the Galway Hospice to seek a site and a bigger facility.

Ms Nash said that she was aware of the contentious nature of the Hospice’s plans, in particular in relation to the chosen site at the meadows in Merlin Woods.

Smaller footprint

She confirmed that following the expression of concerns by those campaigning for the retention of the meadows, a revised plan will see the new hospice set back at one side of the meadow, with a significantly reduced footprint as compared to the original plan.

Ms Nash also said that siting the new hospice adjacent to the hospital at Merlin Park, as suggested by those opposed to the plans, would not provide the sort of setting that is required for those receiving palliative care in a hospice setting.

Galway Hospice Foundation which is the region’’s primary palliative care provider, has over the past few years identified the need for a new hospice facility. The hospice has seen significant increases in demand for services in recent years, and the current hospice site at Renmore is no longer capable of meeting future demands for palliative care services.

Galway Hospice has provided in-patient services since 1997, and with the increase in demand for services in recent years, potential for the current two-acre Renmore facility has been maximised.

The hospice currently operates an 18-bed facility at Renmore, in addition to providing Home-Care and Day-Care services to more than 730 clients.

A suitable site for a new state of the art 36-bed facility in close proximity to Merlin Park University Hospital has been identified. In the next few days, the Galway Hospice Foundation will formally lodge an application for planning permission with Galway City Council.

The new development will include:

— Thirty-six specialist palliative care beds

— A day-care centre

— Therapy rooms

— Education facilities

Speaking about the development of the new hospice, Mary Nash said that there had been a large demand for hospice services in recent years, in both the in-patient and home-care services.

“The new hospice will allow us to treat a larger volume of patients, providing them with the highest standard of care in the time when they need it most.

Demand for palliative services

“The rise in demand for palliative care at Galway Hospice is linked to the steady growth in population; an increase in the scope of palliative care, which is now being provided at an earlier stage in the disease trajectory; and patients now receiving palliative care for a wider spectrum of diseases,” she said.

“The demand for hospice care is expected to continue to increase, due to the aging population of Ireland and given the rise in incidences of cancer, which are predicted to double by 2040,” she said.

The planned site for the new hospice at Merlin Park is situated away from the hospital campus. However, co-location with the hospital will be hugely beneficial for the hospice, allowing for ease in transferring vulnerable hospice patients who are receiving treatment and for other support services for the hospice including Xrays, scans, blood testing, analysis and pharmacy support services.

“The correct environment for people staying at or visiting a hospice is extremely important and encourages wellbeing. A home-like environment with facilities for family members, with access to outside space and gardens, provides a calm peaceful environment for both patients and their families.

“The Merlin Park site for the new hospice meets all these requirements and combined with the close proximity to the acute hospital makes this location ideal for the new Galway Hospice.”

The HSE agreed to sell the site at Merlin Park to the Galway Hospice Foundation in 2015 and the title to the lands will be transferred once the planning permission has been obtained for the 14-acre site.

Plans for the new hospice development can be viewed at www.galwayhospice.ie The mission of Galway Hospice, as partner with the Health Service Executive, is to support patients from counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon with advanced diseases needing palliative care to attain the best quality of life possible.

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