New £13m Northern Ireland Hospice opens its doors
THE first patients were welcomed into the new state-of-the-art Northern Ireland Hospice facility in north Belfast today.
After two years of construction and ongoing fundraising, the building officially opened its doors.
Patients were transferred from the charity's temporary hospice in Whiteabbey Hospital to the new £13 million facility on the Somerton Road.
It has an inpatient unit complete with 18 private en suite bedrooms, a rehabilitation suite, day hospice services, a community nursing hub and a dedicated education and research centre.
There is also space for families to be together, including peaceful gardens, a sanctuary, a relative's area and a cafe, which will be open later in the year.
In a first for Great Britain and Ireland, it will also offer a special service for people with dementia.
The NI Hospice cares for 3,000 adults with life-limiting illnesses and their families annually. It costs £6m a year to keep it up and running and 60 per cent of this figure must be raised through voluntary donations
Chief Executive Heather Weir said they were "absolutely delighted" that the new hospice was open.
"After six years of planning and two years of construction, we are now able to take the next step on the Northern Ireland Hospice journey, offering world class care for the people of Northern Ireland now and into the future," he said.
"This new hospice will really make a huge difference to life-limited patients and their families, providing them with the care and support they need at the end of life.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us get to this stage.
"Individuals and groups in the community, charitable trusts, businesses and government support have all been instrumental in helping us to be able to open the doors for patients today.
"We're looking forward to getting the service up and running as normal, and continue to provide the very best care for patients and families, whether it's in the hospice or in their own communities."