The very first Hospice Nurse started work in 1983, providing care to patients in their own homes. In 1985 Somerton House opened with a six bedded unit before a further 11 were added in the years that followed.
In 2001 Northern Ireland Children Hospice opened Horizon House. The purpose built facility consists of 10 bedrooms, a hydrotherapy pool, a multi-sensory room, play den, large living area and family accommodation. Sitting at the foot of the Cavehill in Newtownabbey, Horizon House is a 'home from home' for families who use the service.
In 2012, Horizon West was opened in Killadeas, Fermanagh. The purpose built facility consists of four bedrooms, an art room, a den, a multi-sensory hydrotherapy bathroom and family accommodation. Modeled on Horizon House, Horizon West will benefit families living in rural areas and extend the choice of care settings available.
As the only children's hospice within Northern Ireland offering palliative and specialist care to life-limited children and young people, NI Children's Hospice recognised the need for an extension of its services and so in 2012, building work to a new children's hospice in Fermanagh was complete.
Hospice care is much more than pain and symptom control but also pays attention to the individual and helps them in a way appropriate to them. We provide over 90% of our care to patients, children and young people and their families in their own home through the work of our community teams.
Our philosophy of caring remains true to the original vision of the founder of the modern hospice movement, the late Dame Cicely Saunders, who reminded us that:
“You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
Dame Cicely Saunders was a woman of great vision, compassion and faith who transformed the way we care for the dying in Northern Ireland and beyond. The vision of hospice (later to be known as palliative) care she propounded, recognised that people are more than their illness and that care needed to take account of emotional, social and spiritual issues as well as addressing the concerns of family and friends who were also facing loss.
At Hospice, we see the patient and the family as one unit of care. We see the patient first and their illness second. We offer care and support to the whole family, because caring is at the heart of everything we do.