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P-173  The hospice friendly hospitals programme in ireland
  1. Grace O‘Sullivan and
  2. Marie Lynch
  1. Irish Hospice Foundation, Dublin, Ireland


Background Almost 30,000 people die in Ireland each year. 43% of people in Ireland die in acute hospitals; that’s around 35 people every day. The Irish Hospice Foundation identified a deficit in the care of patients and their families at the end of life and in 2007 established the Hospice Friendly Hospitals (HFH) Programme in partnership with Ireland’s National Health Service Executive. The programme was established in order to introduce hospice principles into hospital practice

Aim The HFH Programme seeks to ensure that end of life, palliative and bereavement care is central to the everyday business of Irish hospitals.

Methods The HFH Programme designed a suite of quality improvement interventions for hospital staff. The programme

  • Developed the Quality Standards for End of Life Care and a suite of guidance documents for hospital staff.

  • Improved the culture of end-of-life care through education initiatives, a national nurse practice development programme and promotion of symbolic resources.

  • Influenced the health system to raise the profile of end of life care by establishing.

    • End-of-Life Care Coordinator posts.

    • End-of-Life Care/Bereavement Care Committees in hospitals.

    • Three national leadership networks for hospital staff.


  • Over 40 public and private hospitals are linked to the HFH Programme. This represents over 90% of public hospitals in Ireland.

  • Palliative, end-of-life and bereavement care is a core component of hospital operational plans.

  • Hospitals have established a governance structure (committee) to oversee quality improvement projects.

  • Symbolic resources e.g. the end-of-life symbol are used widely.

  • Over 20 refurbishment projects complete e.g. mortuaries, family rooms, bereavement suites through the Design & Dignity Grants Scheme.

  • The Quality Standards for End of Life Care underpin new national standards for bereavement care in maternity settings.

  • The HFH Programme is working with organisations in Northern Ireland, the UK and Canada to disseminate learning.

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