Set in picturesque surroundings on the city’s Culmore Road, the Hospice has provided free care for countless patients since it opened back in 1991.
The idea for a hospice began back in 1984 when Dr Tom McGinley, a practicing GP in the town, was treating an 18 year-old boy with terminal cancer. At that time, those with terminal illnesses were rarely informed they were going to die and the issue of death remained a taboo.
When the teenage boy asked Mr McGinley if he was going to die and what would happen, the compassionate doctor struggled to deal with the realities of the situation. He soon recognised a very real need for a hospice and palliative care in the North West.
Dr McGinley then dedicated himself to studying and specialising in anaesthetics and palliative care, and the process of creating the hospice began. That year, an initial steering committee was set up and fundraising for the facility began in earnest.
When the Foyle Hospice finally came to fruition with both an In-Patient and Day Therapy Unit, it immediately became an important part of the city’s health infrastructure and has helped countless families at a time when they need it most. Over a 12 month period last year, the Hospice saw 177 admissions with an average stay of just 14-21 days. and a surprising 97 of those admissions into the In-Patient Unit were also discharged after an average stay. The Day Therapy Unit also had 883 attendees over the same period.
However, those behind the Hospice are keen to dispel the common misconception that its services are solely for cancer patients.
While cancer is prevalent, the facility also deals with a range of life-limiting illnesses including cardiac conditions, chronic heart and lung disease, motor neurone disease, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and other illnesses.
The hospice is a serene place, its serenity enhanced by the stunning views of sloping fields and lush greenery from every room. One of the most recent additions is a conservatory for patients which is bathed in sunshine most of the day and looks over the kitchen’s thriving vegetable patch. Nearby, a designated art room hosts visiting artists who volunteer their time to work with patients in whichever medium they choose, just one of many activities available.
As a registered charity, care to patients and their families has always been free of charge with In-Patient and Day Therapy Units.
The Hospice also offers training in palliative care and has a dedicated fundraising centre which depends on the generosity of the Derry community to raise the £2.2 million needed to sustain it for a year - something the Derry public have always done with pride.