Revamped Limerick mortuary provides dignity

No 8 Dental Clinic Shannon Street, Limerick - Photo: Kieran Clancy © 9/10/2015
Photo: Kieran Clancy ©

The former Governor of Mount Joy Prison, John Lonergan, performed the official opening of the revamped mortuary at University Hospital Limerick recently.

The hospital in Dooradoyle was awarded a Design and Dignity grant in 2011 totalling €285,000, along with funding from HSE estates, which was used to transform the old mortuary into a calming dignified space for bereaved families.

The Design and Dignity Project is operated in partnership between the Irish Hospice Foundation and HSE. The scheme aims to transform the way hospital spaces are designed for people at the end of life, and to set the standard for other hospitals to follow, according to a spokeswoman for the hospital

The new mortuary facility wraps around an internal tranquil garden. This feature allows them the opportunity to reflect and prepare themselves for viewing their loved ones.

The provision of a kitchenette in the mortuary allows for tea and coffee making facilities, while a privacy room, away from the main area, offers a space for families to have time together in a protected and supporting space.

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The mortuary extension was nominated as a finalist in the ‘Healthcare Building Project of the Year’ category at The Irish Healthcare Centre Awards 2015.

Denis Casey, End of Life Care Coordinator at University Hospital Limerick said, “The grant allowed us to make major improvements to the mortuary and this has created a much more inviting space for families to congregate following the death of their loved one.

To date 11 projects have been funded across the country under the Design and Dignity scheme at a cost of €1.5m.

Sharon Foley, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation said, “Every year 30,000 people in Ireland die, and 43 per cent die in acute hospitals. The Design and Dignity Fund aims to bring design excellence to hospitals so that the experience of dying is as positive as it can be, both for those going through it and for those left behind. This project in University Hospital Limerick now provides a peaceful environment where families can process their grief and spend that precious time saying goodbye to their loved one.

“Our congratulations are extended to all who worked on this project and especially to the staff of UHL for their commitment to providing this space for their patients and families. It is wonderful to see it come to fruition.”

John Lonergan commented at the launch “I congratulate all those who have supported and enabled this work to be completed.  The death of a family member, close relative or personal friend is one of the most traumatic and devastating experience that we all face during our lives, indeed, it’s inevitable that we do so as death itself is inevitable. The modern and appropriately designed new facilities will play a crucial role in supporting families in their time of greatest need by providing a serene and loving environment where they can mourn with dignity and in peace”.

To support the renovation of the UHL Mortuary, a new garden has been planted and benches and lights have been installed on the walkway to the Mortuary. Planters have been filled and are maintained by the HSE training centre in Dooradoyle.  This was supported through a grant from Compassionate Communities , Milford Care Centre.

The opening of the renovated Mortuary also coincided with the opening of the family room in Ward 3A.   Staff on the ward took the initiative and arranged a coffee morning to raise funds to upgrade a room on the ward to enable staff to support patients and their families in a respectful and sensitive manner in a private quiet space in the midst of a busy ward.   Margaret Kearnery, Clinical Nurse Manager, Ward 3A commented “ The opening of our  family room sees the realisation of a vision from the nursing and Health Care Assistant Staff of ward 3A, a  vision to create an oasis of calm in our busy environment, a family room to provide dignity and privacy for families in their hour of need.  I’m very proud to lead this excellent team who put the patient and their families at the core of everything they do every day, in such a pleasant, caring manner.

“This project is an excellent example of team work and multidisciplinary staff working collaboratively to enhance our core values of caring compassion and courtesy.  And in particular I would like to extend my thanks to Compassionate Communities, Milford Care Centre who also supported this project with a grant to enable us to complete the renovations. “


Hugh Brady, Chief Financial Officer, UL Hospital Group said:

“The culmination of these three projects; the renovation of the UHL mortuary, the development of a new garden on the mortuary walkway and the opening of a family room on Ward 3B are examples of how different organisations can work together to improve the end of life experience for our patients, their family and friends.  I’d particularly like to commend the staff on Ward 3B who showed such leadership and identified a patient need and drove the project through to completion to develop a space where they could continue to provide support to families in a caring and pleasant environment.   These projects further demonstrate the values of the UL Hospital Group, caring, courteous and professional.