FROM small beginnings in 1928, the organisation we now know as Milford Care Centre has grown to be one of the biggest and most respected providers of palliative and nursing care in the country.
And with an increasing aging population, there is now a greater need than ever before to invest in a future that many of us do not wish to contemplate.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said there is “hardly a family in Limerick that hasn’t had an experience with the hospice.
“My own wife was here,” he said, in reference to his wife Florence, who had battled Alzheimer’s and died at the age of 68 after contracting pneumonia in February 2012.
She too was surrounded by her family at the Milford Care Centre in Castletroy as she sadly passed away.
“I was astounded by the care and attention given by staff during a difficult period,” he said.
The last significant investment made in Milford, he said, was in 1996 when he was Minister for Health.
Now, developments amounting to €8.5m have been announced for Milford Care Centre, with funding from JP McManus – who successfully beat prostate cancer – set to provide €3.4m of the overall costs.
The projects, which are set to be completed in 2017 and will bring a number of construction and nursing jobs to the region, will also be beneficial to their patients and their families.
Both the new hospice in-patient unit and the upgraded nursing home will be configured entirely for single occupancy only, allowing for greater privacy for those who use their services.
The new 34-bed hospice will cost an estimated €7.7m, and the JP McManus Benevolent Fund and his Pro-Am fund are to contribute €3.4m towards this project. The nursing home expansion will cost €800,000, which is to be funded directly by Milford nursing home.
“It’s a marvellous initiative and a tremendous achievement, and will be welcomed by everyone in Limerick when they hear the good news,” continued Minister Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education and Skills, who also attended the launch, said that the project is set to bring significant benefits to people throughout Limerick city and county, as well as throughout the region.
“Last year alone, more than half of new referrals to the Milford Hospice service were from Limerick,” she noted.
Sue Ann Foley, daughter of JP McManus, who heads up the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, said they are pleased to support this very important initiative.
“Milford Hospice has touched the lives of people and communities right across the region and is synonymous with loving care for patients and families at a difficult time in their lives. With demand for its services growing steadily and, increasingly, coming from people with non-cancer conditions, it is indeed a most worthy cause for support. We are pleased also to see that some funds are also being allocated from the JP McManus Pro Am Event in 2010 towards the project,” she said.
Milford chief executive Pat Quinlan said the demand for in-patient services has more than doubled in the past ten years and the hospice had been operating at full capacity on a number of occasions in recent years, but particularly in 2014.
“As demand continues to grow, it is important to ensure that those patients requiring a bed can speedily access it,” Mr Quinlan said.
“The majority of beds in the existing hospice are in shared rooms and this configuration needs to change due to the increased activity levels and our desire to maintain the highest standards into the future. This similarly applies to Milford Nursing Home”, he added.
He said 1,789 patients were treated last year, up from 848 the previous year, and their staff numbers, across all their services, now amount to 350. Mr Quinlan said 54% of their referrals are from Limerick, 26% are from Clare, and 18% are from Tipperary. Non-malignant diagnoses, such as Alzheimer’s, COPD, MS, Parkinson’s, and diabetes, account for 37% of their patients’ cases, while their hospice has also been full to capacity on a number of occasions.
Some of the project funding will be met by their existing capital fund, and they have also set themselves a fundraising target of €2m to be achieved over four years.
“This is no less than the people of the Mid-West deserve,” he concluded.