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Design & Dignity: How Irish Hospitals are Transforming Spaces for Patients and Families at the End of Life

Resource type: Case Study

Susan Parker |

This case study describes how Irish hospitals are creating quiet and peaceful spaces for family members when they are coping with difficult diagnoses or the death of loved ones. The Design & Dignity program was established by the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Health Service Executive in 2010 to show the difference that calm, comfortable, and inviting physical environments can make to families dealing with the end of life of a relative.

The case study features the work of four hospitals including those located in cities and rural areas and those focusing on family rooms and mortuaries to provide examples that can be relevant to others. Hospital staff describe their experiences including challenges and lessons learned. Among them:

  • Find a key champion and enlist senior management support.
  • Hire an experienced architect who understands the purpose of the work.
  • Ensure that the project has a sufficient budget to purchase quality furnishings and art.

The case study also provides links to a number of resources for hospitals interested in carrying out a similar program.

Learn More

Actor Gabriel Byrne, poet Seamus Heaney and hospital staff discuss the importance of the spaces created by the Design & Dignity program.

Irish Hospice Foundation and the Health Service Executive are Atlantic grantees. Atlantic commissioned this report.

Related Resources


Aging, Palliative Care

Global Impact:

Republic of Ireland


hospice, palliative care