Macmillan Unit, Antrim

The Macmillan Unit - Specialist Palliative Care in-patient unit

The Macmillan Unit is a specialist palliative care in-patient unit located in the grounds of Antrim Area Hospital. The unit provides accommodation to care for twelve adult patients with complex specialist palliative care needs.

The majority of in-patients are frail and highly dependent as a result of living with an advanced progressive illness, such as advanced cancer, advanced respiratory disease, motor neurone disease, renal failure or heart failure.

The focus of care is to enhance quality of life and offer a holistic approach to care through a wide range of services, including expert clinical assessment and symptom management, rehabilitation, emotional and social support, practical help, complementary therapies and respite care.

Admission to the Unit

Admission to the Unit can be arranged for patients who have problems that require more specialist skills than are available in their current care setting. The Unit accepts adults over 18 years of age with complex specialist palliative care symptoms and needs which require:

• Assessment and management recognising the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions
• Rehabilitation to maximise physical function and promote independence and adaptation to the patient’s condition
• End of life care for those with an estimated prognosis of not significantly more than two weeks
• Specialist respite care where no other facility can be found to meet that need.

Priority is given to patients and carers residing in the NHSCT but other cases are considered on the basis of need.

Multidisciplinary Team

The Unit is staffed by a multi-professional team, with appropriate specialist palliative care qualifications and / or experience. They provide holistic twenty four hour care for the patients and families using this service. Team members include:

• Macmillan Consultants in Palliative Medicine leading a medical team
• Macmillan Ward Manager leading nursing team
• Macmillan Social Worker
• Chaplain
• Pharmacist
• Macmillan Physiotherapist
• Macmillan Occupational Therapist
• Dietitian
• Speech and Language Therapist
• Ward Clerk and Administration staff
• Volunteer Service
• Support staff

When necessary the team liaise with other healthcare professionals in hospital and / or the community about ongoing care or treatment.


The Unit has:
• 12 single rooms with en suite facilities and wheelchair and bed access to a private patio area. Each room has a pull down bed if family need to stay over. TV and Wireless (wi-fi) internet access is available in each room.
• A Day Room with comfortable chairs, a TV and access to the garden area.
• A Quiet Room for meditation, reflection or prayer.
• A relatives’ overnight room with bed settee and shower facilities

Admission procedure

The majority of inpatient admissions are arranged between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday to ensure that the patient can be assessed and admitted by a medical member of the palliative care team. The medical team are not available after 5pm. This will also allow necessary drugs to be obtained from Pharmacy.

Outside these times patients with complex specialist palliative care needs, and requiring hospital admission are admitted via the normal process via A&E ensuring urgent medical needs are dealt with appropriately. They are then assessed for transfer to the Unit in a timely manner by a member of the HSPCT.

Out of hours

In exceptional circumstances General Practitioners wanting to admit patients with complex specialist palliative care needs directly to the Unit, must liaise personally with the consultant on call who can be contacted via the Antrim hospital switch board (028 94 424000). In such circumstances admission remains dependent on prioritisation of need and availability of a room.

Waiting list

Patients are admitted to the Unit according to priority when beds are available. Whilst awaiting admission the patient and family will be offered specialist palliative care advice and support by either the HSPCT or the NI Hospice Community Palliative Care Team, depending on the location of the patient. A domiciliary visit by a Palliative Medicine consultant can also be arranged.

Contact details

Macmillan Unit
Antrim Area Hospital
Bush Road
BT41 2
TEL: 028 9442 4394

Page last updated:02 July 2012