Building a Better Health Service


If we could bottle Eilis, we’d have a different health service

Eilis inside image


Leitrim native Eilis Hession has been recognised for her outstanding patient care in the European Kate Granger Awards 2017. Eilis was presented with her award by HIMSS Europe at their eHealth Week 2017 conference in Malta recently.

Eilis is the project lead on a three year community-based pilot project, “Living Well with Dementia”, in Stillorgan, Co Dublin to support people with dementia to continue to live at home and participate in their own community - see

“I am a great admirer of Kate. In her darker days, while she was undergoing treatment for her illness, Kate still had the energy to try to change the way patients were being treated. She experienced that patients are not listened to and cared for as they deserve so she worked to transform that. I am very honoured to receive this important award,” Eilis said.

The jury highlighted her “solid track record and accomplishment of compassionate care”.

She first trained as a Public Health Nurse and went on to become the Assistant Director of Public Health Nursing in her area. Until recently, Eilis was Manager of services for Older Persons CHO6 (Dublin South, East Wicklow), and is now General Manager of Community Services Social Care division for the area. 

The European Kate Granger Awards for Compassionate Care aims to recognise people and organisations that have delivered care with compassion at its heart. The panel of judges look for evidence of ambitious and innovative ways of delivering care, excellent leadership and positive impact on patient experience.

The Living Well With Dementia project commenced in October 2012 and trials new ways to support people with dementia who are living in the community, as well as those who care for them. All members of the Stillorgan/Blackrock community - including shops, schools, clubs, recreational groups and businesses - are invited to join healthcare professionals to play a role in fostering a community that respects, supports and empowers people with dementia and where people with dementia actively participate in a safe environment. If successful, it is hoped that this pilot will influence national policy on the care of people with dementia, improving the lives of tens of thousands of people throughout Ireland.  Eilis is already helping to influence national developments, through her support for the HSE’s Understand Together campaign on dementia.

Dr Diarmuid OShea, Consultant Geriatrician and Clinical Lead National Clinical Programme for Older People, was full of praise for Eilis.

"As an inspiring colleagues go, Eilis is one of the best, reminding all of us who is at the centre of what we do - the person , not the patient or the illness.  In the midst of all she does she manages to find time to direct and drive all sorts of initiatives to find new ways of improving patient care at home and across our health care system.  She has a unique skill set which combines her undoubted compassion and zeal for better care for the older person with drive, enthusiasm and the ability to get people to work with each other united in a common goal - improved integrated care for people as they age. While there may be many people who would be worthy of this award, I can think of none better in Ireland,” he said.

Deirdre Lang, Director of Nursing National Clinical Programme for Older People (NCPOP) and Leadership Development Nursing Profession Older People, said Eilis immediately came to mind when the call for nominees came.

“I had never met Eilis but I had heard her name many times both professionally and personally. My own father has dementia and my family met her on one of the education programmes she had supported. They described this kind caring and compassionate lady who always went the extra mile and who made them feel that there were people in the "system" who genuinely care,” she said.

“I also heard a young man on the Late Late show whose mother had been diagnosed with early onset dementia and whom Eilis had supported throught his journey of loss. He described Eilis as his angel.

If we could bottle Eilis, we’d have a different health service. 

“When myself and Joan Fitzpatrick began to look to others for testimonials we heard so many amazing descriptions to support the nomination. I think she is best summed up in this articulate quote, ‘She a motivational leader with all the human, fiscal and clinical skills required to lead a whole community in creating a changed environment, that is actively supporting and inclusive of people with dementia, enabling them to live their lives to the full in the community.’”

Eilis epitomises what patient care is all about – the person, not the patient or the illness. As well as her work on The Living Well with Dementia Project, she also directs and drives a range of initiatives aimed at finding new ways of improving patient care at home and across our health care system.  Her hard work and compassion, along with her and passion for better care for the older people in Ireland, make Eilis a deserving winner of this award.

In the words of The Minister for Health Simon Harris: “If we could bottle Eilis we would have a very different health service!”