A desperate appeal for State funding has been made by Ireland’s only children’s hospice today.
More than 100 youngsters with complex needs and their families have been cared for at The LauraLynn House since it officially opened last September.
Philomena Dunne, chief executive, said the facility had become a lifeline for families around the country and needed €1.4m from the Health Service Executive (HSE).
“The house is only a reality because of generous donations by members of the public and corporate organisations,” she said.
“It is those same generous people that are currently enabling us to run the house as no additional state funding has been allocated for this purpose.
“We are asking the HSE to identify €1.4m to enable us to continue to care for some of Ireland’s sickest children in a home-from-home environment.”
The LauraLynn Children’s Hospice Foundation was set up in 2001 by Jane and Brendan McKenna after their daughters, Laura, four, and 13-year-old Lynn, died in the space of two years.
It cost €5.5m to build and fit out and costs €2.37m a year to run.
It is in the grounds of the Children’s Sunshine Home in Leopardstown, south Dublin, a charity that also supports the families of children with life limiting conditions with respite, home support and end of life care.
“We know and understand the HSE is under great pressure to allocate resources,” Ms Dunne continued.
“In the past three years we have experienced funding cuts in the order of 16% to the respite and residential care services we have delivered at the Children’s Sunshine Home but have made every effort to ensure this does not impact upon the standard of care delivered.
“LauraLynn House gives families a choice and we want to ensure that this remains to be the case.”
There are approximately 350 child deaths and more than 1,400 children living with life limiting or threatening conditions in Ireland each year.
Dr Joanne Balfe, consultant paediatrician at Tallaght Hospital and LauraLynn House, said families caring for a child with complex needs faced huge challenges.
“Taking home a very sick child can be a frightening experience for some families,” she said.
“LauraLynn House provides families with an all-important choice, be that as somewhere to stay during the transitions from hospital to home, a place for rest from time to time or a place where their child may end their life.
“National Policy in children’s palliative care is based on supporting children and their families in both, in-home and out-of-home respite care and advocates that children where possible should die at home.
“This is very a much part of what we believe at LauraLynn House and we want to ensure that families continue to have a choice in how and where their children are cared for.”