Ireland’s only children’s hospice is calling on the Government and health officials to devise a blueprint that would allow children with life- limiting conditions to access hospice care close to home.

The LauraLynn Foundation said specialist palliative care services are “inaccessible” to many of the 700 children and their families who need them.

“There are over 3,800 children in Ireland currently living with a life-limiting condition, with 700 of them and their families needing hospice care,” said chief executive Sharon Morrow.

“Tragically, 352 children with a life-limiting illness will die this year, most within their first year of life. For many of these families, specialist palliative care services that they so badly need are inaccessible.”

As Children’s Hospice Week gets under way, LauraLynn said greater “joined-up thinking” is needed to deliver on the national policy for palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions.

The policy, published in 2010, says palliative care “should be accessible, equitable, flexible, and appropriate, and should meet the needs of any child with a life-limiting condition and their family”.

A spokesperson for Laura-Lynn said families who want to avail of hospice care have to travel to its facility in Leopardstown, a journey some children simply cannot make.

“What we need is an assessment of where these children live so we can plan for services to be closer to them,” said the spokesperson.

LauraLynn, founded just five years ago, has worked with 325 families since its inception. As well as providing specialist palliative care, it provides broader supports to the whole family, including respite for parents, siblings camps, and psychological support.

Throughout Children’s Hospice Week, TV3 is partnering with LauraLynn and will air the first Children’s Hospice Telethon across daytime programmes on Friday. Funds raised will provide specialised care and support for children with life- limiting illness and their families.

For more information on how you can ‘Be a Hero’ for Children’s Hospice Week, go to tv3.ie or lauralynn.ie or text SUPERHERO to 50300 to donate €4


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