Children's hospice calls for €1.4m in State funds

Fri, May 25, 2012, 01:00

SOME €1.4 million in State funding is needed to enable the State’s only children’s hospice to continue caring for dying children, its chief executive has said.

Laura Lynn House, in Leopardstown, Dublin, costs €2.37 million a year to operate.

But it receives State funding of only €800,000.

The home cares for children who are close to the end of their lives and accommodates mainly those born with life-limiting conditions. Some 1,400 children are living with life-limiting conditions in Ireland.

Laura Lynn House, built in the grounds of the Children’s Sunshine Home, has accommodated more than 100 children and their families since it opened last September.

The centre offers full-time palliative care and 24-hour crisis care as well as respite and transitional care.

Chief executive Philomena Dunne said the service should be available for all the children who needed it.

“These children are never going to be voters, most of them will never get to school,” she said. “But they do exist.”

The service was needed not only for the Dublin Mid-Leinster area, where 440 children with life-limiting conditions have been identified, but for the whole country.

She said the Children’s Sunshine Home was allocated €4 million from the Health Service Executive and €800,000 was diverted to Laura Lynn House.

The balance of running costs were gathered through fundraising, but that could no longer be sustained.

“We are asking the HSE to identify €1.4 million to enable us to continue to care for some of Ireland’s sickest children in a home-from-home environment,” she said.

Funding already in the health system could be “unravelled” and diverted to Laura Lynn House, she said. This could include money being spent on keeping children in acute hospitals who would be better off in palliative care.

The centre could also carry out tasks such as weighing children, instead of them having to attend an acute hospital.

Ms Dunne said she would be lobbying Minister for Health James Reilly to have the funding included in the estimates.

John McWade from Dublin, whose six-month-old son, Leo, is being cared for at the centre, said he and his wife would never have forgiven themselves if Leo, a twin, had died in distress.

Since they moved him to Laura Lynn House he was “not in distress any more”, Mr McWade said.