Palliative care funding will allow children to spend last Christmas at home – Naughten

In Health by Denis Naughten

Confirmation of a children’s palliative care outreach nurse service in the 2017 HSE Service Plan will ensure many children with a terminal illness will be able to spend their last Christmas at home surrounded by family, states Minister Denis Naughten.

Additional funding is also to be provided for specialist paediatric palliative care in acute hospital settings which will improve the in-patient services available to terminally ill children. The improvement in services for children with a life-limiting condition would allow terminally ill children to leave hospital for Christmas, which in some cases will be their last Christmas, and to be surrounded by family in their own home.

“In the past been children have been forced to remain in hospital over Christmas, possibly their only Christmas, because the local HSE budget had been exhausted for that year. The fact that a national dedicated fund is now being established is a significant step forward and will enhance the vital service provided by both the Jack & Jill Foundation and The Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice,” added Minister Naughten.

It is estimated there are about 1,400 children living with life-limiting conditions and every year approximately 350 children with a life-limiting condition sadly pass away. To date if a parent wishes to care for their child at home they are dependent on the funding drawn from the overall budget of their HSE Local Health Office.

“Instead of this piecemeal approach, by establishing a national allocation for home support for children with life-limiting conditions, it will improve the service available to severely ill children and ensure consistency of care for children throughout the country.  It will release acute paediatric beds and ensure children will not be forced to spend their remaining days in hospital due to a lack of funds. This is just the first step, but it is a significant one in developing a more comprehensive approach to palliative care services for children,” concluded Denis Naughten.