THE number of dying children needing the support of a hospice has risen so dramatically in our area that Claire House says it risks having to turn families away. To meet the demand, Claire House is launching an urgent appeal this week.
“The number of children coming to Claire House has risen 84% in the last six years. We are getting to the point where we risk having to turn families away. To stop this from happening we are asking the people of Merseyside to help us reach every dying child,” says David Pastor, Chief Executive of Claire House.
To raise awareness of the importance of its work, the charity is launching a campaign that uses real statements telling stories of what life is like for families who need help from Claire House. The statements will be in Claire House shops, on the radio, on billboards around Liverpool and chalked onto the pavements around Liverpool One.
“There’s no manual to tell you what to do when you lose a child. Luckily most parents won’t need one. But for those who do, the practical advice of Claire House – helping to arrange the funeral and offering counselling to the whole family can be invaluable,” says Nicki Givin from Aintree in Liverpool. Her son, Shea, visited the hospice for six years but sadly passed away last October.
“There is nothing more they can do for our little boy,” Jackie Wild from Bebington on the Wirral recalls the devastating moment she was told this by the doctors looking after her son. Elliot came to Claire House for end of life care in 2011. He was nine years old when he died. Had the family known about the hospice earlier, they could have benefitted from years more support.
One of the main reasons for the increase in demand is that advances in medicine mean that babies and young children, who are born with – or develop – serious illnesses, are living longer with ever more complex conditions.
“Our job is to help families spend precious time together making memories that will last a lifetime,” says Lesley Fellows, Nurse Consultant at Claire House.
“We cannot change the prognosis of the children who come to Claire House but we can help families cope at some of the toughest times of their lives. This might mean getting a child out of hospital and providing medical care so they can either go home or come to the hospice,” she adds.
Money raised by the appeal will be spent on increasing the care the charity offers families in their homes, helping more children at the hospice on the Wirral and building a new children’s hospice in Liverpool.
Claire House already has a site in West Derby, Liverpool, from which it offers limited day-care. In order to deliver the complex medical care the children referred to the hospice need on a 24 hour basis, the charity will need to extensively renovate some areas of the old site and build others.
To find out more about how to get involved with the appeal visit Clairehouse.org.uk