The need for more children’s hospices

Today is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and is a chance for Very Special Kids and the only other two children’s hospices to highlight their unique support services in the hope of reaching more Australian families who have a child with a life-limiting illness.

Very Special Kids Hospice in Victoria, Hummingbird House in Queensland and Bear Cottage in Sydney provide 24 hour specialist care for children with complex care needs with a team of qualified doctors, nurses, carers and trained volunteers. Families who have a child with a life-limiting condition, can access these free-of-charge services for planned and emergency respite, as well as end-of-life care.

IMG_20170119_184516Three-year-old Breana Zois from Victoria was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome only days after she was born and had her first open heart surgery shortly after.

Breana’s mother Nicole is her 24-hour carer, and father Spiros and three other young siblings help where they can but sometimes need a break from the demanding nature of Breana’s condition.

“Very Special Kids is vital for our wellbeing and in assisting us to care for Breana. It’s the one place we can confidently leave Breana and know she will be well looked after“ said Spiros.

When it came time for Queensland parents Brad and Mel Cooper to say goodbye to their adored two-year-old son Cody, they knew they wanted him to receive care at the end of his life at Hummingbird House. cody

“When Cody died, the team took away some of our sadness and grief. They took care of us and we felt like we were home. Everyone thought ahead to what we would need, and made us all feel so comfortable” said Mel.

The emotional, physical and financial struggle for families can be immense and without specialised support services, they may have nowhere else to turn.

Very Special Kids Chief Executive Officer Michael Wasley says “we still have a long way to go for hospice care in Australia. We are one of three children’s hospices in the country, whereas if you compare that to the 52 in the UK, it’s a huge difference. There’s still a significant unmet need of families we could be reaching.”