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Horizon House provides new focus for children’s hospice care

The recently opened Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice opened its doors to members of the public and media to view the new centre catering for life limited children in Northern Ireland.

Avoiding an institutional feel, the centre attempts to recreate a home-from-home environment for the children and parents. The well-furnished yet functional centre, which opened at the start of October at a cost £4 million, was made possible primarily by the generosity of the Northern Ireland public.

Horizon House, built on a four-acre site located in Newtownabbey, overlooks Belfast Lough and is the first centre of its kind in Ireland to offer specialist care and respite for children with life limiting conditions.

Speaking on Tuesday October 16 Patricia O’Callaghan, Head of Home at Horizon House said: “Many life limited children are cared for at home by parents and extended family, which places an extraordinary strain on normal family life. With our unique home from home atmosphere, families can come in for a break with their children, enjoy real family time and hopefully feel confident enough to give themselves a break from their full time care. We are delighted that is up and running, delighted with our families who have been waiting a long, long time.”

The state-of-the-art facilities at Horizon house include a hydrotherapy pool, a multi-sensory room, an art and craft room, a soft play area and an outdoor play area. There are 10 specially equipped children’s bedrooms and 6 family units with ensuite facilities, a kitchen and living room that allow whole families to live in for up to two weeks at a time.”

Rosemary Calvert Chairman of the Northern Ireland Hospice said despite the five years in coming to fruition the building was “well worth the wait” and that support from the public was key to Horizon House’s success and future.

She added: “On behalf of the families who will make use of this tremendous facility over the coming months and years, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to every single individual, business and organisation who has made a contribution, however great or small. Without their generosity, Horizon House would simply not be here.”

The centre will require around £2 million a year to maintain the service and taken together with the adult care provided in Somerton House the two centres will run up a yearly bill of £6 million.

Mrs Calvert added: “This is just the beginning. The biggest challenge now lies ahead. It will cost £2 million a year to keep this wonderful service going and all of our Hospice families depend on the public’s continuing generosity.” (AMcE)

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