17/02/2006

Minister opens children's hospice

The Minister for Children and Young People, Jeff Rooker, has opened the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice, Horizon House.

The Minister toured the hospice's facilities in Newtownabbey, which include children's accommodation, family rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, a multi-sensory room, art and music therapy rooms and a soft play area.

Mr Rooker met with life-limited children and their families and paid tribute to the staff of Horizon House for their excellent work.

He said: "It is clear that this centre plays a vital role at what is a very difficult and challenging time for these young people and their families.

"The high standard of care that is delivered by very professional and dedicated staff helps by providing respite and end of life care for these very special children and support to the whole family throughout the child's illness and after the child has died.

"I have no doubt that the impressive facilities on offer in Horizon House will enable the Hospice's dedicated staff to cater for the needs of the children involved."

The Minister also paid tribute to the 24-hour on-call Children's Hospice at Home service, delivered by a multi-professional team.

The service helps provides essential support to carers and families to enable sick children to remain at home.

Mr Rooker said: "It is wonderful that the Hospice is able to take account of individual family needs and to offer real choices to parents of children at a time of great stress and distress in their lives."

While many of the life limited children will die before reaching adulthood, the Hospice provides special care facilities to help the family and offer the full-time carer a break.

Children cared for at hospice have progressive illnesses such as muscular dystrophy, rare genetic disorders or life-limiting conditions such as cancer and heart disease, requiring substantial, complex and in many cases, full-time care.

The Minister also commended Hospice Managers for service partnerships which they had formed with local Health and Social Services bodies.

(SP)

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