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The LauraLynn Foundation.

Ann McMahon has been interested in the LauraLynn Foundation since she read about its beginnings and about the work it does so it was no surprise that she selected it as the recipient of funds raised through her Birthday Party recently. The total reached €1,200, which has now been lodged in the LauraLynn bank account. Thanks for all the generous donations and this money will help some family, some child, during difficult times. When the total was €1,140 Ann informed them that she was wanting to present the donations and they advised her to lodge it in their account and then go up to Dublin to see the Hospice and learn how the money is spent. She did that last week and it was overwhelming to hear the expanse of work they do and how they do it.
The LauraLynn Children’s Hospice Foundation was set up in 2001 by Jane and Brendan McKenna after their daughters, Laura four and 13-year-old Lynn, died within two years of each other. Having had personal experience of the lack of respite or specialist care for children with life-limiting conditions, Jane and Brendan established the LauraLynn Foundation and dreamed of building a hospice dedicated to their memory.  They worked tirelessly raising funds and fulfilled their dream when they joined forces with The Children’s Sunshine Home Hospice Project and succeeded in building a dedicated children’s palliative care unit on a site adjoining the Children’s Sunshine Home. It was opened in September 2011 by President Mary McAleese and since then has provided care and support to more than 355 families from the time of diagnosis, through crises and where required at end of life and into bereavement.
Jane and Brendan continued to work in a voluntary capacity with the hospice helping to promote and fundraise for operational costs until August 2016 when they retired from their public role in order to have time to pursue personal interests. However, they are still an important part of the ethos and story of the organisation that bears the names of their beautiful daughters.
LauraLynn began by providing long-term residential care for a small number of children and young people with profound intellectual and physical disabilities. However, reflecting a changing emphasis in service towards an expansion of Family Support, Symptom Management, End-of-Life Care, Bereavement Support and Direct Care for children and their families the Laura Lynn Foundation has broadened its services with more cencentration on Home Care. Their aim is to build on the excellence of care that exists at LauraLynn House and enable all families regardless of where they live, who need care, to access it. The LauraLynn@HOME programme, started in June 2014, and is currently in two HSE regions in Ireland. It provides respite hospice care in the comfort of the family home and is delivered by experienced children’s nurses and health care assistants and supported by LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.

As part of this strategy, LauraLynn recently established a Clinical Education & Training Department providing a range of accredited educational programmes and initiatives to healthcare professionals and others involved or interested in children’s palliative care. This development is key to ensuring the development of qualified and highly skilled staff in the area of children’s palliative and intellectual disabilities. It facilitates, pioneers and coordinates research and service evaluation to underpin the clinical training and education that they offer to all health professionals.
The Hospice at Leopardstown is a wonderful place and has huge expertise in dealing with the children in their care and also with the entire family. The building is purpose built to maximise the assistance and support they can offer to the child and its family. This modern, award winning health care facility has 8 palliative care beds with 4 family accommodation units. No doubt the sad experience that Brendan and Jane had was instrumental in the decision making regarding what and how they should provide the services. The location in right bang in a very urban setting yet the peace and tranquility inside the grounds and the buildings transports one into a lovely caring and loving atmosphere. They have a beautiful suite called the Butterfly room where end-of-life care is provided and again it offers families complete privacy and professional support at such a difficult time. The support continues with bereavement support afterwards. Outside there is a Sensory garden, which brings one close to nature and provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere for rest and contemplation. It is an amazing place and donations are needed to continuation and development the services further. It was with great satisfaction that Ann and I came away from the LauraLynn House last week and thanks to Niamh, who took us on the guided tour and told us what they do.