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Report supports home care for disabled children
[Posted: Thu 04/02/2010 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
The cost of caring for a child with severe disabilities in an acute hospital setting is almost nine times higher than caring for that child in their home, a new report has shown.
The report was commissioned by the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation, an Irish charity which has supported over 1,200 families nationwide with home nursing care and respite for children up to the age of four who are born with or who develop brain damage and who suffer from severe intellectual and physical developmental delay as a result.
According to the report, the average annual cost to the State of delivering acute hospital care for a severely disabled child is estimated to be €147,365. This is almost nine times higher than the average cost of €16,422 per child for the homecare provision currently supported by Jack & Jill.
It recommends that the State increases its financial contribution to the foundation to ensure the sustainability of services, which will in turn lead to major savings for the public purse.
The foundation currently receives only 19% of its funding through the State and raises most of its annual €3 million budget through the recycling of mobile phones – a situation which is ‘unsustainable in the longer term no matter how many mobile phones we collect’, according to founder and CEO, Jonathan Irwin.
“What makes the Jack & Jill model work is that we start off with the needs of the child and the family and we design the home nursing care model around that. We’re keen to get into a 50/50 partnership with the HSE in relation to funding Jack & Jill over the next five years, which makes financial sense, as well as being the right thing to do,” Mr Irwin explained.
The report notes that statutory homecare provided by the State is ‘highly variable’. It highlights the enormous strain, worry and distress placed on families which, it says, is compounded by massive financial losses.
When a child is in hospital, the annual direct costs to a family are estimated to be €22,261. For Jack & Jill provided homecare, the costs to the family are around €2,620. Some of the reasons for these cost differences include family accommodation, parking and food requirements when a child is in hospital.
The report noted that the Jack & Jill homecare model received a much greater satisfaction rating than other service models assessed. It recommends the extension of the service to support children up to the age of six. Currently the service supports children up to the age of four.
According to Mr Irwin, the findings are a strong endorsement of the Jack & Jill service and it is now time to ‘reinforce our financial backing to make Jack & Jill more sustainable and less reliant on mobile phone recycling’.
“Rather than looking for a handout from the HSE, we demonstrate a proven care model that is cost effective and efficient and saves the taxpayer money by keeping our children at home rather than in hospital beds, but this model needs more State funding,” he insisted.
Mr Irwin and his wife, Mary Ann O’Brien, established the foundation based on their own experience with their son Jack who was born a healthy baby on February 29, 1996. Following some invasive trauma, Jack’s brain was damaged and he could not swallow, was blind and deaf and needed a mix of drugs, physiotherapy, postural drainage, reflux operations, gastrostomy and suctioning.
At that time 14 years ago, there were no services for Jack and his parents were advised to pack his bag and leave him at one of the children’s hospitals in Dublin. They refused and instead brought Jack home where he was cared for and loved by his family and friends until he died 22 months later.
The report, There’s No Place Like Home - A Cost and Outcomes Analysis of Alternative Models of Care for Young Children with Severe Disabilities in Ireland was written by the Centre for Health Policy and Management at the School of Medicine in Trinity College Dublin.
For more information on the Jack & Jill Foundation, click here
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