154,925 registered members
Jack & Jill charity warns of service cutbacks
[Posted: Wed 22/09/2010 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
A charity which provides home care and support to children with severe neurological problems will have to significantly cut its services in the New Year if HSE funding is not increased.
The Jack & Jill Foundation provides a number of services, including home visits from nurses and respite care to the families of children with brain damage, who suffer severe intellectual and physical developmental delay. The foundation was founded by Jonathan Irwin and his wife, Mary Ann O'Brien in 1997, after their experience of looking after their son Jack, who died aged 22 months old.
Speaking to members of the Joint Committee on Health and Children yesterday, Mr Irwin warned of a 25-30% cut in the home nursing care and respite packages financed and supported by Jack & Jill from January 1, 2011, if the HSE does not meet the foundation halfway on funding and increase its annual grant from €556,000 to €1.3 million urgently.
He pointed out that over the last two years, the cost of providing services has increased by 40% while donations have fallen by 25%, with the net result that Jack & Jill is facing a shortfall of €450,000 in the current year to December 31, 2010.
This, Mr Irwin explained, will be covered through the Foundation's remaining reserves.
However, it is estimated that the knock-on effect of a 30% cut in Jack & Jill's service - which means a cut of 24
hours per month to an average family - will cost the HSE an additional €14.7 million in 2011, with an estimated 100 of Jack & Jill's 320 babies returning to hospital care. This is significantly more expensive than the Jack & Jill model of home nursing care.
Jack & Jill requires €225,000 per month to run its existing service and the Foundation wants the HSE to cover €112,500 per month, which equates to half of the cost.
A report published by the foundation earlier this year found that the average annual cost for hospital care for a severely disabled child is nine times more expensive than Jack & Jill's home nursing care - coming in at €147,365 per year for hospital care, compared to €16,422 per child for the homecare provision from Jack & Jill.
That report recommended increased financial support from the State, which in turn would achieve a net saving for the public purse by keeping children at home, rather than in hospital.
"Up until two years ago, we were able to survive on less than 20% funding from the HSE, even though the average government grant to charities is 69%. We want to keep our current model going without any cuts and we will continue to work very hard on practical and creative fundraising to keep this charity going, but we urgently require more funding from the HSE into 2011.
"It's what our children and our families need and want and it makes sense for the HSE too as the Trinity Report shows how much money Jack & Jill saves the State by supporting parents to care for their sick child at home," Mr Irwin told the committee.
Since 1997, the foundation has supported over 1,300 families by providing home visits, practical advice, emotional support, information and guidance, bereavement support and funding for up to 80 hours of home nursing care per month for children up to the age of four.
For more information, click on www.jackandjill.ie
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