Spend some hospice money on care now, says chairman

The chairman of the Susie Long Hospice Fund is calling for some of the €600,000 raised so far by the charity to be spent now on palliative care services.

The chairman of the Susie Long Hospice Fund is calling for some of the €600,000 raised so far by the charity to be spent now on palliative care services.

“It is not all about a physical building, as important as that is,” chairman Malcolm Noonan said. “At the moment we are considering interim measures but we need more detail and are waiting to hear back from St Luke’s Hospital. We can do something to help families now while still maintaining our capacity to raise a significant sum to go towards the capital funding for the hospice.

“We are committed to funding a state-of-the-art hospice facility and this is our priority objective but we need to think outside the box,” he said. “We will continue to work with the planning team to provide the best facility while taking into account the economic situation and the human resources within the HSE.

“I am conscious that the public have put a lot of faith in us and huge sums of money have been raised and there is an expectation that a hospice will be built and we have to maintain that vision. But there is an urgency to support the existing services and to help families and people at a difficult time in their lives and we need to strike that balance,” he said.

“I would like that we could provide ongoing community services to back up the Home Care Team, massage therapy and other therapies so that people can see the tangible benefits of having a hospice group and that we could also support the existing services such as the Kilkenny Cancer Support Service and the Carlow Kilkenny Home Care Team,” he said.

Mr Noonan also said Environment Minister Phil Hogan had reiterated his commitment for a hospice in Phase 2 of a €13 million plan for St Luke’s Hospital.

“Part of the function of the Susie Long Hospice Fund is to act as a lobby group. All we are lobbying for is for the HSE to implement their own plan,” Mr Noonan said. “We are involved in on-going meetings with the planning team at St Luke’s Hospital and proposals were made for an interim six-bed palliative care unit, but we still have to wait to receive the costings from St Luke’s Hospital. We will continue fundraising ad infinitum so that we can contribute to the capital, staffing and complementary services and we envisage that when the hospice is completed the fundraising will be on-going.”

Mr Noonan said the charity had received clarification that a 20-bed hospice at Waterford Regional Hospital would be prioritised first and then a satellite 10- to 12-bed hospice would be built in Kilkenny.

“We are working very closely with Minister Hogan, who set up a meeting last year with Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and the minister has stated that the satellite unit is still a priority,” he said.