‘It’s great coming to work and meeting smiling faces’

By Maurice Garvey

Providing short respite breaks for children with life-limiting conditions is something Suzanne House in Tallaght has been doing for over 30 years.

The free service not only provides a nice break for children aged 1-13 who require 24/7 care, but also for the parents of children with high medical needs.

Niamh Cooney 04

“It gives parents time with their other children, to do homework, go for a walk, as opposed to suctioning or setting up feeds,” said Niamh Cooney, Clinical Nurse Manager Suzanne House.

“Generally we have 16 kids on the books – we don’t provide a convoy belt of care. When kids come in, they are in the same room, same staff, it’s not a big change. It’s reassuring for parents that staff have an understanding of their child’s needs.”

Although the care provided is very demanding, Nurse Cooney doesn’t see it that way.

She continued: “I love it. It’s great coming into work and meeting all the smiling faces. It’s not really work per se if it’s something you love doing, to see kids engage in art, drama, music –someone comes in every Thursday for a massage, which is a nice sensory activity.”

“A parent whose child passed away, came in recently for a cup of tea, and she said she missed the chats. They are genuine chats. You build up a relationship with families.”

Nurse Cooney says there has been a huge demand for respite care in the last three years.

Established in 1986, Suzanne House accommodates boys and girls in the Leinster region, providing optimum nursing and social care provision for children.

Another area of expertise at Suzanne House, is the ability of staff to read the body language of children, who are not in a position to speak to them directly.

“A lot of children are blind and have sensory defects.

“They can’t communicate and use eye-contact. You need to know if they don’t like lying on one side.”

To donate to Suzanne House log onto The Echo’s official GoFundMe page HERE

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