The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation provides home nursing care and support for young children, up to the age of four, who suffer severe intellectual and physical developmental delay as a result of brain damage, as well as offering essential respite to their parents and families, including end of life support.
Set up in 1997, by Jonathan Irwin and his wife Mary Ann O’Brien in memory of their son Jack whose home nursing plan became the blueprint for Jack & Jill, the organisation is marking its 20th anniversary this year and is the only charity providing this kind of support in the 26 counties.
As one could imagine, for the parents of babies who are born with life threatening and severely debilitating conditions, this can be an emotional and exhausting time. Jack & Jill are there for such parents to lend practical, hands on support and home nursing hours to give them a much-needed break from the intense homecare regime.
This is provided through home visits from nurses who train and empower the family to care for their sick child at home. These are highly qualified and experienced nurses who design a home nursing care plan specific to the family’s needs, as well as providing practical advice to parents on how to access the services they require from the HSE and putting them in touch with other parents in similar situations. The unique Jack & Jill homecare model, which is nationwide and operates 365 days a year, provides direct funding to families, therefore the money follows the patient into the home.
The National Lottery is proud to support the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation in its wide remit and since 2010, through National Lottery funding for Good Causes has given more than €480,000 in grants, via the Department of Health and the HSE to this charity.
The foundation uses the Good Causes grants to fund a specialist children’s liaison nurse, of which there are 12 who are the direct links with the families all over Ireland availing of the foundation’s support. This core nursing team mobilises an army of 1,000 nurses around the country that deliver the home nursing hours, often referred to by parents as ‘the gift of time’ to 300 families today and 2,300 families over the last 20 years. Time to do the normal things that others take for granted like a full night’s sleep, going shopping or taking the healthy siblings to the park.
This funding is vital to the foundation’s operation as the charity is primarily funded by the generosity of the public to the tune of over 80% of the €3.5 million it requires to provide this critical service, with no means test and no waiting list.
For more information on the charity’s services or to learn more about the family stories behind the Jack & Jill Foundation, visit www.jackandjill.ie