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Longford support urged as funding drive for Midlands hospice is launched

Tullamore Lions Club, in association with the farming community in the Midlands, this week launched a very ambitious community-based fundraiser, Hooves 4 Hospice, to provide funds to build a Level 3 Hospice to provide specialist end of life care and support for people in the 4 Midland counties – Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath.

The Project, which has the support of other Lions Clubs and the Irish Hospice Foundation, involves recruiting a large number of farmers willing to rear a young animal, has the potential to raise a sizeable sum of money for this much needed Midland Hospice.

The launch was attended by leaders of farming organisations, farm businesses, community leaders and health care staff throughout the midlands.

Well-known RTE Ear to the Ground farm programme Presenter Ella McSweeney facilitated a discussion with two of the country’s best-known sportsmen; Offaly All-Ireland winner and Offaly GAA county board chairman Michael Duignan and Dubliner Charlie Redmond who both lost loved ones, and both related their different experiences of family hospice care – one who had the experience of Level 3 hospice care and one who did not.

Mr Larry Fleming, President of Tullamore Lions Club welcoming everybody to the Launch in the Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar, explained that Hooves 4 Hospice is the most ambitious project ever embarked on by the club to date.

“The success of this project will potentially benefit every family in the region where specialist end of life care and support is needed,” he said.

Ms Sharon Foley, CEO, Irish Hospice Foundation, outlining the need for a Level 3 Hospice in the Midlands claimed people in the Midlands are at a disadvantage when it comes to hospice and palliative care services compared to those in other parts of the country.

“On the one hand there is excellent palliative homecare available, while on the other there is no regional specialist palliative care unit (often called regional hospice) in the Midlands. This means patients and their families are being denied the full range of services that come with a Level 3 hospice”.

“As research has shown investment per person on specialist palliative care for people in the Midlands is a fraction of that spent elsewhere. More worryingly patients have no choice in their place of care at end of life and have to rely on acute hospitals. In the Midlands, 36% of cancer patients who die, die in an acute hospital compared to 25% in the Mid West. The excellent homecare
teams need the support of specialist colleagues in regional hospices so as to be
able to offer the best care to patients at end of life.”

“All other areas have developed, or have plans to develop, inpatient units for their populations,” she added. Continuing Ms Foley said that the Minister for Health told the Hospice Foundation, this week, that the current model of funding for capital
development of hospice will remain.

“That is, that the local community or hospice groups fund the capital costs of building a hospice and the Department of Health will commit to pay all of the – much more substantial - revenue costs of running the hospice. Now is the time to act to secure the future of hospice and palliative care and its further development in Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath”, concluded Ms Foley.

Mr Pat Lalor, chairman, of the Project committee, outlining how the Project will operate, explained that farmers are being asked to donate a young animal that they or a host farmer will rear for 12 to 18 months.

When that donated animal is sold the proceeds will go directly into the Midland Hospice Building Fund.

Some farmers will donate and rear their own animal. Others will donate an animal which will be placed with and reared by a
host farmer. The Lions Club will purchase young animals, where necessary, to be placed on host farms.

Members of the public can contribute to the cost of purchasing these animals by buying some Hooves on the web site,

Mr Lalor explained that Tullamore Lions Club will source suitable animals and has set up a special sub-committee with farmer input to oversee that part of the project.

It is intended that host farmers will not incur any exceptional costs over and above the cost of accommodating the young animals in their herds.

Animals purchased by Tullamore Lions Club and placed on host farms, will remain the property of Tullamore Lions Club
The Lions Club, he said, has had discussions with farmers and those involved in all aspects of cattle rearing and are very aware of all aspects of animal health and welfare.

The Lions club will be putting in place the necessary arrangements that will ensure we meet our obligations in that regard.

“We are convinced and will work enthusiastically with all our stakeholders to ensure the success of this project and to make as big a contribution as we can to the fund for a Level 3 Hospice in the midlands,” he concluded.

Offaly Hospice Foundation has already set a very significant example by committing €500,000 towards the Midland Hospice Building Fund.

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