On National Playday (Wednesday 4 August) representatives of Wales’ two children’s hospices welcomed Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, to Tŷ Hafan to discuss children’s palliative care services in Wales. National Playday is an awareness day that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives - and saw the Commissioner also discuss Tŷ Hafan and Tŷ Gobaith’s Lifeline Fund campaign for fair and sustainable funding for Wales’ children’s hospices.
It is estimated that there are around 3,600 children in Wales living with a life-limiting condition and approximately 800 of these children have ongoing palliative care needs which require contact with hospital services.
Together Tŷ Hafan and Tŷ Gobaith currently provide paediatric palliative care for more than 450 children with life-limiting conditions and their families across Wales and offer around 2,500 nights of respite care each year.
Speaking about her visit, the Children's Commissioner, who is in her final term of office having been appointed in 2015, said: “It was wonderful to meet with representatives from both Tŷ Hafan and Tŷ Gobaith to discuss their work with children with life-limiting conditions and their families. Both of the hospices provide vital services across Wales, not only in terms of end-of-life or palliative care – but through their music therapy; play therapy and other support services, including sibling support, mum and dads' groups and even a dedicated Scout Group at Tŷ Hafan.
“The ability of children to play and have fun is of the utmost importance, regardless of their health or their physical or mental capabilities. It was so inspirational to visit the hospice on National Playday and to engage with the children, see first-hand how they benefit from the wide range of services available at Tŷ Hafan and see the importance of these services to both the children and their families. Tŷ Hafan and Tŷ Gobaith, for the families that use their services, are a lifeline.”
Speaking of the Children’s Commissioner’s visit, Maria Timon Samra, Chief Executive of Tŷ Hafan, said: “Thank you to the Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland for meeting with representatives from both Tŷ Gobaith and Tŷ Hafan – at our hospice in Sully this morning.
“It was great to celebrate National Playday with Sally, showcase our work and to highlight our calls for a more sustainable funding settlement for Wales’ two children’s hospices.”
Andy Goldsmith, Chief Executive of Tŷ Gobaith added: “Children with life-limiting conditions, like other children, want to be able to play and have fun with their peers, friends and family. That is why National Playday is so important. Thank you to the Children’s Commissioner for her support and for her engagement with both staff and children across the hospices. Tŷ Gobaith look forward to welcoming Sally Holland to our hospice in Conwy in due course.”
Tŷ Gobaith and Tŷ Hafan – together – receive less than 10% of their funding from statutory sources in Wales. This is in stark contrast to children’s hospices in the other UK nations: children’s hospices in Scotland receive 50% of their funding from statutory sources; in Northern Ireland it is 25% while the Republic of Ireland recently announced it would fund 30% of running costs for their children’s hospices. In England, the comparable figure is circa 21%, although recent figures suggest this has risen as a result of the pandemic to 34%, leaving children in Wales even further behind as a result.