06 Jul 2022

Laois and RTÉ woman Claire Byrne backs hospice for Midlands

Mountrath woman recalls the final days of her father's life


Humphrey O'Connor and Claire Byrne the other one offaly Hospice directors Edward Delahunt, Liam Butler, Barbara Doyle, Humphrey O'Connor chairman along with Phyllis Howlin CNS Laois Offaly palliative

Laois woman and RTÉ presenter Claire Byrne is giving her full support to the proposed new hospice unit for the Midlands by taking up the role as Patron of the campaign for a unit in Tullamore.

Offaly Hospice said Claire officially came on board on Friday, December 10 the same day as €1 million was allocated to develop the unit in Tullamore. 

“Well-known RTE presenter Claire Byrne has become Patron of Offaly Hospice. Claire paid a visit to Tullamore on Friday last to see at first-hand the proposed site for the Midlands Regional Hospice on the grounds of the regional hospital.

“Claire's interest in hospice care stems from the excellent care her late father Tom received from Laois/Offaly Home Care team.

“Their specialist help allowed Tom remain at home with good quality of life and symptom control and for that Claire and her family are very grateful. Claire also recognises there are critical situations where patients cannot remain at home and the key gap in the service is the absence of a Specialist Hospice Unit.

“Claire will be a very good Patron and great to have her support,” she said.

Claire spoke about the death of her father and the care he received in the Sunday Independent. The 86-year-old passed away six months ago after a long battle with illness. All of Claire's family spent their final days with their dad in their home of Mountrath.

"We got such a shock and it seemed to happen quite quickly in the end.

"We knew he wasn't going to live forever, but he was just so vibrant and full of life. He was physically strong even towards the end of his life as well. That played into the notion that he would be around forever.

"All of those things create this false sense of security that you are never going to have say goodbye. But ultimately the day came when we did have to say goodbye and it hit hard.

"The loveliest part of that week leading to my father's death was being able to say goodbye. We all have busy lives in our family, but we got an opportunity to come back home together. It was just the six of us and my Mam and we were with my Dad, along with all the professional help that we had," she said.

Architect plans for the have been presented by Offaly Hospice to the HSE and show a 16 bed in patient hospice unit is feasible on the site offered by the HSE. Offaly Hospice, which funded the plans were informed of that welcome decision last Friday. The plans include all elements of an updated 2021 Design Brief put together by HSE estates and Midllands Palliative Care Consultants, Dr Michael Cushen and Dr Pauline Kane. It can now progress the Hospice Project to detailed planning and Planning Permission.

The Minister for Health announced the allocation of €1 million to help fund the planning process for the Level 3 unit.

The hospice will serve Laois, Offaly, Westmeath Longford as well as North Tipperary and East Galway, about 300000 people. See also page 16.

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