I understand the Deputy is referring to respite services for children with life-limiting conditions. My Department administers a National Lottery Discretionary Fund from which small once-off grants are paid to community and voluntary organisations, providing a range of health related services. If an organisation wishes to make an application for National Lottery Funding they should send in a formal application. Detailed procedures, along with the application form are set out on the Department's website, www.doh.ie. The HSE receives an annual capital allocation for the building, equipping and furnishing of health facilities. There are always more construction projects than can be funded from the Exchequer's capital health care allocation. The HSE is required to prioritise infrastructure projects within its overall capital envelope taking into account the existing capital commitments and costs of completion over the period. The method and timescale for the delivery of health care infrastructure is dependent on a number of factors; it is a dynamic process constantly evolving to take account of changing circumstances, including the feasibility of implementation.
The Deputy may wish to note that in 2010 the Department of Health published Palliative Care for Children with Life-limiting Conditions in Ireland – a National Policy (DoH 2010) which provides the foundation and sets out clear direction for the development of an integrated palliative care service for children and their families, across all care settings. Following on from the publication of the policy, the National Development Committee for Children's Palliative Care (NDC) was established by the HSE. The NDC is co-chaired by the HSE and the Irish Hospice Foundation. It includes a representative from my Department. The Committee has overall responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the national policy recommendations. The committee’s emphasis on partnership is reflected in its membership comprising statutory, voluntary, professional, and parent involvement.
On 4 March 2013, the Irish Hospice Foundation and LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children's Hospice, in partnership with the HSE published a report titled "Respite Services for Children with Life-limiting Conditions and their Families in Ireland – A Needs Assessment". The report provides a national overview of service provision and future respite requirements as part of a palliative care service for children in Ireland. The report identifies some of the challenges involved in planning for respite care such as difficulties with definitions and terminology; determining the numbers of children who require respite care and the numbers currently availing of services; the extent and location of current service provision; the perhaps at times unnecessary distinction between disability services and palliative care. The report provides an indication of what is currently available and what is required at a national level to provide for the respite needs of children and families. The report acknowledges that a significant level of respite support is already being provided but access is inconsistent around the country and can be dependent on diagnosis and/or geographic location. The report will assist the Department of Health and the National Development Committee for Children’s Palliative Care in planning for the respite needs of children with life-limiting conditions, and is a useful contribution to filling in the gaps in the understanding and knowledge of the way respite services for children are organised. A number of the recommendations in the report are already under consideration by the National Development Committee and the Committee has undertaken to examine all of the recommendations through its on-going programme of work.