FUNDING is being made available to buy specialist equipment and pay a staff member to lay the groundwork for the opening of a €6 million respite centre for disabled children in Limerick.
But the HSE says that it still does not have any additional funding to open St Gabriel’s centre in Mungret, despite the fact that construction was completed last October.
The centre, which can cater for severely disabled children, who also have complex medical and nursing needs, was built largely through fundraising efforts and with the aid of a contribution of more than €1 million from the JP Mc Manus fund.
St Gabriel’s currently provides a wide range of other services for up to 600 children.
Advocates of the respite facility say that it is vital for families who are currently caring for severely disabled children to have access to respite care to sustain them long-term and avoid children having to go into extremely costly full-time care.
The six-bedroomed facility would be heaven-sent for up to 80 children and for families in the Mid West who need respite from the constant care their disabled children require.
But, according to the HSE, the money is not there to staff and open the centre at present.
In a statement to the Limerick Post, a spokesman for the HSE congratulated St Gabriel’s on the standard of the facility which was developed predominantly from their own resources.
However, while he said that the centre was a welcome development, the HSE does not currently have funding to open the facility.
“However, it is hoped that in time, there will be funding to incrementally open aspects of the service.
“In the meantime, the HSE has provided funding towards specialist equipment for the centre and towards employment of a member of staff who will undertake predatory work which is required for the commissioning of this service.”