Finally, a hospice that will provide care for children 15 years old and younger, has opened at the Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka. This is the first ever hospice for children that will provide palliative care, or that of relieving and preventing the suffering of its young patients. It will also provide a place for families of patients to stay and rest while taking care of the children.
The facility is modeled after Britain’s Helen House, the world’s first children’s hospice founded in 1982. In fact, its founder Frances Dominica, who is a friend of Empress Michiko, is responsible for bringing this idea. She was on a visit to the Yodogawa Christian Hospital in October 2009 when she suggested putting up a hospice for children in this place. Masayo Kidani pushed for the creation of the hospice, with the Empress’ backing and advising her to not rush this project and proceed carefully because it is very important work.
The hospice is on the second floor of a new five story annex to the hospital and has twelve private rooms. Six of the rooms are for children receiving end-of-life care while the other six are for those with intractable diseases but are in a more stable condition. There’s also an area where the children can study and play.
2007 statistics from the Japan Pediatric Society show that there are 7,350 children with serious conditions that required extensive care. This hospice is a much needed facility for kids, and more importantly, it’s a charitable endeavour. Families don’t need to pay the costs beyond their health insurance coverage. There are plans to open similar hospices in Kobe and Kanagawa Prefecture.