Ennis woman Anne Marie Hayes has been championing the role played by Milford Hospice in the provision of end-of-life palliative care to hundreds of people from Clare and the Mid West region over the years.
Milford Care Centre is the designated specialist palliative care service provider for Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary. It operates through consultant-led teams of professionals at Milford Hospice inpatient unit in Castletroy and its Hospice At Home care teams, working in conjunction with doctors and local support bed units across the region Ann Marie’s job as one of the Milford Care Centre team is an onerous one. She is the fundraising co-ordinator and it hasn’t been easy tapping the public for financial support, particularly during the economic downturn and at a time when people been forced to tighten their financial belts.
Undaunted, however, it’s been a case of carry on regardless and the onus is on her shoulders to come up with creative and imaginative ideas to continue to raise the necessary funds.
In addition to having to raise €1.5m each year to meet the shortfall in the day-to-day operational budget for hospice care, there is also a fundraising target of €2m a year to be achieved over the next four years to help construct a new purpose-built specialist hospice unit for the Mid-West.
As Milford Care Centre embarks on the build of the hospice unit, fundraising initiatives such as the annual Harvest Fair have become even more imperative.
The largest single fundraiser of the year, the Milford Hospice Harvest Fair takes place on the grounds of the University of Limerick on Sunday next.
Working with Milford since 2008, Ann Marie has witnessed the rapid expansion in the range of services offered in response to growing demands. Last year, Milford looked after over 1,700 patients across the region, with 27% of those in need of care coming from within Clare.
“I get great satisfaction in being able to work within a service sector and an organisation that is so people-driven. Certainly no two days are the same and, while we are meeting people at a very emotional time in their lives, it can also be life-affirming.
“We depend on the generosity and fundraising efforts of the wider community to enable us to offer this special end-of-life care and to continue to develop the services in response to challenging demands,” she says.
It is Anne Marie’s view that many people in the wider Clare area are not fully aware of the various specialist inpatient facilities and multi-disciplinary Hospice At Home services that the organisation provides.
The centre relies greatly on community fundraising initiatives from across the entire region to make a vital contribution to the ongoing provision of services. “When I meet with families that have used the services, be it the Hospice At Home or the inpatient unit, they are truly thankful for the support they receive at Milford,” she outlines.
“It makes me more driven to co-ordinate fundraising events and to come up with the creative and imaginative ideas to continue to raise the necessary funds. Especially now with our new hospice development on the horizon, there is additional pressure on fundraising.”
This year’s Harvest Fair will open to the public from 11am to 4pm, with free admission and plenty of parking. It promises to be a fun family day out with a children’s area and lots of attractions that will be popular for the younger members of the family.