Founded in 2011, borne out of the desperate need for respite care Iris House is a totally unique model of children hospice and respite care encompassing a holistic approach to free quality care for the whole family, Iris House Children’s Hospice provides life-changing support for families in their own homes in the form of community sits, and in the hospice, itself where we provide a place in which children are encouraged to reach their full potential however limited that may be. Understanding that raising a child with special needs is a full-time job, that comes with a variety of emotional and financial stresses. We purpose to support families through the provision of these and other holistic services, and make a tangible change in their lives.
With over 500 registered children, whose symptoms range from severe epilepsy, cerebral palsy to autism, our mission is to provide free, quality, professional care and therapies to these children and their families by helping to improve their quality of life through an a holistic approach. Our approach highlights the need to support the whole family, training and supporting parents, siblings and extended family members as well as by providing direct hands on care for the affected child.
Our Overarching purpose is to provide holistic, loving, professional Community based, Hospice based respite, overnight and end of life care for special needs children with life threatening illness and or life limiting conditions in the Western Cape, and to provide holistic support for their families. In doing so, tangibly improve the quality of life for children and families affected by disability. Additionally, we seek to further improve the lives of children and families affected through the creation of opportunities for growth and employment for parents of special needs children.
What is your biggest success?
Founding Iris House Children's Hospice, a totally unique model of children's hospice and respite care encompassing a holistic approach to free quality care, and support, the first of it’s kind in South Africa. Under my leadership, the organization has taken up a prominent role in the Special Needs space in the Province and has effected tangible positive change in the lives of special needs children, families and communities across the Western Cape. The significant growth, scope of services reach of Iris House is a significant achievement. I believe that there is no other organisation driving this goal of improving the lives of special needs children to the same visionary degree. Therefore, the creation of a structure to ensure the plight of special needs children and their families could be dealt with in a holistic manner, is my proudest achievement.
What has been your biggest hurdle?
The biggest hurdle I have faced thus far was the limited understanding of the Children's Hospice model and subsequent lack of funding for the program versus the United Kingdom, Europe and USA where Children's Hospice is an extremely popular model. When I introduced the model originally there was also confusion over the term respite care, however after much discussion, training and educating there is now a far higher level of understanding of the term respite care and the Children's Hospice model in the province. "It always seems impossible until it's done" Nelson Mandela is most certainly my motto