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We feel safe leaving our son in the very best of care

JOE and June Reynolds have enjoyed their first break away from their disabled son for the first time in eight years.

Mum-of-three June said that they found it difficult to go on their Spanish break but they had peace of mind knowing Lucas (10) was receiving the best of care.

The young couple from Clondalkin are among hundreds of families who can use the respite facilities at the new LauraLynn House, a beautiful building created for children with terminal illness and in special care.

The Reynolds, who have two other sons Joseph (8) and Jack (4), have been using Sunshine Home for eight years.

"It's a home from home," June said. "I can spend time with Joe and the other kids. Lucas needs 24/7 care, this gives us time for our other children.

"It took me eight years to stop having heart palpitations every time he comes in. We never truly feel great leaving him alone, but we know he has the best of care."

The couple struggled to care for their Lucas, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is visually impaired due to complications during his birth.

June is now his full-time carer and comes to the children's Sunshine Home for respite care a couple of times a month.

"Lucas never slept for the first two years of his life. That meant that one of us never slept," June said. "It was a very difficult first two years -- I had to leave work and Joe was trying to keep his job."

But Joe, who works for South Dublin County Council, said that the support system for parents and families was immense.

"Anyone who has a child born with a disability knows that it is something they have to deal with on a daily basis. This is invaluable help, they give unique care to our son and cater for all his needs," he said. "When Lucas is in respite care, we are safe in the knowledge that he is being well looked after.

"To sum up, what LauraLynn House gives to us is that it gives us a normal life. We will be forever indebted to them. They provide nursing care for 24 hours a day. It means that we can relax."

Leona Burke from Tallaght depends on the service for her disabled son Jamie (4).

Jamie suffers multiple seizures on a weekly basis due to a rare condition he developed at birth known as Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome.

He was also born with a hole in his heart and has mobility problems.

"It's very important -- you can leave them somewhere and do every day things, knowing that they are safe and happy and looked after," she said.

Leona, who also has a daughter Amber (14), had to fight for nursing care at home and a special buggy.

She said: "Everything is a battle. Parents of disabled children feel isolated. We are fast becoming the forgotten ones.

"When you see something like this building, it is really great to see what Irish people can do," she said.

"But it is a crying shame that no funding came from the State for this."