When your parents die, you become an orphan; lose your spouse, you are a widow[er]; but lose your child? There is no name for that. It is an unthinkable, unspeakable loss.
Suzanne Gwynn, a registered nurse in Seattle, has worked intensely with children and young adults and their families in oncology and hospice care for over 30 years. Watching families live with the unimaginable day after day has compelled Suzanne to dream of a palliative care home; a safe place for them to land. She calls this place Ladybug House.
Suzanne’s efforts have caught the attention of the White House, where she was invited as an “Honored Maker Attendee” for the first ever White House Maker Faire held on June 18, 2014. The next day she was able to meet with Washington State Senators Cantwell and Murray who are both supporting her efforts.
"If we cannot add days to the life of a child, we will add life to their days."
Our Purpose is to become the national palliative care leader for children and young adults with life-limiting illnesses, inspiring similar homes in cities and towns across the country.
Our Care Philosophy
When a child is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, we understand that the family’s world is turned upside down. For many, this is the beginning of an emotional journey which is unpredictable and full of challenges. Ladybug House will offer compassionate therapies which include pain management and support services for families’ physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs.
We will establish a family support team which will provide a full range of respite and hospice care services to individuals, couples or families. We believe palliative care can help loved ones make the most of every moment they have together.
Why is Ladybug House needed?
Every day in the United States, over 5,000 children with chronic conditions are within the last six months of their lives. Every year, over 53,000 children die in this country, over 80% in hospitals.
Many hospitals are providing high quality hospice and palliative care. Imagine this care being provided in a home designed to care for family and friends as well as the child.
Ladybug House will provide support to families during the unimaginable in a home full of life, love and respect. We will meet families’ needs as they define them for as long as they need us. We will celebrate every day, every moment, and every life.
What we plan to do?
In the United States there are only two palliative care homes for children: George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA and Ryan House in Phoenix, AZ. In the United Kingdom there are 49 homes and our neighbors in Vancouver, BC just built their second home last year.
As a nonprofit, the goal of Ladybug House is to build and operate a freestanding community-based Palliative Care Home based in Seattle. We will offer free end-of-life care to children and young adults with life-limiting illnesses and family respite for rest and renewal from the daily demands of caring for a very ill child.
Ladybug House will be built on an acre of wooded property overlooking a body of water or other serene space. We will offer families an opportunity to connect and interact with other families experiencing similar circumstances, providing supportive relationships not found elsewhere.
What we will provide?
At Ladybug House, medical professionals will deliver 24/7 quality respite and hospice care and will be available from the point of diagnosis through recovery or bereavement. We will provide a range of flexible programs and services to meet families’ individual and changing needs.
We will follow state-of-the art palliative care protocols, supervised by a board certified physician in partnership with nurses trained in hospice care. We will have child life specialists, bereavement specialists, teachers and other support staff. This palliative care team will support the family as the child’s condition progresses.
We will also offer a support network for healing and understanding with special support not only for parents, but also for siblings, grandparents and friends as they work through their difficult emotions of loss and grief.
Ladybug House will offer family suites, a variety of therapy rooms for music, art and sensory exploration, a media facility and even a kennel for pets. We envision a family style kitchen a full-time cook, as well as amenities for families and guests to prepare their own food favorites. Imagine indoor and outdoor areas for meditation and reflection, a physical therapy area and an interactive, outdoor covered playground.