OSKAR, the world’s first 24-hour helpline for families with life limited children was launched last week in Berlin, Germany with the number 0800 8888 4711. An initiative of the Bundesverband Kinderhospiz e.V. this service is aimed at the approximately 40 000 families in Germany caring for children with palliative care needs.
“OSKAR fills a very necessary gap in service provision,” so says Sabine Kraft, Managing Director of Bundesverband Kinderhospiz e.V. “Previously, these families would often feel isolated and unsure of where to turn with their concerns and their questions.”
“OSKAR sets a new international standard as there is no other country in the world providing an around-the-clock careline for families of these very sick and vulnerable children,” said Joan Marston, Chief Executive of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN). “OSKAR allows anyone caring for a life-limited child to access qualified assistance at any time of the day or night, which is wonderful. This service is a milestone in children’s palliative care worldwide. “
OSKAR will also provide support to bereaved families, as well as professionals and volunteers working in the field of children’s hospice and palliative care. The helpline is available around the clock including Sundays and public holidays and landline calls from within Germany are completely free.
OSKAR’s patron, Dieter Hallervorden, actor and founder of Die Wühlmäuse Theatre said that it was very comforting to know that someone from OSKAR would be available to provide immediate assistance to affected families. He also expressed his sincere hope that the project would continue to be well supported. To date, OSKAR has been financed exclusively through donations.
Callers will speak to specially trained OSKAR consultants who will not only assist with questions and concerns but will be able to refer callers to suitable professionals in their area accessed through a database of thousands of experts from all over Germany including doctors, specialised care services, psychologists and bereavement counsellors.
“It is great that finally such a service exists for us and others who need it,” said Bernd Seitz from the Saarland Ottweiler. His eight-year-old son Jean-Paul suffers from a very rare, life-shortening genetic disease and requires around the clock care.
“Our problems are so complex that I’m pleased to receive any support.” Referring to his experience of often feeling completely helpless and of the great struggle to find the information and assistance needed to help their son, which they often did by sheer coincidence, “Hearing the diagnosis of Jean Paul’s illness was like having the ground removed from under my feet. There was no one I could ask for advice,” he recalls. “It would have been wonderful if OSKAR had been in existence seven years ago!”
The helpline will be supported by the company EAP-Assist who have trained the OSKAR employees and have offered to provide ongoing support for this most worthwhile project.
You can find out more on the Bundesverband Kinderhospiz website.