The Maison Vale Hospice in Sudbury is expanding its service to help families whose children are dying.

The hospice is offering care for children between the ages of 12 and 18 with terminal cancer.

Léo Therrien, the executive director, said the hospice was approached by Sudbury doctor Sean Murray about the need for the service.

Leo Therrien

Leo Therrien is the executive director of Maison Vale Hospice in Sudbury. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

“The reality is, with children and end of life, a lot of parents want to keep their kids at home. But sometimes, it may not be feasible,” he said.

“So, I think an alternative, like a home-like environment, compared to a hospital — he felt it would be an extra choice for families to have.”

Therrien said there is no hospice in northern Ontario that will take children.

Currently, the only two facilities in the province that will do so are in Toronto and Ottawa, Therrien said. And travelling that distance for care can be hard on families.

“If you have other children, it may mean, often, for families to be split, in the sense that someone has to stay with the child … and the other parent has to take care of the [other] children,” he said.

So far, no children have been admitted for care in the hospice, but Therrien said training is underway for staff and volunteers at the hospice, located in Sudbury's south end.