Connor’s House was founded in 2009 in memory of Connor Scott Millard, a spunky 8 year old boy with significant medical and developmental challenges, whose strong desire to live a normal life caused all involved in his care to push the envelope of current treatment in order to allow him to live at home as much as possible.
Connor’s House services provide the support needed to ensure families of children with life-shortening conditions have all the supports and resources needed to manage the 24/7 care requirements of their children while enjoying as normal and vital a family life as possible.
There are two million children in the U.S. who suffer from life-shortening illnesses, nearly 400,000 of which require ‘round-the-clock care. More than 10,000 of these families live in New Jersey.
These families face incredible personal, familial and job stresses – and often failures — because there are few, if any, accessible care and support services outside of institutional settings. This complex, confusing and often contradictory care environment can overwhelm, and families need advocates and supports not only for a better outcome for their ill children, but for their family as a whole.
Currently Connor’s House provides support services for more than 65 families in New Jersey and the eastern United States, with clients coming through word of mouth. Each family receives services designed to meet their specific challenges and needs, based not only on medical needs but also on the unique emotional, familial, professional and other challenges they face.
From the day of diagnosis of a life-shortening condition Connor’s House provides a comprehensive program of family-centered care including medical, psychological, social and spiritual services. These include but are not limited to: advocacy training; grief counseling; intervention and mediation; sibling support programs and events; medical and professional referrals; and sometimes just a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to lean on.
To date all Connor’s House services have been provided by volunteers, and no family has or will ever be asked to pay for them. However, in order to grow to meet the needs of the thousands of families of children with life-threatening conditions we have to move beyond the volunteer.
Connor’s House intends to increase the number of families receiving support services in and around New Jersey in each of the coming years. Through increased referrals and community outreach we will increase our client families to 100 in 2013, 125 in 2014 and 150 in 2015.
In 2012 we hired Nathan Rudy as our first Executive Director, and through a multi-year strategic planning process have determined a need to retain an additional two employees during 2013 and an additional employee in 2014. These staff will provide counseling and coordination of services for families, volunteer recruitment and coordination, resource development, community outreach and event planning.
Connor’s House has begun the capital campaign process to open a facility within five years providing families of children with life-threatening illnesses with palliative, respite, symptom-management and end-of-life care in a friendly, home-like environment. Guests will stay and rest for short periods of time – generally two days to two weeks – and interact with other families sharing similar experiences.
While their child is in Connor’s House’s care, families can take the opportunity to attend to other family, business and personal needs. Maybe a weekend away for the parents, taking another child to the dentist, or a mandatory business trip. Or the family can stay in a guest suite and enjoy each other as a family.
Regardless of how they use the time, parents will be relieved of the 24/7 burden of caring for a child with complex health needs as Connor’s House’s staff manages the skilled nursing, cleaning, cooking and other needs of the family. As a trusted family partner, Connor’s House will give the parents the comfort of knowing their child is receiving the same quality of care he or she would receive at home.