Pediatric palliative care provides interdisciplinary, comprehensive care for children and families. Palliative care is whole-person care (meaning: focused on physical, psychosocial, and spiritual healing) and whole-family care (meaning: focused on a child or adolescent within the context of a family and a community).
Palliative care is an approach to care that strives to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Pediatric palliative care focuses on the prevention and relief of suffering through early identification, attentive assessment, and compassionate treatment of pain and other symptoms. The palliative care team partners with patients, families, and the primary medical team to develop a collaborative plan of care to help meet the goals and needs of each child and family.
The palliative care team supports children and families by:
- Considering the patient and family as the center of the unit of care
- Striving to achieve optimal quality of life for patients
- Fostering effective communication between the patient, family, members of the primary health team, and subspecialists
- Helping patients and families to understand prognosis in an honest, compassionate way
- Providing a safe/neutral space for patients and families to weigh the risks/benefits of medical interventions and to consider the side effects of various treatments
- Striving to relieve pain and suffering; whether physical, emotional, or psychosocial
- Recognizing and treating distressing symptoms early
- Recommending and utilizing integrative and alternative therapies such as medical massage, art therapy, guided imagery, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, child life, pet therapy, bibliotherapy, acupressure, aromatherapy, and energy field interventions to help improve pain and manage symptoms
- Supporting siblings and extended relatives (such as grandparents) and even classmates/peers of a child facing a complex illness
- Exploring each patient and family’s values, hopes, and wishes to include enabling advanced care planning
- Determining discharge options and fostering effective, supportive transitions between health care settings
- Realizing that even though medicine may not be able to “fix” all problems or “cure” all complexities; healing and love remain
Palliative care aims to enhance the quality of life for each child in a developmentally appropriate way and within the context of each family’s values.
Learn more about pediatric palliative care through the following resources:Website