Benefits of palliative care:
Working together with your primary doctor, the palliative care team provides an extra layer of support through:
• Expert management of symptoms
• Help navigating the healthcare system
• Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
• Close communication and emotional support for you and your child
Pediatric palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and emotional stress of serious illness, no matter the diagnosis.
Pediatric palliative care can address any serious medical condition, including genetic disorders, cancer, prematurity, neurologic disorders, heart and lung conditions and others. It helps relieve symptoms, such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
Because the whole family suffers when a child is seriously ill, pediatric palliative care also aims to improve quality of life for parents, siblings and other family members. Its implementation helps with both physical and emotional comfort, helping the child and the family gain strength to carry on with daily life.
Pediatric palliative care is provided by specialized doctors, nurses, social workers, play therapists, spiritual counselors and other specialists who work as part of the child’s interdisciplinary team. Palliative care offers an extra layer of support that is appropriate at any stage of illness; it often is provided with curative treatment.
Palliative care represents one of the fastest growing movements in US hospitals. The number of teams has increased 148% in the last decade. However, the field remains largely unknown to the American public; three-quarters of Americans (76%) are unfamiliar with the term “palliative care.”
Unfortunately, palliative care is often misunderstood. Most of the American public and many healthcare professionals equate palliative care with hospice. Palliative care is not an end-of-life treatment plan. Rather, it is a better approach to care for the seriously ill child, no matter the prognosis.
Above all, pediatric palliative care is family-centered. It helps with communication and coordination of care. With the close communication that palliative care provides, families are better able to choose options in line with their values, traditions and culture. This improves the wellbeing of the entire family. It is best to start palliative care as early as possible, ideally at the time of diagnosis – benefiting both the child and family as a whole.