Pediatric palliative care is a type of specialized care for children and young people with serious, chronic or life-limiting illnesses. In contrast to hospice, which cares for the terminally ill, palliative care focuses broadly on improving a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing and providing comfort in a variety of ways. Learn more about this unique form of specialized care and its benefits below, and consider if it is a good option for your child.
What Does Pediatric Palliative Care Do?
The primary focus of pediatric palliative care is to alleviate discomfort, pain and other forms of distress for children and young people living with a debilitating disease or condition. This includes providing emotional and psychological support, such as stress relief and therapy, as well as attending to one’s physical needs by easing their pain or discomfort.
Another unique feature of pediatric palliative care is its collaborative team-based approach to holistic care. Rather than rely on a one-size-fits-all practitioner, palliative care is provided by a team of specialized experts who each bring their own expertise to the table. These professionals generally include doctors, nurses, counselors, social workers, spiritual assistants, volunteer caregivers, massage therapists, music therapist, and other practitioners depending on the patient’s needs. By working together to attend to a child’s holistic needs, pediatric care teams can attend to a child’s wellbeing in every way possible, be it physical, emotional, psychological, social or spiritual.
Pediatric palliative care doctors may also assist a patient’s caregivers and families cope with the experience of having a child struggle with a serious illness. This can range from taking active steps to ensure that family members’ emotional and physical needs are met, providing respite care, or even by simply offering practical advice for families making difficult medical decisions for their child. Again, the focus of palliative care is always on providing relief from the stress of illness, and striving to improve the quality of life for patients and their family, wherever necessary.
Who Receives Pediatric Palliative Care?
Pediatric Palliative Care is available for child patients who suffer from all kinds of serious illnesses, regardless of the stage or progression of their illness. Children range from those who suffer from cancer, heart or lung disease, neurological disease, autoimmune disorders, birth defects, trauma and other conditions. In addition, palliative care is for children suffering a range of symptoms, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Stress and anxiety
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain and Fatigue
- Delirium (agitation)
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Congestion, coughing and other respiratory issues
- Edema (swelling)
Key Benefits of Pediatric Palliative Care
Working together with your child’s primary physicians, pediatric palliative care provides many other benefits that perfectly compliment remedial care. By treating symptoms and stress, providing respite care and support, and offering communication and guidance when necessary, pediatric palliative care serves as an extra layer of support for your child and family. Learn about a few of the key benefits of pediatric palliative care below.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of pediatric palliative care is the all-around support and care that it provides. Once initiated, palliative care is always available to manage your child’s pain and discomfort and alleviate symptoms when necessary. In addition, palliative care teams will treat side effects, minimize stressors, and recurrently assess your child’s physical and psychological well-being to maximize their comfort long-term.
Secondary Support Options
Pediatric palliative care also offers an assortment of alternative support options aimed at improving the quality of life for child patients and their families in a variety of contexts. These services include ‘integrative therapies’ such as music and massage therapy, as well as in-home and respite care, care coordination and care goals assistance, child life services and sibling/family support.
Family-Focused Support and Guidance
Pediatric palliative therapists and support service providers will work with your family and child to articulate and work-towards care goals that are aligned with your values, beliefs and customs. This helps ensure the families’ peace of mind while ensuring that their cognitive, physical and emotional needs are met on their terms.
Moreover, pediatric palliative professionals can offer your family emotional support, guidance, and practical advice for addressing their child’s healthcare needs in a range of contexts. Whether you need advice for making a difficult medical decision or simply making your home stress-free, a professional palliative care professional is always there to lend their expertise to you.
Contact KidsCare Of The Rockies For More Information
We hope this article has helped you better understand what pediatric palliative care entails and the many benefits it provides. To learn more about the advantages of pediatric palliative care or to see if it is a feasible option for your child and family, contact KidsCare of the Rockies today. KidsCare of the Rockies is a pediatric palliative and hospice program that provides holistic care to children coping with a life-limiting illness. Find out how our kind-hearted, supportive pediatric pediatric care network can significantly improve your child and family’s quality of life.