Pediatric Hospice Care
Compassionate Care for Children
For a terminally ill child, what has become normal is no longer playing with friends, going to school, and begging to stay up one hour more at night. Life has become a sea of worried adults, pricking needles, and feeling tired and in pain amidst the bland walls of the hospital. While the decision for the parents to stop active treatment and begin pediatric hospice care is a nightmare, for the child, the focus is creating a new more comfortable environment, with less pain, less fear, and as much happiness as possible. Where there can no longer be healing or recovery, at least there can be peace and family.
Pediatric Hospice Care Philosophy
Pediatric hospice services have the same philosophy as that for adults; to affirm life, add joy to each remaining day, and provide as much comfort as possible. And the goal is the same as well; to meet the emotional, psychological, and physical needs of the terminal patient and their family, friends, and caregivers. Pediatric hospice is a coordinated program of services for children from birth to young adulthood and is used for wide-ranging diagnoses including heart conditions, neurological disorders, cancers, and many more. There are significant differences in the intensity and approach with childhood disorders because disease trajectories are far more varied. Studies have shown that terminally ill adults receive less aggressive treatments for shorter periods of time than terminally ill children. But when children begin pediatric hospice, their treatments don’t end completely, but the focus is still shifted from curing to comfort.
Pain and Symptom Management for Children
Pain and symptom management can be more complicated with childhood diseases as well, so palliative care is a primary focus of pediatric hospice for the patient. For the surrounding family and friends, bereavement services are especially important. A child’s impending and subsequent death can shake anyone to the core, and families can have an extremely difficult time coming to terms with the reality of the situation. In these circumstances, it is essential that families take advantage of the various bereavement services that are offered through 3HC.