How Is Hospice for Children Different from Hospice for Adults?

There are few things more devastating than having a child who needs hospice. Each day is a challenge as you try to salvage a few rare, pleasant moments that can become precious memories.

Pediatric patients have very specific needs, and that’s why hospice for children is very different from the hospice program for adults. We’ll review these differences as well as provide some information to help you with a parent’s nightmare: how to tell a child they are dying.

3 Ways Hospice for Children is Different From Hospice for Adults

1. Pediatric Patients Can Qualify for “Concurrent Care”

When adults enter hospice, they are no longer seeking curative treatment, meaning they have decided to let the disease “run its course.” This is a requirement for adults to receive hospice care.

However, hospice for children is different. These children and young adults can continue to get treatment for their disease while still receiving hospice services. This is what we mean by “concurrent care.” Concurrent care can be an option for children and young adults up to age 21. Hospice services can be implemented as an addition to a current care plan.

2. We Offer a Customized Approach to Pain Management

Symptom and pain management are more difficult with childhood diseases. This is because medications must be carefully monitored to avoid any adverse reactions.

Children may also find it hard to communicate the level of their pain. It’s often challenging to distinguish pain from other types of distress in children. That’s why we use age-appropriate tools in our hospice for children program. We’ll be able to more accurately assess what they need and provide it for them.

3. Specialized Bereavement Services for Parents and Family

While we offer bereavement services to all our hospice patients, we recognize that losing a child is one of the worst things that could ever happen to someone. Therefore, our bereavement services are especially important. We understand that a loss like this shakes people to the core.

Our counselors have helped other families who have lost a child, and therefore, we recognize that bereavement services must be modified in order to help families with this specific tragedy.

We want you to know that you are never alone. We will always be here for you.

How to Tell a Child They Are Dying

It’s a tragedy no one wants to live through: How do you tell a child that they are dying? There is no one easy answer and no formula to follow. Everything hinges on how well you know your child and their capacity to understand. You’ll need to adopt a different approach depending upon the age and maturity of your child. Realize that there’s no one “correct” way to tell your child.

We can offer some simple guidelines on how to tell a child they are dying:

  • Be consistent. Whether you decide to tell your child the truth up front or you decide to wait, it is up to you. Just be consistent and be sure your spouse, partner  or family member is reinforcing the same message.
  • Choose the correct time and setting. It’s not a good idea to tell your child before they go to school or before they are meeting a friend. Be sure to find a safe space where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Realize that you may need to have the conversation in “pieces,” and it’s not a good idea to overwhelm your child with too much information at once.
  • Discover what your child already understands about what is going on with them. Ask them questions so they can express any worries or fears.
  • Seek out your support system. How to tell a child they are dying is emotionally and psychologically draining. It represents the worst fears. Remember that it’s equally important for you to reach out to your support system of friends and relatives. Don’t forget that our 3HC family is a part of this support network.

Whether Providing Hospice for Children or for Adult Patients, 3HC is Your Partner in Care

We’ve discussed the many ways in which hospice for children is different from hospice for adults. But there are some things that are the same.

At 3HC, our pediatric hospice services utilize the same empathy and caring philosophy that we have for adults: to affirm life, add joy to each remaining day, and provide as much comfort as possible.

We want to help you through this difficult period of your life. Know that we are always there to provide service, care and an understanding shoulder to lean on. After all, your family is our family.

Do you believe your child may need hospice care? Contact us for a referral.

Explore this website for more information on our pediatric hospice services.