Whenever a child is diagnosed with a serious medical condition (which can sometimes even be life threatening), everything changes in their family. The parents must not only face the fact that their little child is suffering, but also that he is struggling with the task of receiving intensive and ongoing medical care constantly.
Palliative care is a type of care, which provides physical, emotional, and sometimes even spiritual support to children as well as their families. A team of medical specialists which includes doctors, pain management specialists, therapists and nurses make palliative care possible and help in the prevention and relief of pain and suffering of your child. They also help ease anxiety, stress and the fear in children associated with serious illnesses.
Palliative care is sometimes confused with end-of-life care, which includes providing care to patients who are not expected to make a full recovery. The goal of this type of care is to increase and improve the quality of life for a child and their family during serious illnesses, as well as to assist the families in making important decisions about their children’s care and medical future.
Who Requires Palliative Care?
Any child who is suffering from a complex or life-threatening condition is a possible candidate for palliative care. It helps them cope with diseases like cancer, HIV, neurological conditions, AIDS and, liver, heart, lung diseases etc.
Difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care
A lot of times palliative care is confused with end-of-life care (also called hospice care). Although both the care programs share similar goals of providing pain management and symptom relief, the two are not the same, and mentioned below are their minute differences –
- Palliative care is provided at any time during a child’s illness, right from the time of diagnosis. It does not depend on the prognosis (the patient’s outcome) and might even be provided along with curative care. This type of care is provided in hospitals, outpatient settings and even at homes of the children.
- Hospice care is a very specific type of care which focuses only on providing care to patients who are not expected to recover from their medical condition. It is meant for children and adults who aren’t getting treatment any more for their condition, with their life spans being 6 months or less. Hospice care can be provided at homes, hospitals, or in special hospice facilities.
Is Palliative Care The Right Choice for Your Child?
It is a personal decision whether or not you want your child to go through palliative care, and it is best to make that decision after you’ve spoken to your health care provider or doctor. Also keep in mind your child’s needs and your family’s financial position and then determine what services are best available in your area.
If you want to find such services, it is best to talk to your health care provider, doctor or a representative from the hospital your child was admitted in.
The Role of Parents
If you make the decision that your child will benefit from a good palliative care program, then you should remember one thing – these services offered are not just for your child but for you too. The family members who care for seriously ill children face numerous challenges on a daily basis and palliative care programs and personnel help ease a lot of these burdens.