Dealing with children who are suffering from life-threatening conditions can be difficult. Families may not know how to support the child and keep them comfortable during this period. This is one of the reasons why healthcare services tend to offer something known as palliative care, for both children and adults. The article below will discuss the provision of palliative care for children.
What Is Palliative Care?
Before discussing providing palliative care for children, it is important to know what palliative care is. This type of healthcare is one focusing on support for children and young people experiencing life-threatening conditions, as well as their families. In addition to offering any treatment, the nurses involved in palliative care concentrate on comfort and quality of life for their patients.
Who Receives Palliative Care?
Palliative care is typically provided to children experiencing medical problems that are categorized in the following four groups:
1. Life-Threatening Conditions
When a child or young person is experiencing a life-threatening condition, such as cancer, the treatment may be curative but it can also fail. Palliative care in this group may be required during the periods when prognosis is uncertain and treatment of the condition fails.
2. Intensive Treatment Conditions
Children or young adults in this group experience long periods of intensive treatment that is aimed at prolonging their lifespan, but the uncertainty of death remains. This type of child or young adult can continue to participate in normal activities, but when they are experiencing ‘downtime’ palliative care may be necessary.
3. Progressive Conditions
When a child experiences a progressive condition without any possibility of a cure, they will require palliative care. Palliative care is typically used for many years and the number of years or when palliative care will begin is unique to each case.
4. Non-Progressive Conditions With Weakness
The final group deals with children experiencing conditions that are not always considered progressive but can cause weakness resulting in health complications. This child’s health will often deteriorate unpredictably and palliative care can help the child achieve a comfortable quality of life before death.
What Are The Goals Of Palliative Care?
When providing palliative care for children, there are specific goals and these are listed below:
• helping the child to become comfortable and remain in a good physical condition so they can continue with a ‘normal’ life.
• assisting the family with complicated decisions.
• supporting the caregivers or family.
• supporting the child regarding questions they have about their illness.
• provision of practical help with medication, equipment, and respite care.
As can be seen, palliative care is important for children with deteriorating health. Using the information above, you can determine if palliative care is suitable for your child’s needs.