Palliative care, it’s more than you think

It’s not unusual when talking about palliative care to be met with a sad or sympathetic reaction. Most often, this is because people associate palliative care with end-of-life. In reality though, this is only one part of it – it is about so much more, and once you know about everything else it has to offer, the reaction you’ll likely feel won’t be sadness, it will be joy.

Yes, in paediatrics, palliative care is a service for children with life-limiting illnesses, but it’s not just about providing comfort and care at the end stages of life, it’s also about creating special moments and memories throughout a child’s journey that their families can treasure forever.

Take a look at some of those precious moments which have been captured across our two hospitals and Bear Cottage.

Across the Network, more than 500 families rely on the support of our palliative care teams each year and, as is highlighted by the National Palliative Care Week theme, this care involves more than you think. It involves respite care, symptom management, emotional support and end-of-life care as well as bereavement support as families navigate life after their child passes away.

The strategies used during this time are designed to individualise care, to maximise each child’s quality of life, to give them an opportunity to make the most of their abilities and to recognise and really acknowledge the vital role the entire family plays in this process, including the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of all involved.

"There is so much more to palliative care than you think and there is really no limit to how big of a difference it can make," Jude Frost, Palliative Care CNC, said.

Through paediatric palliative care, we are able to help children to participate in family activities or play with friends at school, we are able to provide a listening ear to families and can support siblings to help them understand why their brother or sister is sick and might need more of mum and dad's attention."

"It about making sure families can enjoy the little moments in life and ensuring their journey is filled with as much fun and happiness as possible."

National Palliative Care Week is an important time to share the stories of our palliative care teams and showcase the difference they make to children with life-limiting illness and their families. Find out more about the Network’s Palliative Care Service and how you can help.

National Palliative Care Week runs from 24 May – 30 May.