Pediatric Hospice Basics
Pediatric Hospice Basics
David Kessler (Director of Palliative Care, Citrus Valley Health Partners and Hospice) gives expert video advice on: Who is eligible for pediatric hospice?; How do I find a qualified pediatric hospice?; What treatments does pediatric hospice offer to children? and more...
Does hospice provide care for terminally ill children?
Hospice does provide pediatric care for children who are terminal. It's certainly one of the hardest things that we deal with, but we understand it's really a parent's worst nightmare, and it's one of the toughest times in the world. We want to make sure that we're there for those parents and child to make sure that the child has a normal life as possible for as long as they can. So, we're there to help them, but not disrupt life as it is until it's really needed. We're there to make sure the care is given in the home of the terminally ill child where it's personal and where the child has their familiar surroundings. That way the child can have their friends over, their pets with them, and really make it a special time of closeness with the family.
Who is eligible for pediatric hospice?
Any child is eligible for pediatric hospice if they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. It's important to stress that while people go on hospice, many times they go off. So just know that it's not a one-way street: that if a child goes on hospice for a while, children have a way of sometimes rebounding. We take kids off hospice many times while they're doing better for a while. So hospice will really customise the pediatric care.
Who will be on my child's hospice team?
On a child's hospice team will be a nurse, a social worker and a chaplain. There will also be volunteers and certainly the medical director. Pediatric physicians many times who have been following your child's case may choose to continue being part of the child's hospice team. So, they will all be there to assist your family and your child, meeting your needs at this time of life.
What treatments does pediatric hospice offer to children?
Pediatric hospice will provide all the symptom management your child needs to make sure they are as pain-free as possible and have as few symptoms as possible. We very much want this very hard time that your family and your child are going through to be one where you don't have to deal with any symptoms that we could manage, thereby improving the quality of your child's life. We understand the importance and how precious this time is, so we want to make sure that your child doesn't have to deal with one more physical symptom than they need to.
Will hospice support terminally ill children and their families?
Our social workers are very good at meeting the emotional needs that parents and children go through at this time of life. As hard as we understand this time of life is for you and your child, that social worker is willing to have the hard conversations with you. They're willing to have any conversation your child wants to have. There are certainly nurses available who are going to not just meet the physical needs of your child, but also really be there emotionally for your terminally ill child. One of the things that I love about pediatric hospice is we understand the importance of your role as the parent. We're never going to overstep our bounds. We're never going to tell your child more than you want your child to know. We understand this is your family. You have a way of doing things and we want to honor that.