Pediatric Palliative Care
What is pediatric palliative care?
There are approximately 500,000 children in the U.S. currently living with chronic and potentially life-limiting illnesses. Pediatric palliative care is the comprehensive care of children and neonates with life-limiting, complex, chronic conditions. The goal of pediatric palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering, and to support the best possible quality of life for children and their families, regardless of their stage of disease or the need for other therapies, heeding their values and preferences.
Management of pain and other symptoms as well as the provision of psychological, social and spiritual support is of greatest importance. Palliative care widens traditional disease-model medical treatments to include the goals of enhancing quality of life for the child and family, optimizing function, helping with decision-making and providing opportunities for personal growth. As such, it can be delivered concurrently with life-prolonging care or as the main focus of care.
How is palliative care different from hospice care?
Hospice prepares patients for death, usually no longer than six months in advance. However, palliative care may be provided at any time during a patient’s illness, ideally starting from the time of diagnosis and at the same time as curative treatments. Palliative care is appropriate for any stage of an illness and is not limited to end-of-life care.
Pediatric palliative care at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Midlands
Pediatric Palliative Care at Prisma Health is an inpatient consultation service known as COMPASS which stands for Comprehensive Pediatric and Adolescent Support Service. This specially trained care team will help the family navigate the health care system while assisting the core medical team in the care of the child. Since the implementation of COMPASS, the proven impact has been helping the patient go home faster, achieving reduction in readmission rates and preserving hospital financial resources by educating parents on what to expect and helping them through the decision process of their child’s care. The program also includes a perinatal component to help care for families devastated with the news that their unborn baby may suffer from a life-limiting illness.