Sunday, August 3, 2008

Children's Hospice

Many people have misconceptions that hospice is only for older adults; however children at the other end of life's spectrum may also have needs to require hospice care as well. There are some similarities to adult hospice, but many differences also.

Many of the goals and values are the same. The hospice interdisciplinary teams have the interest of the patient at heart and the goal is still pain management. Although, in pediatric hospice, children are allowed to receive other treatments in addition to pain management. This happened as a result of a bill passed in 2006 in California.

When researching pediatric hospice, I saw variations in the amount of months that children need to be eligible for hospice. Some had ranges that included 12 months or less, compared to the six months for adults.

Other differences include the need for staff members who have skills and a large knowledge base with children. The development needs and issues are definitely different than a predominantly elderly population. Depending on the development stages children are going through, they have different views about death.

According to Children's Hospice International, patient issues include that they are not legally competent, leaving decision-making up to their parents. The child also has not achieved a "full and complete life." They also lack the ability to describe their needs and feelings, which can cause complications to symptom relief.

Family may also have difficulty with siblings. Grandparents may also feel helpless with their children and their grandchildren.

Pediatric hospice is definitely an area that needs to be expanded on and more people need to be aware of all populations that hospice can include.

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