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Caring for adults
Caring for adults

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2.1 Palliative care for children

There are particular issues if children are at the centre of a palliative care approach. The child might have a life-limiting condition for which there is no reasonable hope of cure and from which they will die. Alternatively, the child might have a life-threatening condition for which treatment in an attempt to cure may be feasible but can fail, such as when operating on a tumour.

Caring for any child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, and who is expected to die, will affect the whole family, from his or her parents, brothers and sisters, to the wider family members. Parents might find it hard to accept that their child is going to die and young brothers or sisters might not understand the enormity of what is happening.

In addition to the overwhelming emotional needs, many parents need help with practical support, which they might not have had time to consider. Special equipment may be needed in the house or a school located that can cope with the child’s particular needs. The emphasis should be on discovering what the child can do, and not on what he or she is unable to do.

As with adults, palliative care for a child also encompasses end-of-life care. In the next part you will study end-of-life care as a part of a palliative care approach.