Children’s palliative care is often confused with adult’s palliative care. Many people think that only children at the end of their life can benefit from children’s palliative care. This is not the case.


Palliative care for children and young people is an active and total approach to care, from the point of diagnosis, throughout the child’s life, death and beyond. It embraces physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements and focuses on the enhancement of quality of life for the child or young person, and support for the whole family. It includes the management of distressing symptoms, provision of short breaks, care at the end of life and bereavement support.

Palliative care can be introduced at any point throughout a child’s life; it is completely individual. Some children may require palliative care from birth, others only as their condition deteriorates. Families may also vary as to whether they wish to pursue treatments aimed to cure or significantly prolong life. In practice, palliative care should be offered from diagnosis of a life-limiting condition or recognition that curative treatment for a life-threatening condition is not an option; however, each situation is different and care should be tailored to the child.

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