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The impact on families of respite care in a children’s hospice program

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Davies, B.; Steele, R.; Collins, J. B.; Cook, K.; Smith, S.

With increasing trends towards home care of children with even the most complex conditions and care requirements, respite becomes critical in improving the quality of life for terminally ill children and their families. This article reports on the respite component of an evaluation project that examined the effect of the Canuck Place children’s hospice program on the families it served during its first 30 months of operation. Canuck Place, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is the first free-standing children’s hospice in North America. Findings are derived from mail-out surveys to 144 families, face-to-face interviews with 18 families, and separate questionnaires specifically directed to parents who had used Canuck Place respite services. Sixty-five parents responded to the respite questions. They cited a wide range of benefits to the ill child, the child’s siblings, and to the parents themselves; they also offered a few cautions. Our discussion focuses on three "lessons learned" from this unique investigation of respite within pediatric hospice care.

Research abstracts