February 2014

Caring for a Seriously Ill Child

When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can be difficult for the entire family. It’s important that your child, your family, and you get the support and care you need during this challenging time. A special type of care called palliative care can help.

Palliative care can ease a child’s pain, help manage other symptoms, and provide important emotional support to the child and family. Research has shown that pediatric palliative care services may also improve overall satisfaction with care for patients and their families. Yet many health care providers hesitate to recommend palliative care for young patients, and parents and caregivers are often unaware of its benefits.

“Initiating palliative care conversations is often hard for both providers and families, especially in the pediatric setting,” says Dr. Patricia A. Grady, director of NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research. While it may not be an easy conversation, she says, palliative care can greatly improve a patient’s experience.

NIH’s Palliative Care: Conversations Matter website provides information for health care providers, patients, and their families. The materials, including online videos, emphasize that palliative care works along with other treatments to enhance quality of life for children of any age living with a range of serious illnesses—not only at the end of life.

Visit Palliative Care: Conversations Matter or call 301-496-0207 to learn more.