Hospice Care for a Child

What is hospice care?

Hospice tries to improve the quality of life of a terminally ill child and their family. It's a type of palliative care. This is care to make a person as comfortable as possible. It's also to prevent and ease suffering. Hospice settings and home-hospice care provide many services to terminally ill children. Care usually involves easing symptoms and providing mental and social support for the child and family. To qualify for hospice care, a child often has less than 6 months to live. The decision to choose hospice care is one to not choose aggressive treatment. Hospice also provides for the spiritual and cultural needs of the child and family. The goal of hospice care is to provide the terminally ill child peace, comfort, and dignity.

Research has shown that hospice care at home helps a family as a whole. While being in the comfort of the home, family can also take a role in the extra care of the patient. Hospice often includes a team of several people available for care. This team includes:

  • Nurses

  • Social workers

  • Chaplains

  • Home care aids

  • Trained volunteers

  • Pharmacists

  • Grief counselors

Settings for hospice care

Most patients have hospice care at home, but it can also take place in other settings. These include:

  • Hospital-based hospice. Most hospitals have a hospice program to give terminally ill patients access to support services and other healthcare providers. Some hospitals even have a special hospice unit.

  • Long-term care hospice. Many long-term care homes have hospice units with specially trained staff for those patients who need medical services not fit for a home setting.

  • Freestanding hospice. This is an independent hospice. It may include an inpatient care facility, plus home care hospice services. The inpatient facilities offer patients hospice services if they need medical services not fit for a home setting.

What services does hospice care provide?

Hospice services are like home healthcare services, but may also include:

  • Spiritual services and religious needs

  • 24-hour care or on-call care

  • Respite care

  • Grief support

Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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