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Palliative Care

Definition of Palliative Care

(Adapted from the World Heath Organization definition of Palliative Care)

Effective palliative care for children

Palliative care for children represents a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care. Palliative care for children is the active total care of the child’s body, mind and spirit, and also involved giving support to the family. It begins when illness is diagnosed, and continues regardless of whether or not a child receives treatment directed at the disease. Health providers must evaluate and alleviate a child’s physical, psychological, and social distress.

Effective palliative care required a broad multidisciplinary approach that includes the family and makes use of available community resources; it can be successfully implemented even if resources are limited. It can be provided in tertiary care facilities, in community health centres and even in children’s homes.

Improving the quality of life of patients and families

Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and families who face life-threating illness, by providing pain and symptom relief, spiritual and psychosocial support from diagnosis to the end of life and bereavement.

Palliative care:

  • Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
  • Intends neither to hasten nor postpone death;
  • Is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications;
  • Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
  • Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement;
  • Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
  • Uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated;
  • Will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness.
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