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29 April 2009

Palliative care for children

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The World Health Organisation (WHO; 1998a) states:

  • Palliative care for children is the active total care of the child's body, mind and spirit, and also involves 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 requires 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.

Elizabeth Scrimgeour, Chairperson for the South African portfolio on palliative care in children says the main issues affecting them are:

  • It can be provided in tertiary care facilities, in community health centres and even in children's homes.

  • Food and growth – research shows that children who eat properly before the age of six have much better prospects.

  • Developmental issues – attending school

  • Long-term care
  • Dr Teresa Swart, part-time lecturer in palliative care at Stellenbosch University who is currently completing her masters degree in palliative medicine, says in the case of palliative care for children, the parents are heavily involved in the planning since the patient is a child and can’t really make independent decisions.
    “In the palliative care team, we will include the parents as well as the siblings. We also look at the needs of the siblings, the parents as well as the patient.

    (Thania Gopal, Health24, April 2009)

    Sources:
    www.who.int
    Dr Teresa Swart, Part-time lecturer in palliative care at Stellenbosch University, currently completing her masters degree in palliative medicine
    Elizabeth Scrimgeour, Executive Officer of the Drakenstein Palliative Hospice and Chairperson of the Western Cape Hospice Palliative Care Association.

     
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