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children hospice

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Hospice is specialized medical care for those with a life-threatening illness, typically reserved for patients expected to live a year or less who have lessened or stopped curative treatments. Of course, the prognosis isn’t always accurate and can be even harder to predict in children as they generally have healthier organ systems, and some may get better, even “graduating” from hospice as their health improves and it’s no longer required.

Unfortunately, hospice care for children is underutilized – of the approximately 44,000 pediatric deaths a year, according to a 2014 study, “Who are the children using hospice care?” fewer than 10% of children utilize it for end of life care. Children’s hospice is a bit different than it is for older adults. While relieving pain and managing symptoms is the focus, helping to improve quality of life, children may also receive curative treatments and receive care from various providers too.

The Hospice Care Team

A board-certified physician with training in pediatrics is part of the hospice care team. The doctor may have another area of specialty, too, such as oncology or neonatology. He or she typically works in coordination with the child’s other physicians and healthcare providers and will provide insight into managing symptoms like pain, nausea. or difficulty breathing. The doctor’s role is to also guide the team in understanding the medical aspects of the child’s condition.

Other team members usually include a nurse who helps to manage pain and other symptoms along with home health aides who are trained in hospice care and can assist with daily care needs.

A social worker is likely to be on hand to help the child and family members cope with emotional and other issues related to their condition, while a grief counselor can provide education for members of the family on loss and grief. There may be others such as art and music therapists, rehab therapists, nutritionists, and psychologists helping too. The team as a whole helps both the child and family caregivers cope with the challenges of the illness and focus on emotional support.

Helping to Determine the Level of Pain and Where It’s Coming From

Children, especially young children, often have difficulty explaining their pain, including how much it hurts and where it is. A hospice doctor and other team members use techniques specific to children, such as body language and special charts to determine how bad the pain is and to identify where it’s coming from.

Providing the Appropriate Pain Relief

It’s more difficult to provide medicine that will treat pain and other symptoms in children as their bodies are smaller, and they process it differently. Many can’t swallow pills. A hospice doctor understands which medicine to prescribe in the right doses while recommending ways the child can take it, such as pills that dissolve on the tongue, liquids, or special patches.

Helping Children Understand Their Illness and Medical Care

Depending on the child’s age, many don’t understand their illness or why they need tests and medicines. The doctor and other hospice team members can help the child understand what they’re going through in an age-appropriate way. They can also recommend ways for the child to express his or her feelings, such as through art, music, or play.

Kate Middleton has visited a children’s hospice on the latest leg of the royal tour of New Zealand.

The Duchess of Cambridge was met by more than 40 children and their families at Rainbow Place in Hamilton, the AFP reported.

“There should be more places like this,” AFP quoted Kate Middleton as saying of the facility, which provides support for dying and bereaved children.

It was Kate Middleton’s first solo engagement on the 19-day tour which will also take in Australia.

She met youngsters and parents and had a briefing with the hospice’s chief executive before going to a Mad Hatter’s theme tea party in the gardens.

Prince William, meanwhile, was shown around Pacific Aerospace, an aviation firm in Hamilton.

Kate Middleton was met by more than 40 children and their families at Rainbow Place in Hamilton

Kate Middleton was met by more than 40 children and their families at Rainbow Place in Hamilton (photo Getty Images)

He was told about the P-750, an innovative light aircraft made at the plant.

“He talked about his friendly brotherly rivalry, with Harry flying Apaches and he’s been flying search and rescue,” the company’s chief executive Damian Camp told reporters.

“He said he still does some flying – all helicopter based – but not as much as he wants to.”

Prince William spent more than seven years in the military and was presented with his RAF wings in 2008.

Damian Camp added: “He said George has settled into a nice routine but was keeping mum and dad on their toes but they’re all enjoying their stay.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton reconvened in the nearby town of Cambridge where thousands of well-wishers lined the streets to greet them.

They opened a new velodrome in the town and met some of New Zealand’s cycling, rowing and canoeing elite.

And they were handed a tiny cycling jersey in the country’s colors for Prince George, who was not with his parents for this leg of the tour.

The tour has seen the royals race yachts, attend a state reception and visit a parent and baby class with Prince George in New Zealand before they head to Australia later this month.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s trip is due to end on April 25 in Canberra.

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