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Palliative Care in Pediatrics


Palliative care is specialized healthcare for a child who has a chronic or life-threatening condition. The primary goal of palliative care is to relieve the pain, suffering, and stress that your child, or you and your family may be feeling. Other goals are to improve your child's quality of life in physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual ways. Palliative care also includes support for family members or others who are caring for the child. A group of trained caregivers work together to provide palliative care. These caregivers include doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains (spiritual counselors), therapists, and volunteers. Palliative care may take place in a hospital, health care center, or your home. It may last until your child's condition improves or until the end of his life.


Follow up with your child's palliative care providers as directed:

The following palliative care services may be recommended for your child, family members, friends, or caregivers:

  • Physical care is given to help ease your child's symptoms, such as pain. This may be done using medicines or certain therapies.
  • Emotional and psychological support is provided to help your child, family members, and others close to him cope with their feelings and emotions. Your child and other family members may join support groups or meet others in similar situations.
  • Respite care provides family and caregivers a break from providing care.
  • Social support helps your family manage changes affecting everyday life. Healthcare workers will arrange services to address things like meals and financial concerns.
  • Spiritual or cultural support considers your child's and family's religious beliefs and cultural practices. These may include doing a special ceremony or ritual, or following certain traditions.

Support your child:

  • Keep your child company. Always be willing to listen to your child. Do things together such as watching television and reading books, or just stay with him.
  • Learn more about your child's condition. Work with caregivers to help your child understand his condition and be involved in his own treatment and care plan.
  • Respect your child's feelings and other emotions. Work together with people whom your child can trust to help him cope with his feelings. Let him express fears and concerns.

Contact your child's palliative care provider if:

  • Your child cannot or does not want to eat, drink, or take his medicines.
  • Your child cannot make it to his next visit.
  • Your child has new signs and symptoms since his last visit.
  • You or your child have questions or concerns about his condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child feels like hurting himself or someone else.
  • Your child feels pain that is not relieved by pain medicines.
  • Your child feels that he cannot cope with his condition.
  • Your child has problems sleeping.
  • Your child has shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

Learn more about Palliative Care in Pediatrics (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.