Nurses will sometimes have to care for children who are dying. Palliative care in children is different to adult palliative care because of their age and different family situation.
Many children will have chronic life-limiting illnesses such as neurodegenerative illness or cystic fibrosis. Many of these children do not have cancer.
In countries like Australia and the United Kingdom the rate of childhood deaths is much lower than adults. This means that the need to access paediatric palliative care services is relatively small and, in some geographical locations, infrequent. This infrequent use of services makes a difficult path for the families who need care when even experienced health care providers are novices to paediatric palliative care.
Referral is usually to the specialist paediatric palliative care service, not to adult palliative care services. Children are cared for up to the age of 18, and very often beyond this. Their care will sometimes be shared with hospices and generic palliative care services. Most parents and family members would choose to care for their sick child until the end if provided with support.
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