Palliative Care: Conversations Matter - Easing Symptoms and Enhancing Lives

Palliative care provides comfort to your child and family.Mother walks with child patient in the hospital

Dealing with the diagnosis of a serious illness in a child is difficult for the entire family. It is important that your child, your family, and you get the support and care you need during this hard time. A special type of care called palliative (pal-lee-uh-tiv) care can help. Palliative care is a key part of care for children living with a serious illness. It is also an important source of support for their families.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is comprehensive treatment of the discomfort, symptoms and stress of serious illness. Palliative care can help with all parts of your child’s illness and give support to your family. It can:

  • Give your child relief from pain and other symptoms of illness.
  • Provide emotional, social, and spiritual support to your child, your family, and you.
  • Help ensure all of your child’s health care providers work together.
  • Help start open discussions on care choices for your child, such as help planning for the future.

Palliative care provides comfort during many illnesses in children, including genetic disorders, cancer, prematurity, neurologic disorders, heart and lung conditions and others. Palliative care is important for children at any age or stage of illness. It can help prevent symptoms and give relief from much more than physical pain. It can also enhance your child’s quality of life.

Palliative care is support for you and your family. Diagnosis of a serious illness in a sister, brother, or child can take an emotional toll. Palliative care gives extra support for your whole family. It can help all of your children, your spouse, and you cope.

Palliative care is a partnership with you, your child, your family and your health care team. This team helps you know what care choices your child and family have. They will work with you and your child to make a care plan just for you. They will help your child move smoothly from the hospital to outpatient care, or getting care at home.

Parent speaks to health care providerAsk about Palliative Care

If you think palliative care could help your child, your family or you, ask for it now. Tell your child’s health care provider that you would like to add palliative care to your child’s treatment plan. Ask the health care provider to give your child a referral for palliative care services.

If you want to find a hospital in your area that offers a palliative care program, you can go to the Palliative Care Provider Directory of Hospitals to search by state and city.


Pediatric Palliative Care: A Personal Story Video ScreenshotPediatric Palliative Care: A Personal Story

This vignette shares the story of Rachel—a pediatric neuroblastoma patient—and her family. The story demonstrates how palliative care can positively influence a patient’s and family’s experience with illness. Video length: 3 min, 58 sec.

Additional Palliative Care Resources

For a list of common questions about pediatric palliative, please visit our "Palliative Care: Conversations Matter®" Frequently Asked Questions page.

For general information about palliative care, download NINR’s brochure, Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness. This brochure is available in both English and Spanish.
Posted Date: January 6, 2014