Frequently asked questions about palliative care

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is medical care that focuses on treating the pain, symptoms and stress of illness and treatment. Despite what many believe, it is not just about caring for dying children. At Children’s Hospital, many of our patients have serious or life-threatening illnesses. Palliative Care treats the entire child, including addressing emotional, physical and spiritual needs and treatment goals. We also consider the needs of our patients’ families.

When can palliative care begin?

At Children’s Hospital, we provide palliative care along with any other treatment children receive, so they can remain comfortable at any stage of illness. Our team stays with families every step of the way to ensure the child is getting the care he or she deserves.

When children receive palliative care, do doctors stop other treatment?

Not in most cases. Palliative care works in collaboration with all medical treatment. It is our goal to make the medical treatment process easier to handle. However, if your child has a birth defect or condition that will lead to death, you may decide not to pursue medical treatment other than palliative care. 

Is palliative care right for my child?

If your child has a complex or life-threatening illness, palliative care may help. Our palliative care team will work to treat your child’s symptoms and to help him or her tolerate side effects of treatment. Palliative care may be good for your child if he or she needs help:

  • Managing pain or physical symptoms
  • Understanding his or her condition and learning to cope with the day-to-day realities of symptoms or treatment
  • Connecting with specialists to build the best care team possible