Palliative care for children

Daffodils on a windowsill

Palliative care is the phase of treatment where cure is no longer possible. Palliative care describes the supportive care and treatment given to ease symptoms and improve quality of life, but with the knowledge that it will not lead to a cure. Palliative care is an approach to care, from diagnosis, through death and beyond ensuring your child’s comfort and dignity are the priority. It can be introduced at any point, it is completely individual. Some children may require palliative care from diagnosis; others only as their condition deteriorates. Palliative care aims to enable a child/family get on with daily life and be as independent for as long as possible in the most satisfying way they can, within the limits of their illness.

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You matter because you’re you, and you matter to the end of your life

Dame Cicely Saunders

Whether or not further treatment is available, it is often a good idea for you to get to know the people who can help you and your child during their last weeks or months.

A team of people from different disciplines and different organisations, some of whom will already be well known to you, will come together to plan your child’s care. The clinical nurse coordinator forms a link between you, the hospital and your community specialist palliative care team. This team may include:

  • Hospital consultant
  • Clinical nurse coordinator
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Palliative care consultant
  • Palliative care nurse specialist
  • Social worker
  • Your GP
  • Public health nurses
  • Community palliative care team

The progression of your child’s disease to this stage may have been expected, or come as a total shock to you. Either way, you are most likely feeling devastated. Good practical support from professionals may help to relieve the stress and help families find ways to manage. We hope that we, along with family, friends and the professionals you are dealing with, will be of some support to you. 

Our supports

Night Nurses support you

The Irish Cancer Society's Night Nursing Service is available so that you and your child will receive nursing care, practical support and reassurance in your own home. We aim to keep your child comfortable and free of pain. Your nurse will work with you to give your child the highest standard of nursing care and ensure their comfort and dignity throughout the night. The night nurse will usually attend from the hours of 11pm – 7am.

All the Night Nurses are registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI), Garda vetted and Employees of the Irish Cancer Society.

How to request a night nurse

1)   First, contact the health professional who is looking after your child- they need to make the request. The health professional that can make these requests are:

  • Member of the community palliative care team
  • Member of the palliative care services in hospital
  • General practitioner
  • Public health nurse

2)   Once your health professional makes the booking, we make contact with a local night nurse, and arrange for the nurse to visit your family.

Unfortunately, we can't take Night Nursing bookings directly from you, but if you have any questions at all, please phone the Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700.

Precious times

This booklet gives you and your family information that will help you during this difficult time. It provides information about commonly occurring symptoms, their causes, available treatments and, most importantly, suggestions for simple things that you can do at home to help your child.

It also includes information on supports and services which are available to your family and how you can contact these services for help and advice when you need it.

You can order a copy from our Support Line 1800 200 700 or download Precious Times.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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