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Pediatric hospice care: What you need to know

Pediatric hospice care is a unique and specialized service that many other hospice providers are unable to offer. It is important to understand how pediatric hospice care differs from traditional hospice care, and how it benefits both the patient and their loved ones.

Concurrent care: The key difference for pediatric patients

Pediatric patients qualify for hospice the same way adults do – a physician must certify the patient has six months or less to live if the disease/condition takes its natural course. However, while adult patients must choose to forgo curative or life-prolonging treatment to meet eligibility criteria, most pediatric patients under age 21 are eligible for concurrent care. This applies to patients covered by Medicaid, as well as some private insurance companies.

Concurrent care: Continuing to seek curative or life-prolonging treatments while utilizing hospice services simultaneously.

Benefits of pediatric hospice care

Concurrent care is extremely beneficial for the patient, their parents, siblings and the other significant people in the child’s life.

  • Holistic approach: While medical treatment focuses on the patient’s physical needs, hospice care addresses the psychosocial, practical and spiritual needs of the child and their loved ones. This greatly improves quality of life and well-being for the entire family.
  • Care coordination: Diseases in children can be very unpredictable, often requiring frequent adjustment of care plans, communication with the family and coordination with other care providers. Hospice of the Northwest coordinates this care, relieving stress for the family and ensuring the best possible care for the child.
  • Bereavement services: Families are offered bereavement services much earlier in the process, usually upon admission. This helps the entire family, including the child’s siblings, cope with loss and anticipatory grief.
  • Integrative services: Pediatric patients may also take advantage of Integrative Services like massage therapy, pet visits, arts and crafts, and more. All of these services are offered free of charge thanks to generous donors who support the Hospice of the Northwest Foundation.

Finding hope in pediatric hospice care

Because pediatric patients are able to continue life-prolonging treatment, they are often on hospice care longer than many adult patients. So long as the child medically qualifies for hospice care, they can continue to benefit from the extra layers of support it provides for as long as needed.

This allows the child and their family to focus on what is most important to them — and to find hope during the most difficult time in their lives. The definition of hope may change as the child receives curative and palliative care, but at Hospice of the Northwest, we are here to walk with families on that journey wherever it takes them.