Dispelling myths in children’s palliative care

Categories: Community Engagement.

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day to be celebrated on Saturday 12 October along with Voices for Hospice has the theme Achieving Universal Coverage of Palliative Care: Dispelling the myths.

In keeping with the theme for this year’s celebration, ICPCN has developed materials to raise awareness and assist in dispelling the following three common
myths in children’s palliative care:

  1. It is difficult to assess pain levels of babies and young children and unsafe to prescribe opioids for their persistent pain.
  2. Children can be treated as small adults.
  3. Children don’t know they are dying unless we tell them that they are.

The facts are quite different.

  • There are a number of ways in which to assess the pain of a neonate or non-verbal child and opioids are both effective and safe for children when correctly prescribed.
  • Children are not small adults and should not be treated as such. Care for children can be complicated by the fact that children’s understanding of illness, death and dying is not the same as that of adults and change as they grow older. Children communicate in different ways, including through play, and are not always able to verbalise their needs and wishes. They need to be cared for by people with an understanding of the different ways in which they communicate. 
  • While it is instinctive for parents to want to protect their child from difficult truths, practice shows that many children over the age of three have the intuitive knowledge that they are dying and wish to know the truth and be allowed to  express their thoughts about it.

Link to free e-learning courses
ICPCN has linked each of these three myths and their corresponding facts to one of their free e-learning courses available from their site and encourage people to learn more about children’s palliative care by completing one or more of these courses. This can be done by logging on to http://www.icpcn.org/icpcns-new-elearning-programme/

Materials to download
Materials ICPCN has available for download include a brochure, a poster, presently available in 11 languages, and a media release. You are encouraged to use these materials to focus attention on children’s palliative care in your part of the world. You can do this by:

  • Printing and displaying the poster in your place of work
  • Printing the brochures and distributing amongst colleagues and people of influence within your organisations
  • Adapting the press release for your own country and sending to your local media to publish on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Find out more about this day and download the materials here.