This study was published this month and outlines the need for honest and clear communication from health and social care professionals (HSCPs) to parents surrounding the reality of a parent’s poor prognosis, to enable a systematic approach of preparing the children for the death of their mum or dad. While parents often feel ill-equipped to prepare their children for the death of a parent from cancer and desire supportive guidance from healthcare teams, this is a challenging aspect of care for HSCPs to provide. Consequently, family-centred care is often inadequate in practice.
There is a need for HSCPs to reassure parents that by involving the children early in the end-of-life experience, when the ill-parent is “well enough” to parent, enables them to be actively involved in supporting their child through one, if not the greatest life changing event. This enables the sharing of sadness, providing love and support that only a parent can. Earlier preparations are likely to prevent “crisis management” as death becomes imminent in the final weeks and days of life and promote better adjustment for the children in the future.