When people imagine a hospice, they generally conjure
images of elderly patients suffering from terminal diseases. However, the elderly are not the only people
who are at risk for terminal illnesses, and therefore, are not the only
patients who can be found at hospices. Thousands of children throughout the
United States suffer from terminal illnesses.
In order to address the care and
comfort of these children, children’s hospices have been established. Children’s
hospices specifically cater to the needs of children that are facing death in
the coming months. They also offer respite care and grief counseling in order
to assist families. The children found in children’s hospices are suffering
from incurable diseases, such as cystic fibrosis or cancer, including leukemia,
brain cancer, and osteosarcoma.
These patients have not responded to
treatments, and further attempts at treatment would only increase pain and
prolong suffering, not cure the illness. Once a child is diagnosed with a
terminal illness, it is common for families to consider children’s hospices,
where the patients will have access to continuous medical attention and
beneficial hospice programs.
When a child is diagnosed with a terminal illness it is often devastating for a
family. The family may attempt to provide care for the child at home. However,
this can require constant attention and care twenty-four hours a day, seven
days a week. This is physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting for a
family. The responsibility of caring for a sick child may cause extensive
stress and anxiety, creating yet new tensions within the family.
In order to
decrease the discord present in the child’s environment, a family may decide to
consider hospice programs. Like at a hospice facilities for adults, the responsibility of addressing
the care and comfort of patients in children’s hospices will fall to medical
professionals. Doctors and nurses will administer medication to reduce pain,
constantly monitor a child’s condition, and ensure that a patient remains
At a hospice, a child will have access to emotionally beneficial hospice
programs, such as play therapy, music therapy, and art therapy. There are also hospice
programs that arrange activities between siblings so that they are able to
spend quality time together.
Hospice programs provide terminally ill children with beneficial services,
especially children too young to understand the concepts of life and death.
They may question what they did wrong to deserve their fate. Placing them in a
hospice will allow them to communicate with other children who are experiencing
This may help to negate the sense of isolation and
seclusion that is often faced by terminally ill children. Because hospice
doctors and nurses assume the responsibility of caring for patients, families
will have the opportunity to spend quality time with a child without having to
maintain the role of caregivers. This will provide them with the opportunity to
simply enjoy the time that they have left with their child.