Pediatric palliative care provides a holistic approach to the care of patients affected by a serious condition and their families. This supportive care promotes the comfort and dignity of patients, and addresses the physical, emotional, social, psychological, spiritual, grief and loss needs of the patient and family members. Care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals and community resources.
Palliative care seeks to prevent or relieve physical and emotional distress that may occur when dealing with a significant illness or condition, with the goal of improving quality of life while still seeking curative treatments. Palliative care can be provided at any point in the child’s illness or condition.
Hospice care focuses on quality of life through the prevention or relief of physical and emotional distress for patients with a life expectancy of 6 months or less (if the disease runs its natural course), and have forgone curative treatment.
Any pediatric patient who is living with a serious or chronic health condition, from the point of conception (prenatal) through early adulthood (age 21), and family members, can benefit from palliative care.
The goal of palliative care is to enhance quality of life for both the patient and their family by providing an extra layer of supportive care, including medical, nursing, psychosocial, chaplaincy and child life expertise. This holistic approach relieves symptoms related to the chronic condition, including physical, psychological and spiritual distress.
Children have been part of the patient mix served by Community Hospice since it began as a hospice provider in 1979. In 2000, Community Hospice launched Community PedsCare as a specialized, community-based service to meet the unique needs of children and their families. Community PedsCare is a private-academic-community sector partnership in collaboration with Wolfson Children's Hospital, Nemours Children's Clinic and the University of Florida-Jacksonville.
The Community PedsCare team is a dedicated pediatric care team comprised of pediatricians, nurses, social workers, chaplain, child life specialist and trained volunteers. Two physicians are board certified in hospice and palliative medicine.
During 2010, Community PedsCare has provided supportive care to almost 200 children and their families. Since its inception in 2000, Community PedsCare has cared for more than 1,000 children and their families.
The Community PedsCare team provides an overlay of care to children and their families, in addition to the health care services that they may already be receiving.
Supportive, holistic care includes emotional, spiritual, psychosocial, grief and loss support, as well as education on the child’s medications, treatments and condition. Each team member is available to patients and their families based on the needs the child and family have identified related to the child’s serious medical condition. Support is provided wherever the child is – in the family home, school and hospital anywhere within the five-county Northeast Florida area.
The Community PedsCare program is a voluntary program that each family chooses based on a referral from the child’s primary physician. Community PedsCare physicians are recognized for their expertise in pain and symptom management, and work closely with your child’s other physicians to ensure goals of care are met to the highest standard.
The program is available to all children under age 21 with serious and complex chronic, and life-threatening conditions due to illness, disease or injury and who reside within the five counties of Northeast Florida (Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns County). Children may be referred by healthcare and other child-serving professionals and organizations, clergy, family members and legal guardians. All referrals must be approved in consultation with the child’s primary care physician, agreed to by the parent, legal guardian or adolescent patient of decision-making age and capacity and reviewed by a Community PedsCare physician for acceptance to the program.
Thanks to the financial support of Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, as well as generous donations from the community, there is no charge for the Community PedsCare supportive, palliative care services. Hospice services are usually covered through private insurance or Medicaid.