Hospices, Health Systems Expand Pediatric Palliative Care, Hit Staffing Barriers

Posted Monday, June 13, 2022

A contingent of health care providers across the country are making new investments in pediatric palliative care, but building these programs is no easy feat. Many hit obstacles such as a dwindling workforce, limited access to training and a generally poor understanding of children’s specific needs.

Though a rising number of hospices and other providers have taken steps to better scale pediatric services, most seriously ill children lack sufficient access to palliative care.

Much of the care pediatric patients do receive is done by primary care or subspecialty providers rather than palliative specialists, according to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Many of these children experience frequent hospitalizations, and very few receive services in a timely manner, or in the home setting, AAP indicated.

“For providers out there interested in doing this, if you understand the importance of comprehensive end-of-life care for young children, [then] think about the education and support that you might need and really consider that is so important,” Dado told Hospice News during the Palliative Care Conference in Chicago. “You have to be invested and willing to identify your current staff that want to care for children and just need that training or maybe hiring new staff.

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