Pediatric Palliative Care: Nursing Needs and Role

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Pediatric Palliative Care: Nursing Needs and Role
In modern society, children are expected to outlive their parents. However, for children living with life-threatening or terminal illnesses, palliative care is an approach to care that enhances quality of life for both the child and the grieving parents. Pediatric palliative care is an area of patient care that can be one of the most emotionally challenging areas of practice. The nurse’s role in caring and supporting children and their families require special coping skills which are essential to providing the most positive outcome for all that are involved in the palliative process. The aim of pediatric palliative care is to keep the child comfortable while supporting the parents in caring for their child according to their wishes and beliefs. From diagnosis, parents are already grieving the loss of their child. Grieving not only affects the family but has a huge emotional impact on health care providers as well. According to Morgan (2009), “professionals who witness the pain and suffering of children and their families may also experience pain and suffering themselves” and that “health care workers may experience emotions such as helplessness, anger, sadness, and anxiety while providing care to dying children” (p. 86). For that reason, it is important that nurses be sufficiently trained and competent to deal with ethical issues surrounding end of life care. One way to address the lack of skills and meet the needs of the nursing staff so that the patient and family can receive the care they deserve is to decrease stress and pressure and increase knowledge and development in the clinical setting. This includes the involvement of the advanced practical nurse (APN) to assist nurses and establish protocols necessary for success and staff development. In order to achieve optimal patient and nursing practice, the needs of the dying child and his/her family must also be met. Providing the highest level of...
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