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Paediatric Palliative Care – Not just about the children.
13 March 2014

A happy family is but an earlier heaven, said George Bernard Shaw. A child’s well-being is tied so tightly with his or her family that it’s vital for paediatric palliative care to extend its reach to a child’s parents and siblings.

While cancer patients form the majority of HCA’s adult patients (84% last year), childhood cancer affects a much smaller proportion of children. Most of our Star PALS children are instead affected by a wide range of disorders ranging from cerebral palsy to rare genetic disorders – many of them, from birth. As such, they may be non-verbal or non-mobile, and are often completely dependent on their family.

Like every other aspect of a child’s upbringing, care needs to be holistic. There’s no point in pouring time and attention into a child’s health if their comfort is compromised by the strain in a family suffering around him or her. That’s why paediatric palliative care actively extends support to these children’s loved ones, taking a multidisciplinary approach including medical care, therapy, counselling, and financial assistance where necessary.

Facilitating Quality Family TIme

The ill children’s siblings should never be side-lined – not only do they have to cope with seeing their brother or sister suffer, some might also need to help out with some caregiving. They’ll also inevitably get less attention from their parents. This is a difficult situation for not only siblings, but also parents, who constantly juggle the needs of all their children.

To help out, Star PALS organises family events like the recent Family Day Campat Sentosa on the 24th and 25th of October, an overnight camp that gave families a chance to enjoy a worry-free day together, away from home. Families enjoyed activities like the luge and the amazing SEA Aquarium together, while our nurses and Medi Minders were on standby to take care of the children.

Our recent Star PALS Family Day saw the families having a blast at our overnight camp at Sentosa.

Providing Respite Care

Respite care has been proven to have a huge impact on a caregiver’s well-being – studies have shown significant drops in caregivers’ levels of stress and depression after respite care was provided. Our team of trained respite care volunteers, the Medi Minders, help to take care of children for blocks of time so parents can take time off to run errands, relax and recharge, or spend some time with their other children.

Extending Bereavement Support

The loss of a child is especially difficult to handle, and it’s important for any palliative care service to extend support at this trying time. Besides the support our nurses and social workers continue to give even after the child has passed on, Star PALS organises events like theMemorial Night on the 31st of August. This was a chance for parents to come together to celebrate and remember the lives of the children who passed on as a family.

We care for caregivers too.Memorial Night was a poignant affair celebrating the lives of our Star PALS children who’d moved on.

Find out more about our paediatric palliative care services on www.starpals.sg. Feel free to contact us at communications@hcahospicecare.org.sg should you have any queries.

Star PALS is a service by HCA Hospice Care.