AIHW Report: Specialist Paediatric Palliative Care

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report exploring the specialist paediatric palliative care delivered to children with life-limiting illnesses in 2021. The report aims to increase the evidence-base for the needs of specialist palliative care for children with a life-limiting illness.

Specialist paediatric palliative care aims to ease the symptoms of life-limiting illnesses for children and improve the quality of life of both patients and their families. The practice can differ from adult palliative care due to the unique considerations associated with supporting a child with a life-limiting illness, but can be delivered by a range of healthcare providers at any stage of the illness.

Some of the key findings from the report include:

  • An estimated 46% of all children who died with a life-limiting condition received specialist paediatric palliative care in 2021
  • Children lived an average of 150km away from specialist palliative care
  • 7 in 8 children died in the family’s end-of-life location goal
  • 1 in 3 children were engaged with the palliative care team for less than 1 month
  • One in 3 families accessed respite services; 70% had a child who died
    aged 5 or over

Despite the benefits paedeatric palliative care can provide, data on the practice in Australia is currently limited. Data on child demographics and clinical indicators collected from eight children’s hospitals providing specialist paediatric palliative care services has been collated and analysed for the first time in this report. This highlights the need for greater research into specialist paediatric palliative care, to improve the access and quality of these services for children with life-limiting illnesses.

To read the full report, click here.