Roadmap for paediatric palliative care launched by Minister Kearney
Serious illness, death, and dying at any age is difficult territory for our society. Children and young people at the end of life stirs much deeper feelings and thoughts.
Rather than shy away from those natural responses, Australia’s first ‘Paediatric Palliative Care National Action Plan’ boldly seeks to raise awareness of the issues and drive better access to palliative care for these special people in all our lives.
Launched by Assistant Minister for Health and Age Care, Ged Kearney today (24 July, 2023) at Very Special Kids, Melbourne, the Action Plan is a roadmap that guides the way children and young people with life limiting conditions and their loved ones are supported.
“At the heart of the Action Plan is a real commitment to seeing the child or young person as the individual they are and encouraging the active total care of body, mind and spirit, as well as supporting loved ones,” says Camilla Rowland, Chief Executive Officer, Palliative Care Australia.
Recent data tells us there are currently around 30,000 people aged between 0 and 21 years, living with a life limiting illness in Australia who would benefit from palliative care.
“When you add family and friends to the picture, the ripple effect of paediatric palliative care extends to many more thousands of people,” Ms Rowland says.
Launching the Action Plan at Very Special Kids, Victoria’s only children’s hospice, adds weight to the occasion.
“Very Special Kids opened Australia’s first children’s hospice more than 25 years ago. At the time, there was little consensus on how best to provide clinical, emotional, and practical support to children and young people with life limiting conditions, and their families,” said Michael Wasley, Chief Executive Officer, Very Special Kids.
Click play to watch the live stream of the launch and the panel discussion that followed:
Click HERE to download the Action Plan.
A snapshot of paediatric palliative care in Australia:
- 28,976 children and young people (0-21 years) were estimated to be living with life-limiting conditions in Australia in 2021. Note: The actual number remains unknown due to a lack of readily available national data.
- Children under the age of 1 year are the biggest cohort of patients (around 300 children per 10,000 people), followed by 4-6yrs, 1-3yrs, 19-21yrs, 16-18yrs, 13-15yrs, 10-12yrs, and 7-9yrs (all between 25 and 40 children or young people per 10,000 people). Bowers A et al. (2020)
- 38% of life-limiting conditions in children and young people are cancer related. Bowers A et al. (2020)
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have higher prevalence of paediatric life-limiting conditions. Bowers A et al. (2020)
- The proportion of children with a life-limiting condition who have complex needs is estimated to be around 38%. Palliative Care Australia (2018)
- Unlike adult patients, paediatric palliative care is generally delivered over a longer time frame – on average, it’s about 40% longer than for adults. Connor SR et al. (2017)