Palliative Care For Children in NZ - An Introduction

Palliative Care For Children in NZ - An Introduction

Palliative care is the care provided to children with serious illnesses, and their families/whānau. It focuses on comfort and quality of life and support for your child and family/whānau.


Key points about palliative care for children in NZ

This page is part of a whole section on palliative care.

  • palliative care means relieving or soothing
  • palliative care can be available to children with a chronic illness, or to children with a serious illness who recover, as well as to children who are dying
  •  palliative care and curative care is available for children and young people with all kinds of illnesses
  • palliative care provides hope and aims for the best quality of life for children and family/whanau during stressful times

What is palliative care?

Palliative care for children and young people focuses on comfort and quality of life for the child and support for the whole family/whānau.

The aim of palliative care is to provide hope and achieve the best quality of life for your child and family/whānau during stressful times.

Palliative care can be provided to children with serious illness, of all ages, from premature babies to older teens. Palliative care can also be provided to families before their baby is born when the baby has been diagnosed with a serious illness.

What is the goal of palliative care?

The goal of those working with you, your child and whānau is to:

  • help your child to be comfortable and in the best possible condition so that they can go about doing things that are important to them, and that they enjoy (such as going to school or kindergarten)
  • help your family/whānau with difficult decisions
  • support you as the parents or caregivers
  • help you to support your child around any worries or questions they might have
  • help you to support the brothers and sisters of your sick child
  • provide practical help with equipment, medicine and respite care
  • help your whānau to access support in bereavement

Does palliative care mean giving up?

No. Sometimes it is difficult to know what the outcome of a serious illness might be. Children and parents may find themselves in the difficult position of having to decide whether or not to pursue treatments that offer a small chance of a cure. It is possible to go ahead with such treatments and still receive palliative care. In this way, whānau can 'hope for the best but prepare for everything else'.


The content on this page has been developed and approved by the New Zealand Paediatric Palliative Care Clinical Network, Paediatric Society of New Zealand.

This page last reviewed 22 May 2020.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it