Parental experiences with a paediatric palliative care team: A qualitative study

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Abstract

Background:

Parents of children with a life-limiting disease have to rely on themselves at home while adequate paediatric palliative care is lacking. In several countries, paediatric palliative care teams are introduced to ensure continuity and quality of care and to support the child and the family. Yet, little is known about how parents experience such multidisciplinary teams.

Aim:

To obtain insight into the support provided by a new paediatric palliative care team from the parents’ perspective.

Design:

An interpretative qualitative interview study using thematic analysis was performed.

Setting/participants:

A total of 47 single or repeated interviews were undertaken with 42 parents of 24 children supported by a multidisciplinary paediatric palliative care team located at a university children’s hospital. The children suffered from malignant or non-malignant diseases.

Results:

In advance, parents had limited expectations of the paediatric palliative care team. Some had difficulty accepting the need for palliative care for their child. Once parents experienced what the team achieved for their child and family, they valued the team’s involvement. Valuable elements were as follows: (1) process-related aspects such as continuity, coordination of care, and providing one reliable point of contact; (2) practical support; and (3) the team members’ sensitive and reliable attitude. As a point of improvement, parents suggested more concrete clarification upfront of the content of the team’s support.

Conclusion:

Parents feel supported by the paediatric palliative care team. The three elements valued by parents probably form the structure that underlies quality of paediatric palliative care. New teams should cover these three valuable elements.

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