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Supporting children living with life-limiting illnesses

Caring for children with life-limiting illnesses is rare, but community nurses must be prepared, writes Karen Brombley.

The number of children living with life-limiting illnesses (LLIs) is relatively small, and the causes of these conditions are diverse. It is rare for community nurses to care for a dying child, making such support complex on many levels. There has been criticism of community services over a perceived lack of knowledge and confidence in caring for this group of children, leading to parental concerns over whether services can meet the needs of their children.1,2An understanding of the support children and their families may need will enhance the care community nurses can give.

Paediatric palliative care (PPC) has been described as 'an active and total approach to the care of children and young people with LLIs, embracing physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements through to death and beyond'.3 This had been described more as a statement of the philosophy of PPC than a definition, asserting that palliative care for children is more a process, rather than simply the cessation of treatment.4

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