Destigmatising Palliative Care for Children: Dr Alvin Ng

Dr Alvin Ng

Dr Alvin Ng, of the School of Medical and Life Sciences, recently had a written published in the Star. The write-up touches on the stigma surrounding palliative care for children. Here are a few excerpts from the article:

'What is paediatric palliative care (PPC)? It is a multidisciplinary effort to provide a better quality of life for children with life-limiting illnesses and their family members, by providing comfort, reducing suffering and any sense of indignity by using holistic approaches to healthcare.'

'Overall, as a society, we are poorly prepared to face the shortened life of a child – not just parents and siblings, but also health professionals, particularly in assessing the needs for a referral to palliative care and addressing the grief of a diagnosis indicating a high risk of permanent dependency, chronic discomfort and living through the suffering of the child before death.'

'Medical personnel are not typically trained to deal with grief and bereavement. Even mental health professionals do not necessarily have specialised training in end-of-life counselling and support. We also have very few PPC experts and services.'

'We need to instill more awareness about the needs of children experiencing chronic medical conditions that shorten their lives and provide solutions to them. While medical and allied health professional training promotes components of palliative care, the rest of the society can also play multiple roles to contribute and address the non-medical aspects of PPC such as the construction of hospice centres as well as access to resources such as transport, technology and information. I also learnt that there is a stigma surrounding PPC, that it indicates that the family has given up on the child’s treatment. To addresss this, PPC needs to be integrated into current services, such as clinics, inpatient management, home visits and medical policies to reduce family apprehension towards it.'

To read the article in its entirety, you may visit the link below.