Palliative care for children and young people aims to provide them with the best quality of life possible from the time they are diagnosed with a palliative care need until the point where specialist palliative services are no longer required or until end of life. Palliative care provides not just physical care such as pain relief and symptom management but also emotional, social and spiritual support.

Palliative care for children and young people is provided within a number of settings, both in hospital and the community. Some children and young people will receive palliative care on a neonatal, children’s ward or clinic. Others will receive care in their own homes from the Trust’s Children’s Nursing Service.

For children and young people within the Northern Trust requiring specialist palliative care, the Northern Ireland Hospice has a children’s service which provides support for them and their families.

Other children and young people requiring specialist palliative care may be treated within the Belfast Trust at The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. If this is the case, the primary care staff (GP and district nurse) and healthcare staff within the Northern Trust, will liaise closely with staff in Belfast to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to care, which means many people looking after you.

Who needs palliative care?

Children suffering from life-limiting conditions including:

  • diseases where premature death is inevitable, where there may be long periods of intensive treatment aimed at prolonging life, for example: cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy;
  • progressive conditions without curative treatment options, where treatment is exclusively palliative from diagnosis and may commonly extend over many years, for example: spinal muscular atrophy;
  • conditions causing severe disability leading to health complications and likelihood of premature death, for example: severe cerebral palsy.
  • children suffering from life-threatening conditions
  • conditions for which curative treatment is possible but may fail, for example: cancer, babies born prematurely, meningococcal septicemia.

 Children’s/Paediatric Nursing Service

Children’s nursing services are provided at Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital in Coleraine and Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt.

The Trust also has a community children’s nursing service with three teams providing care to children who are acutely or chronically ill, have complex health needs and/or require palliative and end of life care.



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