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Individualised advance care planning in children with life-limiting conditions


Introduction In 2013, the Pediatric Association of the Netherlands launched an evidence-based guideline ‘Palliative care for children’. To promote implementation in daily practice and hereby improve quality of paediatric palliative care, we aimed to develop a functional individualised paediatric palliative care plan (IPPCP) that covers physical, psychological, spiritual and social functioning, with great emphasis on the guideline’s recommendations, advance care planning and patients’ and parents’ preferences and desires.

Methods A Dutch working group (28 individuals) with a strong multidisciplinary character developed a draft IPPCP, which was piloted retrospectively and prospectively. In the pilots we completed, the IPPCPs for patients who were recently diagnosed with a life-threatening or life-limiting condition and evaluated completeness, usability and user-friendliness.

Results The final IPPCP comprised five domains: (1) IPPCP data, (2) basics, (3) social, (4) psychosocial and spiritual and (5) physical care. Each domain covered various components. In both pilots, the IPPCP was considered a comprehensive document that covered all areas of paediatric palliative care and was experienced as an improvement to the present situation. However, the current form was regarded to lack user-friendliness.

Conclusion We propose a set of essential components of a comprehensive IPPCP for paediatric palliative care with extra attention for advance care planning and anticipatory action. Patients’ and parents’ preferences and desires are included next to the recommendations of the evidence-based guideline ‘Palliative care for children’.

  • palliative care
  • individualized care plan
  • children
  • life-threatening or life-limiting conditions
  • advance care planning

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