The significance of creative therapy in palliative care for children cannot be overstated

Why Creative Therapy in Palliative Care Is Important For Children

Why Creative Therapy in Palliative Care Is Important For Children

Let’s start with defining palliative care, which many people may not be familiar with. Palliative care refers to specialized medical and non-medical support provided to patients living with chronic or serious illnesses. Its primary focus is on enhancing the quality of life for both the patient and their family by alleviating symptoms and reducing the stress associated with the illness. This type of care can involve a multidisciplinary team comprising doctors, nurses, and social workers who are specially trained in palliative care. Regardless of the patient’s age or the stage of their illness, palliative care is crucial. It works alongside curative treatments and is tailored to address individual needs rather than prognosis. Now, let’s delve into the significance of palliative care and creative therapy for children, as explained by Dr. Dinesh Jagiasi, Senior Manager of Health at the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation.

Advantages of palliative care

As per the World Health Organization, palliative care enhances the quality of life for both patients and their families confronting challenges associated with life-threatening illnesses, encompassing physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions. Caregivers’ quality of life also sees improvement. Pediatric palliative care adopts a comprehensive approach to address the multifaceted issues related to caring for children with chronic life-limiting illnesses and their families.

Recent studies indicate that around 25% of children with illnesses may face mortality. Nevertheless, advancements in medicine are enhancing the survival rates among children with various life-limiting conditions.

Research conducted by Connor SR in 2017 estimated a global demand for pediatric palliative care at 21.6 million, with 8.2 million children requiring access to specialized services. In India, some researchers approximate the need for specialized pediatric palliative care at 1.6 million children.

Providing palliative care to children in the comfort of their homes

Palliative care

Caring for children with serious illnesses at home presents unique challenges distinct from those encountered in adult palliative care. Pediatric ailments not only pose significant challenges for parents but also for healthcare providers. Serious illness disrupts the normalcy of childhood, placing immense stress on family members, which can in turn affect the well-being of the sick child. Additionally, since children are continuously growing and evolving, palliative care providers must be attuned to each child’s developmental stage and individual needs, adapting their approach accordingly.

In the context of pediatric palliative care for cancer patients, comprehensive support involves the inclusion of professionals such as play therapists, child life therapists, and/or child behavioral specialists. These specialists play a crucial role in addressing the unique emotional and developmental needs of children facing cancer and supporting their families through the challenging journey.

Incorporating Creative Therapy into Pediatric Palliative Care

Let’s discuss the significance of creativity and expression in Pediatric Palliative Care. It can be challenging for pediatric patients and their families to express emotions such as happiness, anger, regret, despair, and grief. However, creative arts offer an effective outlet for these feelings. Through creative expression, individuals can release these emotions, thereby alleviating both physical and emotional distress.

Palliative care for children

  • For parents and siblings, creative arts therapies offer a distinctive and impactful way to create lasting memories.
  • Patients and their families can participate in various creative activities such as painting, coloring, writing, making music, crafting, and dancing.
  • Engaging in these creative endeavors can enhance mental well-being during challenging times, reduce depressive symptoms, and sometimes even boost immune system functioning and cognitive resilience.
  • Art therapy, an integrative approach to mental health treatment, enhances patients’ lives through active participation in art-making.
  • This can encompass a range of mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, cooking, meditation, and more.
  • Research has shown that art and recreational therapy are effective in promoting psychological well-being in adults, leading to improved communication, satisfaction, and increased self-esteem when utilizing these forms of expression.

Examining the positive outcomes observed in adults, the integration of art and recreational therapy has been extended to children requiring Palliative Care. Children possess innate creativity and imagination, making art and recreational therapy essential components of pediatric palliative care. Let’s collaboratively pave the way for this innovative approach to pediatric palliative care, using the canvas of art and recreational therapy to provide the best possible support and comfort to children in need.