Palliative Care Program

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is special support for people who have a serious illness. We can help with medical decisions, communication, and advice about pain or other symptoms. Our main goal is helping patients and families have the best quality of life possible. Palliative care can be useful to patients at any age and at any stage of a serious condition. Patients can receive palliative care support while they are also getting curative treatment.

The Bioethics and Palliative Care Program is thrilled to share our annual report for fiscal year 2023 (PDF), highlighting the accomplishments of our faculty and staff.

What is hospice care and how is it different from palliative care?

Both palliative care and hospice care provide support for patients and families. Both palliative care and hospice are focused on quality of life. For children <21 years old, hospice current care (through the Affordable Care Act) ensures that patients can receive hospice care while also receiving disease directed care. While Palliative Care can be helpful at any point in the course of a serious illness, hospice is provided for patients near the last 6 months of life.

Palliative care can benefit patients and families who:

  • Have been diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer or a genetic condition
  • Use medical technology such as a tracheostomy or home ventilator
  • Need help understanding their condition
  • Need help making medical decisions
  • Need advice about pain and other symptoms, treatment side effects, or the stress of a serious condition
  • Will need a long hospital stay or many hospital stays and more support would be helpful

Patients and families can get help with:

  • Communication with their care teams
  • Making medical decisions at any stage of illness
  • Understanding what to expect over the course of illness
  • Advanced care planning and documentation
  • Referral to community services such as home palliative care or hospice (if appropriate)
  • Advice about pain and other symptoms
  • Emotional support in coping with a new serious illness diagnosis or advancing illness

We understand that each family is different. We take a personal approach to help with the physical, psychological, social and other effects a serious illness can have on a family.

The team includes specialists in palliative care for children, teens, young adults and their families including:

  • Doctors
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurse care coordinators
  • Palliative care consultants who may have a background in social work, chaplaincy or nursing

We work with you and your child’s care teams to make sure that your needs are understood and that you understand all the available care options.

Health Equity

A commitment to health equity and anti-racism is at the heart of everything we do. We work hard to make sure that our patients and their families have the support they need in coping with serious illness—especially patients and families from communities that have historically faced unjust treatment based on race, ethnicity, language, age, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship, geography, poverty, or other factors. We partner closely with the Seattle Children’s Hospital Center for Diversity and Health Equity.

How to Access Our Services

The Palliative Care Program is available through referral. Your child’s primary medical team can submit a referral, or you may speak directly to your care team and ask for a referral.

After your provider places a referral, a member of our team will arrange a time to meet with you and your family.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please call the Palliative Care program coordinator at 206-987-7459. We are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.