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Physiotherapy in Paediatric Palliative care

Lived Experienced

October 14th 2022 at 10:00am

Institution: Very Special Kids - Victoria, Australia

Physiotherapists have supported children with complex disabilities and a wide range of conditions for many years.  They have a unique role to play in enhancing the lives of children with life limiting conditions with the ability to support children from the time of diagnosis through to the end of their life. Physiotherapy can support a child’s need for curative treatment and development alongside their need for palliative care.  All children have a right to have their needs met, to play, to access education and to participate in society and physiotherapists have a role in all these aspects. Prior to 2017, physiotherapists were not employed in Australian paediatric hospices.

In May/June 2022 a fellowship trip will be undertaken, enabling travel to 12 hospices in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  There are 54 hospices within the United Kingdom and the selection criteria for those to be visited includes being regarded as leaders in physiotherapy service provision, having unique models of care, and incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in their service provision.

The aim of this fellowship is to investigate the role of physiotherapy in paediatric palliative care, particularly in a hospice setting.  Land- based and aquatic physiotherapy will be explored for children with life limiting conditions.

Areas of focus will be positioning, respiratory management, appropriate equipment, supporting participation in activities of a child & family’s choice, maximising independence, treating pain & managing symptoms.  More broadly, the role of allied health in Paediatric hospices will also be explored.  Throughout the pandemic there has been expansion of community based allied health teams when hospice stays have been limited globally. This aspect of allied health and particularly physiotherapy service provision will also be investigated.


  • Mrs Belinda Luther

    Physiotherapist - Very Special Kids

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