Revealing the truth behind 5 myths about children’s hospices

The truth behind five common myths about children’s hospice care

There are lots of myths about children’s hospices, many people don’t fully understand the services they provide and wonder what they are really like, or they hear the word “hospice” and don’t want to think about what that means when it comes to children. In this article, we’ll help to dispel some of the common misconceptions around children’s hospice care and reveal what they are really like.

Matilda smiles as she strokes a guinea pig on her lap

1. Children’s hospices are sad places

This myth about children’s hospices is definitely the most common. When many people hear the word “hospice” the first thing that springs to mind is death, grieving families and sadness. Many people are terrified about what they would see at a children’s hospice and how heartbreaking it would be to visit. The reality is so different – children’s hospices are full of laughter, children playing and babies watching the lights in the sensory room. They are a happy, homely environment that feels more like a nursery.

2. Children’s hospices are all about end of life care

Whilst children’s hospices do provide end of life care, this actually makes up quite a small percentage of their care services. They offer so much more – from playgroups for under-fives and carers, to physiotherapy sessions in the hydrotherapy pool and psychosocial support for the whole family. Learn more about children’s hospice care on the Together for Short Lives website.

At Acorns Children’s Hospice, the team go above and beyond to meet the family’s needs – from supporting brothers and sisters to learning each child’s individual likes and dislikes. Children’s hospices become such an integral part of a family’s support network during a child’s life and many parents say they don’t know what they’d do without this support. 

3. Children’s hospices are completely funded by the NHS

Many people assume that the NHS covers all the costs of children’s hospice care. However, children’s hospices are not a replacement for hospitals and are partly charity funded – when children come to a hospice for a respite break, it’s usually not because they’re too poorly to be at home – but because their parents need a break from caring round the clock with the peace of mind that their child is in safe hands. 

Children’s hospices work closely with the NHS and other statutory partners and these connections are extremely valuable. At Acorns, they make up around 35% of our funding. However, 60% of the funds we need come from the community – our amazing supporters who take part in events, fundraise, give regularly and so much more. Learn more about how we’re funded in our Impact Report.

Aimee being read to by a Nurse

4. Most children using children’s hospices have cancer

People often think that most children using a children’s hospice have cancer. In fact, there are a wide range of life limiting and life threatening conditions that affect the children they care for, some so unique that they remain undiagnosed. Children’s hospices provide care for children with many life limiting and life threatening conditions including irreversible organ failures, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, batten disease and severe cerebral palsy.

At Acorns Children’s Hospice, approximately 3% of the children we care for have cancer. Learn more about the criteria for acceptance to children’s hospice care here.

5. The support for a family ends when a child passes away

In the sad instances where a child does pass away, some people think that would be the end of the families’ journey with the children’s hospice. On the contrary, there is a whole world of support after a child’s death from help with funeral arrangements and organising finances, to bereavement support and therapy sessions for children who have lost a brother or sister. Children’s hospice care extends to the entire family – giving a community and invaluable support to families during some of their darkest times. 

Children’s hospice myths dispelled

It is so easy to be caught up in assumptions and fears about children’s hospices. Whilst there are sad moments, on the whole children’s hospices are truly places of joy where precious memories are made to be cherished for years to come. Once people step through the door these preconceived ideas are always blown away. Children’s hospices are making a massive difference in their local communities providing a lifeline for those caring for a life limited or life threatened child, and they rely on people like you for support.  

Find your nearest children’s hospice on the Together for Short Lives website.