First Neonatal Palliative Care Guidance Launched to Help Clinicians Better Manage Vulnerable Babies

A task force formed with neonatal and palliative care clinicians from the Duke-NUS’ Lien Centre for Palliative Care (LCPC), HCA Hospice Care, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), National University Hospital (NUH) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in Singapore has developed the first-ever guidance book to locally address the complex needs of vulnerable babies, and to further equip healthcare clinicians with the knowledge and skills required to provide supportive and comfort care in managing such babies.

Professor Eric Finkelstein, Executive Director of LCPC, which funded and supported the initiative said: “Clinicians can benefit from having recommended neonatal palliative care guidance on how to manage these babies and be able to convey to patients that their decisions are based on inputs from relevant experts from the local community.” 

Associate Professor Roy Joseph, Emeritus Consultant at the Department of Neonatology at NUH said, “Vulnerable babies and their parents have needs that go beyond the standard medical needs. These include social, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Though these needs and how they can be addressed are well-known to the healthcare professionals, they may not always be remembered in a timely and comprehensive manner because of the immediate need to respond to the medical needs. A guidance document will help to ensure that all needs are systematically identified and addressed, and nothing is left to chance. Our aim is for it to facilitate not only the meeting of the needs of a particular baby and parents but also to stimulate in the nation and region a movement that will enable all vulnerable babies and their parents to receive the needed supportive and comfort care.”

The launch of the neonatal palliative care guidelines will enable every healthcare professional involved in the care of vulnerable babies to refer to a set of consistent and carefully thought-out recommendations endorsed by the Chapter of Neonatologists, College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Perinatal Society of Singapore. The guidelines, created over a three-year period, details the complex needs of vulnerable babies, the key aspects of comfort, supportive and palliative care, and guidance on how to manage babies with life-limiting illnesses.

While similar guidelines are available in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the guidelines here cater to the specific needs of vulnerable babies in Singapore’s unique multicultural society. The ‘Guidance on Supportive and Comfort Care in Vulnerable Babies’ will be officially launched on 28 July 2018 at the Singapore Paediatric and Perinatal Annual Congress (SiPPAC 2018) presentation and group photography ceremony jointly organised by the College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Singapore (CPCHS), Singapore Paediatric Society (SPS) and Perinatal Society of Singapore (PSS).