Supportive Care Program

Rady Children’s has made pediatric palliative care a priority for our oncology patients through the establishment of the Hematology/Oncology Supportive Care Program in 2005.

The mission of the Supportive Care Program is to improve the quality of life for our high-risk and relapsed pediatric cancer patients by providing comprehensive, coordinated care across all treatment settings and during all phases of treatment. Our focus is pain control and symptom management for the child, and emotional and spiritual well-being for both the patient and family.

For the patient with intensive and multi-faceted needs, this program allows the delivery of supportive care services focused on comfort, alongside aggressive treatment focused on prolonging life. These services are further enhanced by the Hospital’s Pain Service and Ethics Committee in consult, and the services of the San Diego Hospice team.

Our team is interdisciplinary and includes physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, child life specialists, parent liaisons, teachers, spiritual counselors and administrators.

The Supportive Care Program was designed to provide an extra layer of support and guidance for the patient and family as they face complex care issues and decision making.

We strive to:

  • Enhance communication between patients, families, staff and community resources, especially across care settings.
  • Facilitate care conferences using a structured approach, with a nurse-written Supportive Care Communication Tool to help clarify patient/family preferences and goals of care.
  • Provide a sounding board for sensitive discussion about the burdens and benefits of treatment options.
  • Assess and track patient’s quality of life using a symptom assessment scale.
  • Facilitate the use of our Integrative Medicine Program.
  • Formulate an end-of-life care plan when appropriate.
  • Enhance bereavement resources for families.
  • Provide support and education for staff.

Team meetings occur bi-monthly and serve as a valuable opportunity to discuss the complex needs of families facing difficult treatment decisions or care at the end of their child’s life.

The Hematology Oncology Supportive Care Program looks to the future through our inter-disciplinary Palliative Care Research Committee, which applies for research grants to expand services across the continuum of care at Rady Children’s.

We will continue to strive to enhance our care, so that even in the face of daunting odds, children with a life-threatening cancer can live well – or if cure is not possible, die gently.

For more information about our Supportive Care Program, contact JoAnne Auger, R.N., C.H.P.P.N., Supportive Care Coordinator at 858-966-1700, x 6189 (voice mail), 858-494-7422 (pager) or jauger@rchsd.org.