• Frequently Asked Questions

    StarShine Hospice of Cincinnati Children’s helps parents, siblings, extended family, friends and schoolmates cope with facing the death of a child.

  • Hospice is a choice many people make for their loved ones when a cure no longer seems possible and goals are mainly comfort-oriented.

    StarShine Hospice may be appropriate when the primary physician feels the child’s life expectancy is six months or less if the disease follows its normal course. It is most effective when begun early so the child and other family members can benefit from the many supportive services offered through hospice care.

    For most diseases and conditions, especially in children, outcomes are very difficult to predict. If the child’s condition still meets the criteria for hospice care, and he is showing steady decline, the six-month period can be extended.

    No one, including hospice care providers, would expect a parent to give up hope for their child. Many parents of children in StarShine Hospice ask their primary physicians to continue looking for new therapies.

    However, while hoping for a miracle, hospice helps children and family members live each day to the fullest, create precious memories and prepare for a peaceful and comfortable death.

    No. StarShine Hospice’s philosophy requires that the patient’s primary physician continue to be involved with the patient’s care throughout her time in hospice.

    Care provided by StarShine Hospice is physician-directed and nurse-coordinated, all in accordance with the patient’s and family’s wishes. We also encourage other care providers, such as nurses and other therapists, to maintain their support for the family.

    Most physicians have some understanding of hospice, but may not be aware that there are exclusively pediatric hospices, such as StarShine.

    You should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with your child’s physician, nurse or other care providers. If your physician would like more information about hospice, he or she can contact StarShine Hospice at 513-636-4663 or email starshine@cchmc.org. Another resource is the National Hospice Hotline, 1-800-658-8898.

    Every insurance company has different benefit plans for hospice care, and each child’s case is reviewed on an individual basis. No child will ever be refused care from StarShine Hospice at Cincinnati Children’s because of an inability to pay.

    A major goal of StarShine Hospice is to relieve the pain that can be a part of terminal illness. We have a collaborative relationship with the Pain Management Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s, which allows us to provide state-of-the-art pain and symptom management in the patient’s home.

    Our nurses are available to come to your home 24 hours daily, seven days a week, to assure prompt response to your child’s needs. Hospice also believes that emotional and spiritual pain is just as real and in need of attention as physical pain. Therefore, we offer a variety of supportive services to care for the total child, as well as family members.

    StarShine’s volunteers are specially selected and trained caring individuals. Parents often need a chance to rest or attend to chores. The volunteer can spend time with the ill child, simply playing, reading or talking about topics the child is interested in. The brothers and sisters of the ill child often need some special attention.

    Volunteers are able to entertain the brothers and sisters, either playing with them in the home or taking them on outings to the park, the museum, for ice cream, etc.

    The decisions about what, when and how to tell a child about the illness are left to the physician and the parent. However, hospice staff will provide education to the doctor and parents about how children understand and cope with death and will provide support and guidance as children are helped to understand their disease process.

    Children often pick up on information and emotions from people around them. Hospice staff can determine what the child thinks is happening, then help to clear up any misunderstanding and alleviate fears.

    There are two reasons you might want hospice for your dying child. The first is that hospice provides additional services not normally offered by traditional home care. These additional services available to hospice families include volunteers, social workers, chaplains, massage therapists, child life therapists, home health aides and pain management specialists.

    The second reason is that hospice is not only a service, it is a philosophy. Hospice cares for the whole family and support system.