Introduction: One in 10,000 children die of a life-threatening condition annually, and in the UK, nearly forty hospices exist to provide care for children with life-threatening illnesses. This study was designed to explore what is offered within children's hospices and how they cared for the growing number of older children and adolescents who are living with life-limiting illness.
Materials and methods: A questionnaire was sent to all of the children's hospices in the UK (n=40), as listed in the Hospice Information (2003) Hospice Information, Hospice Directory, 2003. A number of different areas were covered e.g. staffing, services offered, nature of care provided and, in relation to older children, their links with adult hospices.
Results: Thirty-three of the 40 children's hospices returned the questionnaires--an 83% response rate. Care of adolescents with life-threatening illness was identified as an issue with more than 50% of the hospices stating that they had difficulty in liaison with adult hospices to offer support for adolescents.
Conclusion: This study highlights that there is consistency in the high level of care being provided to children up to the age of 18, but provision of care after this age is patchy and not always readily available.