Reflections on #HatsOn4CPC by Dr Julia Ambler

The second Friday in October every year is #Hatsof4CPC day; to mark World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, but drawing particular attention to the needs of children, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network ( encourages everyone to wear a heat in support of children’s palliative care (CPC).

The day aims to raise awareness of the rights of very sick children with incurable and life-threatening illnesses to receive palliative care.

What is children’s palliative care?

Children’s palliative care (CPC) is holistic care that responds to the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of a child with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness as well as providing care for the child’s family. It aims to provide expert pain relief and symptom control and whatever emotional, social and spiritual support is required to enable the affected child to enjoy the best quality of life possible in the circumstances.

When necessary, it supports the child at the end of life and continues to care for the bereaved family members for as long as is needed. This care is provided by a compassionate team of people who all wear different, and sometimes many, hats!

Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children as the paediatric palliative care team of Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital ran an awareness morning at the hospital. All staff members were invited to wear a heat, take and post a selfie with the hashtag #Hatson4CPC.

They were joined by Sue Boucher and Lorna Sithole of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network and were thrilled that so many members of staff and even patient’s mothers joined in.

MEC of KZN for Health joins the celebrations

The highlight of the morning was when KZN MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, spontaneously joined in. He was visiting conjoined twins in the neonatal ICU at the hospital. When he realised the occasion, as a palliative care trained doctor he was delighted to don a hat, address the crowd and affirm the department of health’s support of Umduduzi and children’s palliative care. He said, “While we are trying to inculcate the vision of palliative care let us not forget anyone or leave anyone behind.”