ComPASS: Comprehensive Pediatric and Adolescent Support Services

By Mayo Clinic Staff

At Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Minnesota, we provide comprehensive supportive care to infants, children and teenagers with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses through an innovative program called ComPASS — Comprehensive Pediatric and Adolescent Support Services.

ComPASS is both a philosophy of care and an organized program for delivering care. This care focuses on improving the quality of your child's life while minimizing both pain and distressing symptoms. Our ComPASS care team works closely with your child's primary health care providers to address the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of your child as well as your family.

Our pledge

We pledge to:

  • Recognize that your child and your family are unique
  • Listen without bias or judgment
  • Support you and your child throughout your health care journey
  • Be respectful of your family's beliefs and wishes for your child
  • Develop care plans for your child along with you and your primary care team
  • Provide pain management and management of uncomfortable symptoms
  • Assist in end of life decision making, should that be necessary

Our services

Our ComPASS care team provides interdisciplinary supportive services, including pain management, palliative care, complementary medicine and — if needed — hospice and bereavement care.

  • Pain team. Our pediatric pain experts focus on relieving distressing symptoms. Our pain team provides close consultation and review of medication regimen as needed for children with complex pain and other symptoms.
  • Palliative care. Palliative care offers pain and symptom management, assistance in setting goals, as well as end of life decision making (should that be necessary), along with emotional, psychological and social support. Perinatal palliative care is also available for newborns and their families. Learn more about Mayo Clinic's palliative care services.
  • Complementary and integrative medicine. In addition to traditional medicine, we provide complementary and integrative techniques to help maximize your child's quality of life and minimize distressing symptoms. Available therapies include music therapy, aromatherapy, massage therapy, hypnosis and pet therapy, with more offerings planned for the future.
  • Other services. If hospice services are needed, we'll work with your child's local hospice provider, make recommendations, and provide consultation to ensure your child's comfort at the end of life. We also offer bereavement services — supportive care for parents and siblings after a child has died. This includes emotional support, grief resources, and other support services as needed. In addition, we reinforce the importance of each child's life and memory at the annual Children's Remembrance Ceremony.

ComPASS care team members

Depending on specific needs, these team members may be involved in your child's care:

  • Primary provider. Your child's primary provider will actively direct your child's treatment. Depending on your child's diagnosis, the primary physician may be a pediatrician, cancer specialist (oncologist), intensive care physician (intensivist), or another pediatric specialist.
  • ComPASS care team physician. This physician works closely with your child's primary physician to coordinate the best plan of care. With specialty training in caring for children who have life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses, the ComPASS care team physician plays a central role in managing distressing symptoms and relieving pain. Promoting the best quality of life possible for your child, your ComPASS care team physician will support your family with difficult decisions, including those regarding end of life.
  • Nurse practitioner. The ComPASS Care Team nurse practitioner provides specialized care designed to meet your child's needs. This nurse has specialized training in managing both pain and uncomfortable symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. In addition, the nurse practitioner coordinates care with your child's health care team.
  • Pain specialist. The pain specialist is specially trained to manage short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) pain. Depending on your child's needs, individual pain relief strategies are developed, often involving traditional medication as well as integrative, holistic therapies, such as relaxation techniques or massage therapy.
  • Social worker. The social worker assesses your family's psychosocial needs, including those of individual family members. A social worker can help you locate financial, government and insurance resources, as well as home health supplies. The ComPASS care team social worker can help with family discussions, particularly during times of crisis.
  • Child life specialist. The child life specialist provides education appropriate to your child's age and development. This may include helping your child prepare for surgery or other procedures and providing support on how to cope. Child life specialists also provide emotional support and education for siblings of hospitalized children, encouraging them to express their feelings and helping them understand the hospital environment.
  • Child psychologist. The child psychologist helps your family cope with medical uncertainties and the demands of your child's illness and treatment. Resilience and emotional, social and behavioral growth are emphasized, while always keeping a focus on quality of life.
  • Chaplain. The chaplain provides spiritual and emotional support based on both your child's and your family's needs and desires. The chaplain can support those in crisis or grief, share prayer and sacraments if desired, and guide you in matters of ethical concerns or decisions. The chaplain also may be of assistance in getting materials or items that may be part of your family's unique faith tradition.
  • Other team members. As part of our team's comprehensive approach for your child, we'll consult with specialists in other areas such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, dietary, psychiatry and pharmacy, as needed.

Is ComPASS Care right for my child?

Our ComPASS care team may be appropriate for your child if your child has been diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening or potentially life-limiting condition. Many children who receive ComPASS care are also receiving care to help save their life and treat the underlying problem.

Conditions that our team provides care for include serious neurologic disorders, severe cerebral palsy, cancers with poor prognosis, serious cardiac conditions and severe genetic abnormalities — just to name a few. There is no age limit, as our team cares for children before birth (prenatally) throughout early adulthood. If your child's physician tells you that your child may have a serious life-threatening condition, ComPASS Care may be right for you.

To arrange for an appointment

Please call 855-MAYO-KID (855-629-6543) toll-free to ask about an appointment for the ComPASS program.

If your child is already a patient at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, please talk with your primary provider about arranging a referral to the ComPASS team.