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Pediatric Home Care for Kids with Special Needs

Monday, January 23, 2017

Parents of medically fragile children cope with a myriad of challenges. For these families, it’s helpful to know that high quality pediatric home health care is available all day, every day, 365 days a year. Home health care services allow children with short-term or chronic medical needs to receive safe and appropriate pediatric care in the comfort of their own homes.

When a child has been discharged from the hospital, has an acute illness or injury, or has long-term disabilities or special needs such as cerebral palsy or autism, a physician will often recommend in home pediatric services as an alternative to facility care, to help children get the clinical care they need at home.

Pediatric Home Care Benefits for the Entire Family

Pediatric Home Care seems self-explanatory, but pediatric home care includes a wide range of services not always understood or recognized. Services can be as simple as a home health aide regularly assisting with your child’s daily living activities or as complex as a highly trained nurse administering and monitoring infusion therapy or skilled assessments and interventions. Staff in different disciplines with advanced skill levels move in and out of a home in shifts. Comprehensive care plans and designation of essential skill level requirements are critical in caring for children with medical complexities.

When parents understand how in-home health care works, it is easier to welcome the support and relief they can receive from a pediatric nurse or specially trained pediatric home health aide. Allowing a child to stay safely at home offers enormous benefits for the entire family. When a child is hospitalized, parents often travel daily or relocate to temporary housing to be with their child as much as possible. Siblings and pets may be far away, contributing to a child’s emotional distress. For parents, the cost of travel and lodging, along with missed work, can be staggering, putting the family’s financial security at risk. Pediatric home care relieves these burdens while keeping children safe in their homes.

Before engaging in home care, a home health care agency will coordinate care with parents and the child’s medical providers to customize a plan of care. A quality home health care agency should employ fully-insured professionals, carefully matching them to meet your family’s needs. They should also be supervised in the home by a registered nurse clinical manager, who is part of your child's home health care team. The clinical manager provides oversight to keep the caregiver’s training current, and will regularly assess and adjust the care plan to adapt to a child’s or family’s changing needs.

Recognizing that each child and family is unique, home health caregivers may include nurses, home health aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and social workers. Besides nursing and therapy, caregivers can provide personal care services to help children who need special assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, exercise, and even playing. Pediatric home health aides may accompany children to school or on school trips, or assist families with transportation, nutritious meal preparation, and light housekeeping. Home health care professionals can also be engaged for short or long-term respite care, allowing family caregivers the time they need to take care of themselves, as well.

Many reimbursement sources help families cover the cost of in-home pediatric nursing. CommandCare, for example, accepts most payors, including private health insurances, and will coordinate coverage and manage paperwork and billing to give families peace of mind.

What you need to know before bringing nursing care into your home

  • To accommodate your child’s needs, you may want to consider rearranging some of your home furnishing. For example, if you are requesting night nursing, you will want to have your child in an area that won’t keep the rest of the family awake. The nurses are quiet but they stay awake all night to meet the medical needs of your child.
  • You can keep your child’s room cheery and kid friendly, and still have the necessary medical supplies within easy reach. It does not have to look like an ICU. We recommend stowing the medical supplies in white, clear or colorful bins and drawers that you can often see in a kid’s room. Many parents have a supply closet for the bulk of supplies and keep a smaller amount in the child’s room.
  • We ask you to remember that you are in charge of your home. Our caregivers are trained to be mindful that they are guests in your home and that your preferences should be respected at all times.
  • Many parents provide our caregivers with a list of “need to know”. This can be very helpful to our staff. Don’t be shy about communicating your wishes to our nurses. Here are some examples: Where should the nurse park? Where can they keep their lunch? What restroom should they use? Where are supplies located? A dry erase board is a great way to help with communication and organization.
  • Many parents want one or two caregivers only. This is understandable because it can be difficult to gain trust, also for children it is easier for them to adjust to a small amount of new people. BUT it is not realistic. We advise a small team, so that if someone is ill we have options of people that know your child.
  • We try very hard to match your caregivers to the needs of your child and your family. If your child is vented, we try to match your child with trach and vent experienced nurses. We make it a priority to match your child with caregivers who are not only trained to provide the appropriate care for your child’s needs but who are most likely to fit with your family on a personal level.

Choosing the right home care agency is a decision that may significantly enhance your family’s quality of life. Take the time to thoroughly research home health companies, and ask about accreditation, hiring standards and screenings, training, scope of services, scheduling, pediatric experience, and reliability.

It’s always an incredible thing when children with increasingly complex medical needs are able to live at home, and CommandCare plays a crucial role in keeping these kids thriving with their families. CommandCare staff are available 24/7 so care is never far away.

Staff Writer, Deirdre