When parents of medically complex children are presented with the option of home healthcare, they often have many questions. No matter where you are in the process, finding a reliable and knowledgeable home healthcare provider is essential for your family’s well-being. To help explain what pediatric home healthcare involves and how it might benefit your child, we’re answering five of your most pressing questions.
1. What is pediatric home healthcare?
Pediatric home healthcare is a form of skilled care commonly provided to children recovering from medical treatments or managing chronic conditions. It is generally provided by registered nurses but sometimes can include physical, occupational and speech therapists, nutritionists or licensed practical nurses – depending on the child’s needs.
According to Drs. Mark Hudak and Edwin Simpser, with the American Academy of Pediatrics – Children diagnosed with a complex or chronic medical problem or physical trauma are typical candidates for home health services. This includes:
- Premature infants – many premature infants have complications that compromise their health.
- Children with respiratory conditions – including ventilators, tracheostomies, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or complications from traumatic brain injuries.
- Children with cardiac conditions – including congenital heart defects and congenital anomalies.
- Children with neurological conditions – including seizure disorders, cerebral palsy and other related conditions.
- Children with gastronomy needs – including those using nasojejunal tubes or gastronomy buttons.
Research has shown that children recover faster when receiving care in their homes rather than in a facility environment. They are more comfortable in a familiar environment and can receive care from a dedicated care team rather than hospital staff who are managing several patients. Home health care is also generally cheaper than facility stays and can lead to reduced hospitalizations.
2. How can I vet the person who will be caring for my child?
Most reputable home health care providers employ trained professionals, and at Maxim, all of our nurses and caregivers are screened and matched to clients based on their skill set and the care that the child requires. However, asking potential nurses more questions is absolutely OK.
Here are some questions that you can ask your home nurse:
- Have you ever worked with children before?
- Why did you decide to become a nurse?
- Have you ever worked with a patient with my child’s medical condition?
- How would you handle a medical emergency?
- How do you learn about new medications/ equipment/ treatments?
3. What staff qualifications should I look for?
It’s essential to know the qualifications of the nurses or caregivers that will be working with your child. You want to make sure that your child’s caregiver has a strong medical background and is familiar with their condition.
At Maxim, we have been providing care to medically fragile patients since 1988. Our team of nurses and therapists are committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care in the comfortable surroundings of home. We match our nurses to patients based on their skill set and the child’s needs.
Our caregivers undergo a thorough screening before employment, including background checks, reference checks, license verification and a formal orientation. During their employment, they are regularly evaluated and supervised to ensure that they are providing quality care.
We also prioritize training and skill development. Our caregivers have access to on-site skill labs and online training designed to advance their skill sets and ensure they are up-to-date on the latest medical advancements.
4. Can I be involved in my child’s care?
Inviting healthcare professionals into the home can be stressful for some parents. There is a fear that they will be unable to participate substantively in their child’s care or daily routine. While this is a valid concern, remember you are the parent and healthcare staff are here to help, not replace you! Here are some things you can do to stay actively engaged in your child’s care.
Set up an accessible space for your child to receive care
Depending on the set-up of your home, you may need to rearrange furniture or set up an easily accessible space for your child to receive care. Your child may need to be on the first floor so they can use a walker or wheelchair, and their room may require special equipment, extra electrical outlets or backup power supplies – such as batteries or generators. Having your child near a bathroom or water source can make bathing easier.
To prepare for emergencies, create a list of your child’s medical conditions, allergies, medications, doctors and emergency contacts. In addition, you should inform your utility companies that you have a child using critical medical equipment in the home so that you are a priority in case of an outage.
Learn about your child’s medical equipment
Being knowledgeable about the equipment that your child uses can help you feel more comfortable with their care. Watch doctors and nurses operate equipment and ask questions about what they are doing and how the equipment works. You should also learn how to troubleshoot problems, do maintenance and who to contact in case of an emergency malfunction. It may be helpful to find support groups or social media pages about your child’s condition and equipment so you can hear insights from other families managing the same condition.
Communicate expectations with the care team
As a parent, you know your child best. Tell your nurse and care team about household rules and routines, such as nap, bath, meal and play times. It’s also helpful to share what foods and activities your child likes and dislikes so your caregiver can help ensure your child stays comfortable.
5. How do I pay for care?
Another common concern for parents is how to pay for pediatric home healthcare. Navigating the specifics of payment can be confusing and stressful; however, many options are available.
Families typically pay for home healthcare through self-pay, public third-party payers such as Medicaid and Veterans Administration Benefits and private third-party payers such as commercial health insurance and TRICARE.
Maxim accepts most commercial insurance providers and Medicaid, TRICARE and VA benefits.
Pediatric home healthcare can provide long-term relief, improved quality of life for children, and consistency in medical regimens with qualified practitioners invested in getting the best patient outcome. Caring for medically complex children can be complicated, and understanding all your options for home healthcare is key. If you want to learn more, contact your local Maxim office and learn about services near you!