Bringing Care Home: The Facts on Home Health Services for Children
Susan Ecker-Sterner, RN, BA, CSN, Director BAYADA Pediatrics Transitional Care Program / July 28, 2020
Home health care is a service that people don’t usually learn about until they need it. There’s a lot to understand if your child needs ongoing medical care and it can be overwhelming.
Pediatric home health care ranges from short-term nursing—like follow-up after a discharge from the hospital—to long-term nursing care for a chronic illness or disability.
In addition, assistive care can help with bathing, dressing, exercising, playing, light housekeeping, and meal preparation. Other home health care services include care for children at school and on trips, and respite care for family caregivers who need to go to work or take a break to rest and recharge.
Depending on the child’s needs, home health caregivers may be nurses, home health aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, or social workers. Home health care companies will coordinate and accept reimbursement from private health insurance, HMOs, auto insurance, Medicaid, and other governmental programs.
The Advantages of Keeping Families Together
Although the thought of having home care nurses can cause fear and anxiety, there is also excitement at the promise of finally being able to bring your child home.
Often, children thrive once they are home, surrounded by their family. The home environment is less threatening and more familiar, it strengthens the family bond and keeps children engaged in family activities, and it provides easier access to friends, community, and loved ones. In addition, some children tend to make medical gains more quickly once they are home. Families also appreciate not having to travel back and forth to a hospital or care facility, which often adds to their financial burden.
Another key advantage is the home health care nurse. This highly skilled medical professional can be a one-on-one wealth of information, security, compassion, and support at a time when parents need it most. As the nurses work collaboratively with the family and the child’s medical team, they teach parents and caregivers how to care for their children and cope with their new situation. They may also help connect families to important community resources.
Choosing the Right Home Care Provider
Finding someone to care for your child can be an overwhelming task. You want to make sure they will provide the highest quality care, while also making your child feel comfortable and safe.
Asking home health care providers the following questions will help you learn more about them and the individuals who would be coming into your home:
- How long has your home health care company been serving the community?
- Does your company specialize in pediatric care?
- Is your company state licensed? Is it certified by any accrediting body, such as CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Program) or The Joint Commission?
- Does a registered pediatric nurse come out and perform an evaluation? If so, what does this entail?
- How do you ensure that your health care professionals have the skills to care for my child? Are your nurses as qualified as hospital nurses?
- What sort of background checks are performed before a health care professional is hired? Are your employees fully insured?
- As a parent, what sort of participation can I expect in planning my child’s care and routine? Do you consult with my child’s physicians?
- How will the home health care professionals know what my child needs? How will they interact with my child when not performing medical procedures?
- How many health care professionals will be caring for my child? Can I meet them before they start to work? What happens if a care professional isn’t a good fit for our family?
- How will I know which health care professional is scheduled for the day? How are schedule changes communicated to me? How does the office cover my child’s care if the care professional is unable to work a scheduled shift?
- Who coordinates all of the services your home health care company will provide to my child and family?
- Will your company assist me in obtaining any medical supplies or equipment that my child needs?
- Will your company assist me in getting my home health care services approved, maintained, and paid for?
- Do you protect your clients with written standard procedures and policies?
- How will our personal information be protected? Will the care professionals be respectful of our home, belongings, and beliefs?
- If I have a question or concern, is someone available 24 hours a day, every day?
In addition to these questions, the National Association for Home Care recommends asking home health care providers for a list of references from doctors, hospital discharge planners, families who received care, or community leaders who are familiar with the provider’s quality of service. This may help put your mind at ease, knowing others have had good experiences and can vouch for the provider.
Confidently Achieving Your Child’s Best Outcomes
It goes without saying that no parent ever expects to need ongoing medical care for their child. For thousands of resilient families who rise to that challenge and make caring for a medically fragile child part of their everyday routine, home health care services often become a cornerstone of their lives, and their professional caregivers become like part of the family.
The continuity of care professional help provides can be both a relief on the household and a game-changer for achieving a child’s best possible health and well-being outcomes. By doing your own research before hiring a home care provider, you’ll feel better about your decision and more confident that this will be a positive experience for you and your family.
**Statements on this blog reflect the author’s personal opinion and do not represent the views of Ryan’s Case for Smiles. They are also not to be viewed as personal medical advice, but rather for the purpose of general knowledge. The reader should speak to their healthcare team, or their child’s, for medical advice.**
About the author: Susan Ecker-Sterner, RN, BA, CSN, is director of the BAYADA Pediatrics Transitional Care Program, which helps to safely transition children with complex medical needs from the hospital to home care nursing. Susan started with BAYADA in 1991 ago as a pediatric home health care nurse. In 1999, she earned a promotion to a clinical manager where she provided supervision to a team of nurses. In 2009 she became a transitional care manager working in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and in 2018, she took on the role of director, providing strategic direction for partnership at dozens of hospitals across the country. She earned her BA from Rutgers University and her Certified School Nurse degree from Rowan University.