Caring for a child with complex medical needs at home is an enormous responsibility. As much as you love your child and are the best advocate, caregiver, and cheerleader, taking charge of the day-to-day care can be overwhelming, exhausting, and sometimes frightening. Having a specially-trained pediatric home care nurse in your home to help care for your child can provide a welcome respite for you and top-notch medical care for your child.
But, will this “stranger” in your home be the right fit – for your child, for you, and for the rest of your family? The best way to ensure that your child’s new nurse – or team of nurses – is in sync with your child’s needs and that all of you acclimate well to this situation, is to convey your expectations, preferences, and concerns up front.
Discuss rules and roles; ask questions and be open to new ways of doing things. Get to know your child’s nurse and give her the opportunity to learn as much as she can about your child, your family, and your home.
Here are five important topics to discuss when introducing your child’s nurse to your family and inviting them into your home:
Just as every child is different, so is every home situation. Don’t assume your nurse will instinctively know your preferences and house rules. Some people are very particular about the “Dos and Don’ts” of their home, while others have a more laid-back attitude. Being clear on boundaries and rules will help your child’s nurse feel more confident that she is being respectful of your home and your wishes.
- When she arrives for her shift, should she ring the bell or just walk in?
- Is it okay to use the appliances in your kitchen?
- Can she adjust the heat or air conditioning settings?
- Can she answer the phone? The doorbell?
- Can she join your family at mealtime?
Maintaining your child’s daily routine
If you have some set routines that you’d like maintained, your child’s nurse will want to know. Some of these topics will be dependent on your child’s age and ability.
- Wake and nap times
- Bathing: certain days and times? What kind? (tub, shower, bed)
- Meals: When? Does your child eat at the table with you?
- Activities: Do you bring your child outside for a walk each day?
- TV, computer, or video games: Is there a limit on how much and what programs are allowed?
- Medication and procedures: What is the schedule for administering medicine and certain procedures, if applicable?
Your involvement as a care partner
Regardless of how much care your child’s nurse provides, she does not take the place of a parent. Let the nurse know how much involvement you’d like to have in your child’s daily care.
- Do you prefer to feed your child? What role would you like to have in bathing, dressing, and naptime?
- Define when you should be consulted: clothing selection, food choices, optional medication? (ex, if pain medicine can be given as needed, should the nurse ask you before administering?)
- What role do the siblings play in the care or socializing? Remember that the nurse is there to take care of her client, not your other children. Never ask her to act as a babysitter.
Your child’s likes and dislikes
Your child’s nurse will want to know your child’s likes and dislikes because that will help her keep your child happier and more comfortable.
- What are your child’s favorite TV shows, books, snacks, music, or activities?
- Does your child like to be held a certain way?
- Is your child easily frightened by loud noises or the dark?
- What about taking medicine? Is it a struggle to administer?
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or work full-time, you’ll want to have regular and clear communication with your child’s nurse.
- If you’re not home, should the nurse call you to give you a status when her shift is over?
- Can she call you at work if she has a question?
- When a nurse begins her shift, how will you update her on your child’s status and needs?
During this time of transition, it’s natural to feel hesitant and unsure about opening your home to a pediatric home care nurse and entrusting them with the care of your child. However, by expressing your preferences early on, educating them about your family and your home, and appreciating their role and experience, this “stranger” will, most likely, become like another member of the family.
If you are raising a child with special needs, home health care can help. Contact us today.