There is a lot of work involved caring for a child with medical needs. At some point, many parents realize that they just cannot do it all. Sometimes, family members and friends are willing to pitch in and help out; but often, they cannot be there consistently to fill in when you need a break. For parents in this situation, in-home long-term pediatric care is an increasingly popular option.
With in-home pediatric care, a health professional comes to your home to help tend to the needs of your child. The professional can provide a wide range of services, giving parents and other family members much-needed relief. Not all pediatric home health providers are the same, however, and there are some things to look out for when you hire someone to look after your child.
Here are four common mistakes to avoid when setting up in-home pediatric care:
Not Determining the Needs of the Child: When you are considering bringing in outside help for your child, you need to have a detailed discussion with the care provider about what exactly the child needs assistance with. For example, does the child need help with meals, dressing, bathing, taking medications, etc.? Or does he/she just need a companion for an hour or two during the day? Make sure you and the provider agree on what type of care will be provided, and develop a customized plan based on the child’s specific needs.
Not Determining the Preferences of the Child: Another important area that is often overlooked is the preferences the child has based on his/her unique personality. One of the major goals of in-home pediatric care is for the health provider to build strong rapport with the child. For this to happen, the provider needs to know what the child likes and dislikes. For example:
- What are the child’s favorite foods?
- Which foods should be avoided?
- Does your child like to watch TV? If so, which programs does he/she prefer?
- What other activities does your child enjoy?
- What are the best ways to give your child his/her medication?
These and similar questions should be answered, and the answers given to your provider ahead of time.
Failing to Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations: Every family has different customs and different rules around etiquette and what is expected of someone coming into the home from the outside. It is important to communicate these expectations, and to set clear boundaries ahead of time so everyone is on the same page. Here are some questions to answer to help set up clear boundaries and expectations:
- Can the provider walk right into the house at the start of their shift, or should they ring the doorbell?
- Is the provider allowed to answer the phone or the doorbell if either of them rings?
- Is the provider allowed to help him or herself from the refrigerator, or use the stove, microwave, or other appliances?
- Will the provider join the family during meals?
- Can the provider participate in any other family activities that happen at home?
Not Vetting the In-Home Pediatric Care Agency: Hiring a home health provider for your child is a major step, and you need to know that you can trust the agency providing the care. When you speak with the in-home care agency, ask direct questions regarding their credentials, such as:
- Are you licensed to provide at-home pediatric care in this state?
- What type of training do your professionals have to perform this type of care?
- Have your professionals passed a comprehensive criminal background check?
- Are your professionals fully insured?
- If something goes wrong and I am not satisfied with the professional you provide, may I request a replacement?
- Can I adjust the care plan and/or terminate the plan if circumstances change?