Taking your baby home from the NICU after you give birth in Philadelphia can be both joyful – and a little scary. This is especially true for families who find themselves going home with a child who has special health needs. You may need to bring oxygen equipment, apnea monitors, suctioning equipment or other medical devices with you to your house. It may even be the case that your baby needs complicated feeding and medication regimens and round-the-clock care.

As a general rule, your baby will only be sent home from the hospital after he or she is stable enough. But even so, you still might find yourself wanting the assistance of skilled nursing staff to help you with your child’s care. Fortunately, this resource is available to families in the form of pediatric home care in Philadelphia. Some private insurers offer Private Duty Nursing benefits for qualifying children. Most of the time, this service is offered through Medicaid and approved for families through a state run Medicaid Waiver Program.  It is a good idea to check the programs available in Pennsylvania.

If you need to hire a pediatric home care assistant, you will want to know that your child is in the hands of the best professionals. These assistants are usually registered nurses with years of experience in pediatric and nursing floors at Philadelphia hospitals. Some can be Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) or pediatric field staff nurses for local home health agencies.  Their varied background and exceptional skills allow them to provide home nursing services for medically fragile children.

What does a Pediatric Home Caregiver Do?

Pediatric Home Care Philadelphia agencies provide home care for medically fragile children from 0 – 20 years of age.  Pediatric Home Care works more like Private Duty Nursing (PDN) instead of intermittent care which is the case in geriatric home health.  This involves skilled nursing care provided in the patient’s home on an hourly basis.  This could be as little as 4 hours a day or up to 24 hours a day, depending on the needs of your child.  Home nursing is a continuation and an extension of the nursing care that was received in the NICU.  Skillful observations, medical treatments, charting, medication management, and caregiver education are just a few examples of what skilled pediatric home caregivers can do in the home.

When would a family use pediatric services?

A family might turn to a pediatric home care Philadelphia agency for a number of reasons, but in every case it is because their child needs daily nursing care that goes beyond the needs of most children. Your doctor must determine the medical necessity for a child to have home nursing care upon discharge from the hospital.  This determination is made with the help of assessments and meetings with the hospital discharge planners, social workers, and nursing staff. Some examples of children who would qualify for home nursing care are:

  • Premature infants – most premature infants (24 – 32 weeks) have complications that would qualify them for home nursing;
  • Respiratory-compromised children –bronchopulmonary dysplasia, traumatic brain injury complications, syndrome- related complications, tracheostomy either permanent or temporary;
  • Cardiac-compromised children – syndrome-related complications, congenital anomaly, etc.; Read this free Web Booklet: If Your Child Has a Congenital Heart Defect from the American Heart Association.
  • Neurologically-compromised children – seizure disorder, syndrome-related, Cerebral Palsy, seizure control devices;
  • Ventilator dependent children
  • Gastrostomy – children who require feeding either via NJ tube or G Button.

The nurse who will work in your home attends to all medical needs of the child; however, the specific needs differ from each child.  They may monitor vital signs, provide intervention accordingly based on assessment, operate necessary medical equipment that is in place, wound care, removal of secretions by performing chest PT when needed, and chart the progress of the child.  Teaching and educating the parents/caregivers is also an important role the nurses play in the home.  All skilled medical needs are based on the diagnosis of the child.  The nurses and case managers stay in close contact with the primary care physician as well.

Ultimately, parents are the decision makers for their child and must ensure the home meets the safety needs of the patient.  It is important that the parents understand the Plan of Care (POC) set forth by the physician.  If there is any question of the medical needs or POC for their child, they should ask the nurse or case manager to clarify.