Friday, January 20, 2012

Choosing a Home Care Agency & Team

Do you need to hire a home care agency for your baby once s/he comes home?

The thought of such can be overwhelming, after all on top of caring for your medically fragile child, this could mean there would be 'strangers' (nurses) in your home caring for you child as well.

For us the visitors didn't stop there. There was the oxygen delivery guy and weekly deliveries medical supplies. Eventually our German shepherd just stopped barking.

Take a deep breath, most likely before you leave the NICU a social worker at the hospital will have an agency in place for you before you get home.

Here are some tips on how I worked with our agency:
  • Once the agency was established and nurses were almost ready to start I asked the agency to have the potential candidates meet us at the hospital prior to them coming into my home.
  • I asked the nurses questions about their background: Have they worked with children before? For how long? Were they experienced in pediatric ventilation and tracheostomy's? G-tubes? Did they smoke?
  • Most important, I observed how the nurse interacted with my son and how comfortable my son was with them. (You can usually tell if this person will be a good fit within the first 15 minutes or so).
  • If something doesn’t feel right to you investigate, ask more questions, talk to the agency about it or move on the the next candidate... Use your instincts.
If at anytime we were in need replacing a nurse at home, we would have the agency send potential candidates to our home prior to starting their assignment.

Once at home, be prepared to do some weaning of staff. Reality is some nurses will work out, some won’t, but don’t let this discourage you. It takes time to establish a “good” home care team.

Sometimes there are lulls in time and it may seem as though your nurse is just a babysitter and your not sure what you can have her do. It can feel awkward, but the most important thing is that you like and trust your nurse. Don't be tempted to reduce your hours in any way. This could result in losing your nursing coverage, besides good nursing can be hard to find.

It isn't uncommon for the home care agency to do a background and skill screening on the nurses (this is what happened in our case). If your not certain, contact agency and ask. Then conduct your own “type” of background check if you feel you need to.


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