Leaving the NICU: 7 Benefits of Home Care
Kathy Decker, Community Outreach Coordinator, Home Care
Bringing home a baby from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for the first time can be overwhelming. Most parents experience a range of emotions – excited to be leaving the hospital, while worried of taking care of their little one after having around-the-clock care in the NICU.
While feeling stressed is normal, it’s important to know that a child is only discharged from the NICU when that child is healthy enough to go home. Our job as home care coordinators and clinicians is to provide that extra support to families as they settle in at home and get comfortable with their new normal.
Support for Common to Complex Conditions
Home care is a valuable service, which is sometimes underutilized. Many people think home care is only for medically complex kids, but that’s not the case. Not all children that go home from the NICU need clinical respiratory services, feeding tubes or long-term care for multi-congenital abnormalities. Some newborns simply need extra support for a short time – that can be teaching parents or caregivers how to use an apnea monitor or a nebulizer, providing feeding education (how to measure and correctly mix formula, breastfeeding tips, recommended feeding positions, nutritional needs and growth assessment), giving head-to-toe child evaluations, and providing home environment and safety assessments.
Benefits of Home Care
- Eases Anxiety
Educating parents on how to provide the proper care to their child at home can help ease any anxiety they may have leaving the NICU. Parents feel reassured knowing that a pediatric trained clinical home care nurse is going to make a visit or is just a phone call away.
- Children Thrive at Home
Kids in general thrive better at home where they're comfortable and surrounded by a familiar environment instead of a clinical setting. Home care visits also make it easier on parents, so they’re not driving back-and-forth to the doctor. This is especially convenient for families that live in rural communities and have a longer commute. (Home Care services are available for patients that reside within a 55-mile service area.)
- Prevents Hospital Readmission
Staying at home prevents newborns from being exposed to germs in the hospital and clinic, especially during the cold and flu season. (This is especially important for high-risk patients.)
When families have extra support at home, they’re also less likely to make unnecessary emergency room visits for minor concerns that arise. Instead, parents can call their home care nurse or wait to see if it’s something the nurse can help with at home.
- Continuity of Care
When people are stressed or overwhelmed it’s easy to miss appointments. Home care is the connection between families and the primary care physician. The clinicians help make sure parents are taking kiddos to follow-up appointments and following the doctor’s recommendation for care.
- Around-the-Clock Support
Home Care has staff on-call 24-7, so when parents have a question or concern at any hour in the day, the team can triage the situation over the phone and make an appropriate recommendation.
- Full-Service Care
We’re the only full-service pediatric home health agency in the region, so everything parents need is in one place once they leave the NICU. In addition to nursing care, families can also order supplies and infusion medications through Home Care.
- Builds Strong Relationships
Home care nurses, therapists and other team members become part of the family when they make regular visits for a long period of time. They get to know schedules, likes and dislikes of the patient and caregivers and what kind of other support the family is receiving.
One of the most important things we do is offer support and encouragement to families during each visit, because we want parents to be successful in caring for their child independently.
In addition to home nursing visits, other Home Care services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, clinical respiratory services, durable medical equipment, and pharmacy.