The Joys of Pediatric Home Health

Posted on October 19th, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

The Joys of Pediatric Home Health


Denise Koonce OTR

Before I began working full time as a home health therapist I started out seeing pediatric patients part-time after work.  I remember being tense and wound up as I would leave my hospital job and head for my first pediatric patient.  I would usually see a couple of pediatric patients every afternoon.  Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my adult rehab setting it was a different environment and had a different set of stressors.  However, I began to notice that before I would finish working with my first pediatric home health patient the stress of my day had began to fade away.  The muscles in my neck were no longer tense, my mind was no longer racing at break neck speed, and the big deep breaths were no longer necessary.  There was an inherent benefit I received while treating and working with children in their own settings.  Over the years I have come to realize other inherent benefits of pediatric home health.  Here are only a few of those benefits:    

Conducive Environment for Treatment– I believe working with a child in their own environment can have phenomenal results.  There are so many answers that can be seen or realized when you treat a child in their home.  Unknowns become known, unclear becomes clear; so many times over the years I have finished the evaluation process with a child and perhaps have began the treatment regime only to be puzzled as to why something isn’t going as I would expect.  After I begin to narrow it down, ask more detailed questions and say “show me” to the caregiver, the answer usually presents itself.   We as a team can then discuss the changes necessary and implement them right then and there in their environment.  

The home environment is an ideal place for parent/family training of the home program. The therapist can demonstrate then have the caregiver repeat the steps all within the environment where the activity needs to be performed.   Therefore you do not have to imagine where or how the family will perform the activity, as you might, because you are treating them in a clinic or another environment.       

Flexibility in Scheduling – There is a generous amount of flexibility in scheduling with home health.  If something pops up unexpectedly, many times you are able to rearrange your day and week to tackle the unexpected and still see all of your patients. 

Change of Scenery – Your environment is constantly changing from one patient’s house to the next and from one neighborhood to the next.  Over the course of a week you could experience a multitude of cultures.  There was a period of time for me when within one week I was in the homes of individuals from India, Vietnam, Ghana, China, Mexico, France, and Iraq.  I learned so much about their family, their cultures and the individual situations, sometimes heartbreaking, which had brought them to America.  These experiences provided me a small window in order to view life differently from my own and an opportunity to grow as a human being.

Also between each patient the drive gives you the time to mentally summarize your last treatment and then begin to mentally prepare a treatment plan for the next patient.  You learn to become a great navigator.  Over the years between treating and supervising I learned the city extremely well.  In fact the only part of the city and its surrounding areas that I did not have the opportunity to treat was in downtown Houston proper.   I used to come home and tell my husband a couple of new things I saw while I was out in the field.  It was a moment we both enjoyed and we would jokingly refer to it as, “The Things That I Saw on Mulberry Street” moment, using the title of a Dr. Seuss book. 

Home health sounded daunting and created a sense of trepidation when I was first approached by the idea but by having an open mind it afforded me a world of opportunity filled with warm memories and special experiences.  I would encourage you as a therapist to open your mind to the possibility of the world of pediatric home health.  If you do, you will not be disappointed.  This is only a short list of some of the benefits and joys of pediatric home health.  If you have your own list of joys please share them with us.

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