Home Health Aide Training Part 2: Working Effectively With Home Care Patients Who Are Children

When one initially thinks of home care patients, children don’t tend to come to mind. We tend to think of adults, including the elderly and the disabled (either mentally or physically) as needing home care. However, the reality is that there is a great need for home care for children as well. Here’s what you need to know:

Why Children Need Home Care

A child may need home care for a number of reasons. Some of these include:

Physical Disability

The most obvious of course is that they may be physically disabled, either from birth or from some later event such as an accident or disease. While parents will ideally take an active role in helping to care for their children, they may be overwhelmed or simply lack the knowledge or experience to care for their children who are physically disabled. Therefore, you may be called upon to provide home care services to these children in order to provide them with their needs.

Mental Disability

Like physical disabilities, mental disabilities do affect children as well. In this case, it’s entirely possible that you’ll be called upon to work with developmentally challenged or mentally ill children who may also have emotional problems.

Other Possibilities

Other possible reasons that you may be called upon to work with children as a home care aide include chronic illness of a parent or parents, desertion by parents, death of a parent or physical, sexual or emotional abuse of the children. In all these case however, the needs of the child will largely be the same.

What a Child Needs

Working with children as home care patients means understanding what a child needs as opposed to an adult. While some of the physical needs of children may well be the same, i.e. they may need help with preparing food, bathing or other basic tasks, there are also special considerations when working with children which you must be aware of. They are:

Safety and Security

More than anything else, children need to feel safe and secure. This is especially important in cases where the parent is unable or unwilling to take care of their child properly. Children who develop without feeling safe will develop a lifetime of emotional problems which will never completely heal and as such, this must be your primary concern. This means making sure that the child feels she has someone to talk to in the event that there is an emergency and that the child’s basic needs are taken care of.

Physical Needs

Hand in hand with safety and security, physical needs must be met for the child. These include not just providing food for the child but also making sure that she has clean clothes to wear to school and making sure that they take care of their personal hygiene. This may mean for example making sure that children put on deodorant when they reach a certain age and or making sure that they brush their teeth properly each morning and night.

Emotional Needs

Beyond the physical and safety needs of the child you work with as a home care patient, you must make sure that the child’s emotional development needs are taken care of. For example, a child must develop a sense of belonging so that he can feel as if he is part of a community and not a loner. This may mean helping the child to understand interpersonal relationships and working effectively with other children.

You may also need to help a child to develop a sense of self worth. This means that the child needs to be encouraged about her grades and about the things she does well so that she feels as if she is contributing to society.

This does not mean however that you must coddle a child. Indeed, it’s counterproductive to do so. Instead, what you want to do is to provide the child with the kind of emotional support she’ll need to develop her own feelings of wanting to care for herself. This means that you need to help her develop the feelings of wanting to keep her room clean and pleasant so that she will do the job herself without being asked to do so and certainly without being berated about it.

Problems You May Encounter

Some of the problems you may encounter in your work with children as home care patients include:

Environment Issues

This may include things like crowded conditions and or parents who are lax about maintaining a clean home for their children.

Socioeconomic Problems

Often, lower socioeconomic status will go hand in hand with overwhelmed parents who are unable to provide all the needs of their children. This is because these parents are often too busy trying to make a living to deal with the myriad issues that their children will face.

Family Problems

Sibling rivalries and indeed all kinds of family problems can complicate your work as a home health care aide with children. It is important however to care for your charges without inserting yourself into family dynamics and allowing children to divorce themselves from the family.

Illness

A common reason that home health care workers are needed to work with children is illness, either of the child or of a parent. In these cases, it’s important to ensure that the child’s needs are taken care of while at the same time acknowledging the illness in the family.

Mental Challenges

Either from the parent or the child. In both cases, these issues must be dealt with sensitively to ensure the child is able to develop as fully as possible.

Alcoholism/Drug Abuse/Violence/Stress

All four of these tend to go hand in hand with alcoholism and drug abuse which often leads to violence and stress, though it possible that domestic violence may exist without alcoholism or drug abuse. In all these cases however, stress will be a common factor and may complicate your efforts with the children you work with. It’s important then to keep this in mind when working with the child so as to help them overcome these family issues.

Typically, you will find that children undergoing these challenges struggle to make sense of the world and tend to blame themselves for the problems that their parents are undergoing. It’s important then as a home care worker with children to ensure that they understand that they are not at fault and that they are indeed blameless and good people in spite of the challenges they face. 

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