Working in the home health industry can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining no matter the age of the patients. For pediatric home health workers, there are often additional challenges and emotions to navigate.
Without proper support, these challenges can pose a threat to workers’ mental health, personal lives, and ability to do their jobs well. It’s important to help them understand where these challenges come from and how to handle them when they arise.
Read on to learn more about the challenges faced by home health workers who specialize in working with children and how to support them so they can properly care for their patients — and for themselves.
Challenges of Providing Home Health Care to Children
Like any other healthcare professionals, pediatric home health workers face a number of mental, emotional, and physical challenges. However, working with children also presents unique stressors that not every home health worker may be prepared to deal with.
Managing Mental Health
In addition to mental health stressors like compassion fatigue, stress, and depression that are unfortunately common for healthcare workers across the board, pediatric home health workers deal with the added difficulty of seeing young children in pain.
Watching patients of any age suffer can be devastating on its own, but even more so when those patients’ lives have barely just begun. Resources and support are critical for helping workers deal with the emotional toll in healthy ways so they don’t take those emotions out on themselves or their families.
Transference is the often unconscious redirection of thoughts or feelings about one person onto another. While it can sometimes be useful, in therapy for example, it may be used intentionally to help the client better understand their emotions and behaviors. It can also have negative consequences, especially if it goes unrecognized.
Pediatric home health workers may experience transference by struggling to separate their experiences with their patients from their relationships with their own children. As a result, they may find it especially difficult to cope with a patient’s illness or death, or they may unintentionally treat their families differently because of a patient’s suffering or behavior.
Communicating & Maintaining Patient Autonomy
Communicating with patients and ensuring they maintain autonomy over their care can be complicated, even more when those patients are minors. It can be difficult, both ethically and practically, to balance communication and decision-making between the patient and their parents or guardian(s).
As a result, pediatric home health workers may wrestle with how to communicate effectively with the patient’s family and with the patient directly, and how to ensure the patient receives the care they need if the parents or guardians have differing beliefs about what’s best for their child.
Supporting Your Pediatric Home Health Workers
Since pediatric home health workers face unique challenges that may threaten their mental health, they also need specialized support to help them cope with the mental, emotional, and physical stress of their jobs.
This support should involve:
- Helping workers understand the challenges they are likely to face
- Enabling workers to recognize and acknowledge when they experience these challenges
- Providing workers with resources to help them work through these challenges in a healthy way
However, simply making resources available won’t be very useful if the workers don’t know they’re available or hesitate to ask for them. Make sure to communicate exactly which resources are available, how to access them, and that workers won’t be penalized for asking for help.
Understanding & Support Are Critical
Pediatric home health care comes with its own set of mental, emotional, and professional challenges. Make sure your staff who specialize in working with children know what to expect and have the support and resources they need to care for both themselves and for their young patients.
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