When we hear “nursing homes,” or “nursing facilities,” the mind seems to instantaneously turn to the elderly generation. However, nursing homes are becoming a popular means of care for disabled children. If you are expecting, or know you are at risk for, a child with disabilities, then you need to know what that will entail.
Care for a disabled child is exceedingly expensive and demanding. The situation is this: Medicaid, the service for people below a specified income level, also serves those who are disabled. However, state and federal governments lack proper funding for the equipment and personnel to facilitate at-home care for everyone that needs it. So, parents whose income does not qualify their child for Medicaid are left with two options. One, pay out-of-pocket for at-home medical assistance. Two, institutionalize the child into an adult or child nursing home.
As of 2000, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services estimated that around 5,000 children were living in nursing homes; that number, one can assume, has grown in the last 11 years. One reason this dilemma has become so prevalent is that medical advances have extended the life-span of children with disabilities. And, unfortunately, the choice to place a child in a nursing home is far from ideal, but some parents are left with no other choice; they simply cannot give their child the round-the-clock care he/she needs. Regardless, parents should know that the following:
Adult Nursing Homes Were Established For Adults
When thought and planning went into establishing any given adult nursing facility, it was under the assumption that adults would be living there. For one thing, medical care (e.g. medicines, medicine administration, etc.) for children is substantially different from medical care for adults. For another, staff at adult facilities, more times than not, have experience working with adults, not children. Therefore, the overall environment of an adult nursing facility may not be one that is necessarily positive for a child.
Children Run the Risk of Abuse at the Hands of Employees and Fellow Patients
Regardless of whether the institution is for children or adults, children are at risk for physical abuse (i.e. sexual abuse, neglect, assault, etc.) and medical errors. Children in general are vulnerable to abuse, add to the mix a disabled child living away from their loved ones, and that helplessness seems even more rampant.
In 2007, People Magazine published stories about two autistic preteens in nursing home care; both were killed after being abused and restrained by nursing aides.
In 2010, a single Chicago nursing facility was linked to 13 child deaths; staff ignored the children’s medical needs, allowed them to live in unsanitary conditions, and overmedicated them.
Ensure that Your Child’s Care is Adequate
Thoroughly research your options in advance. Will you choose a children’s nursing home or a seniors’ nursing home? How much can you financially afford for your child’s care?
Use your available resources. For example, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has an office for childcare resources, called the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center.
Visit potential facilities, ask important questions, and observe the facilities’ conditions. What is the nurse/aide to patient ratio? Do staff members, including cooks, cleaners, etc., undergo background checks before being hired? Is the staff friendly? How many doctors are on staff? Is the facility clean? Do there appear to be any safety hazards?
After choosing a facility, stay actively involved. Check on your child routinely to ensure that their care is sanitary and sufficient, and that they are living in a positive environment.
Amy Shoemaker is a guest post and article writer bringing to us her thoughts on the dangers relating to nursing home abuse.
Additionally, Amy writes about this subject for www.nursinghomeabuse.net.