When you’re caring for a child with complex medical needs, you rely on the latest information. Advancements in care, equipment, and technology can improve health outcomes and greatly impact childhoods.
At Spark Pediatrics, we use a team-based approach to ensure that every child in our care benefits from our collective experience and expertise. As a nursing director with extensive experience in homecare, I saw the potential of prescribed pediatric extended care (PPECs) like ours first-hand and it motivated me to join the team.
PPECs provide a safe, stable environment where children can receive high-quality medical care, therapy, and unparalleled socialization all in one place. Our approach and facilities are designed to help us achieve prescribed goals, while decreasing the risk of medical error. They also provide families with an incredible support system.
The advantages of PPEC over home care:
We provide continuity of care.
Continuity of care is the quality of healthcare delivered over time.1 As the children in our care grow and mature, their healthcare needs grow and change with them. The personalization of care and exchange of information between nurses and the child’s broader care team is vital when addressing their medical needs and how they change over time.2 While all patients require unique and individualized care to maintain a healthy status, it’s particularly critical for post-acute pediatric care patients. Continuity of care has also been shown to improve patient satisfaction and reduce the rates of hospitalizations, including preventable hospitalizations.3
PPECs are inherently designed to personalize their care to each child and where they are in their development. This allows the family and the broader care team to improve and adapt their approach to the patient’s unique medical care. They’re able to forecast and anticipate needs that must be met, develop a plan to meet those needs, and intervene more effectively than traditional homecare where continuity of care is not able to be as strongly emphasized. When you deeply know your patient, you can also assess more efficiently, effectively, and with more urgency when they are no longer within their health equilibrium. This leads to improved outcomes, a safer level of care, and more impactful relationships for everyone involved in the child’s care.
We go beyond nursing.
For children with complex medical needs, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are vital to their healthcare journey. The therapeutic services that PPECs provide often surpass what pediatric patients could receive in the home.
One of the key reasons PPECs help patients progress is through the consistency of the prescribed therapeutic treatments. Consistent therapeutic treatments and a patient’s adherence to these treatments directly affect the quality of their healthcare outcomes.4 In the home care setting, appointments must be made and can be suddenly canceled on a week-to-week basis. A parent may even have to take their child to outpatient therapy centers due to an inability to receive therapy in the home. In many cases, this requires special transportation to be set up days or weeks in advance. Even small scheduling complications can push a patient’s progress back and prevent them from reaching their optimal goals.
With PPECs, the consistency in therapeutic treatments leads to a higher rate of goal achievement and more positive health outcomes. At Spark Pediatrics, we’ve helped patients achieve huge milestones like walking, enhanced balance and gait, oral intake of foods and fluids, speech and language development, improved behaviors and social skills — and much more. Consistently tracking and resetting once they have been achieved ensures that our patients reach their highest potential.
We offer socialization and community.
Another area where PPECs excel is socialization. In traditional homecare, patients don’t get the opportunity to socialize daily with other children or interact with a larger range of adults to provide positive influences. With homecare, they’re assigned a nurse for that day who may or may not know them and may not be able to assist in improving social skills.
PPECs provide structured and unstructured play time, music therapy, and countless other interactions throughout the day with other children with complex medical needs. At Spark Pediatrics, we’ve seen a child begin to take in food and fluid orally because they saw other children in the center do it. One of our centers has even started teaching our children sign language. The ability to explore your environment and build context for your experiences is vital in early childhood.5 Studies also show that play supports the development of brain structure and functionality, plus improves brain plasticity.
PPECs allow children who would otherwise be confined to their home to explore their environment, build reciprocal relationships, and receive critical feedback that leads to positive relationship development. This approach is more holistic than home care, and better supports developmental milestones.
We support caregivers too.
Having a child with complex medical needs that require skilled interventions can be an incredibly challenging experience. Studies have shown that caregivers report significantly greater amounts of parental stress than caregivers of healthy children.6 Parents also carry a significant “caregiving burden” and the demands of performing health care-related tasks increases substantially.7 This kind of stress can interfere with employment, socialization, mental health, and sleep.
Having the ability to have your child be taken care of for 12 hours a day in a PPEC allows for families to maintain employment, decreases the caregiving burden, and provides much-needed respite while benefiting the child. Families can feel confident knowing that their child is safe, receiving high-quality care, and making daily progress in their health and personal development.
The ability for a child to get high-level medical care and therapeutic interventions without leaving the center is a unique benefit that only PPECs can provide.
Choose a leader in PPEC.
PPECs offer a path of stability and progress for children with complex medical needs. At Spark Pediatrics, I am excited to continue to work with our team and families to provide high-quality care and fulfilling childhoods.
- Haggerty JL, et al. "Continuity of care: a multidisciplinary review." BMJ. 2003.
- Gulliford M, et al. "What is 'continuity of care'?" J Health Serv Res Policy. 2006.
- Hofer A, McDonald M. "Continuity of care: why it matters and what we can do." Aust J Prim Health. 2019.
- Martin LR, et al. "The challenge of patient adherence." Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2005.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, 2021.
- Cousino MK, Hazen RA. "Parenting stress among caregivers of children with chronic illness." J Pediatr Psychol. 2013.
- McCann D, et al. "The daily patterns of time use for parents of children with complex needs." J Child Health Care. 2012.