Long Term Care for Children

Pediatric long term care is different from geriatric care. Both may require complex medical care, but many children in nursing homes require extensive support from the very beginning of their lives.

Unlike geriatric residents who were once fully functioning adults, children must also be educated and need support to develop social and life skills.

For the first time, professionals have introduced guidelines to ensure quality long term care for young people.

A 14-member team representing a variety of pediatric disciplines and facilities across the U.S. spent nearly six years developing the guidelines which were presented to more than 180 professionals at the April 2008 conference �Navigating the Care of the Medically Fragile Child� in Atlanta, GA .

�The needs of children in long-term care today are starkly different than those of older adults,� said Ellen O�Gorman, Executive Director of New England Pediatric Care in Massachusetts, and one of the guideline authors. �Most will be dependent on others throughout their lives. These young people need life skills - habilitation �more than rehabilitation.�

Thirty years ago, pediatric homes were populated mostly by individuals with developmental disabilities, O�Gorman said.

As community based-options were developed for those individuals, their beds were filled by children rMonday, September 8, 2008 0:04 AMstaining equipment such as ventilators and feeding tubes and intense therapeutic intervention to survive.

As individuals �age out� of state-funded support in pediatric homes, O�Gorman said the new guidelines will provide a critical framework for determining which adult options will best meet the needs of each individual.

Call Ellen O�Gorman at (978) 667-5123 or email eogorman@nepediatriccare.org