What Is Private Duty Nursing?

Understand the Key Services That Pediatric Private Duty Nurses Provide

Children and young adults with specialized healthcare needs can receive excellent treatment at home in a familiar and comfortable setting. Private duty nursing from a home care provider ensures that your child’s needs are completely met.

After a child returns home from the hospital or has experienced a new diagnosis, families begin to strategize where their child’s treatment will occur. Many families choose private duty nursing, so that their child can receive care surrounded by their family.

This form of nursing in the home offers a higher quality of life for the child and offers key support to family members.

In many cases, private duty nurses become honorary members of the family because of their compassionate and vital role in your child’s life. Private duty nursing is a way to ensure your child receives exclusive one-on-one treatment right where they live. This vital service helps families avoid hospitalizations and specialist visits by ensuring there’s always skilled medical professionals nearby.

What Does Private Duty Nursing Include?

A doctor may recommend private duty nursing, so a family gets the assistance they require. Private duty nursing is covered by the Medicaid Child Waiver, private insurance policies, or a family’s private funds (out of pocket).

Depending on your child’s needs, a private duty nursing agency will send nurses to your home to provide one-on-one care including:

  • Injections
  • IV therapy
  • Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)
  • Assisted coughing
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Ventilator management
  • Routine blood draws
  • Medication administration management
  • And much more.

It is important to emphasize, however, that the job of a private duty nurse isn’t just a list of medical services. Private duty nursing is a relationship and a compassionate, collaborative team effort, so your child’s life is as happy and healthy as possible.

An exceptional private duty nursing agency offers many additional services, depending on your child’s circumstances:

  • Skilled therapies, including occupational, physical, and speech therapy
  • Respite care, so family caregivers can receive time away from their care responsibilities when needed
  • Personal care, hygiene care and daily-living needs through specialized caregiver services

The private duty nursing team may also assist with care and enrichment outside the home, including trips to medical appointments, school, Special Olympics, camp, and other activities that benefit your child. Many families are surprised by how thorough and comprehensive private duty nursing can be.

What Are the Benefits of Private Duty Nursing Services?

It is the pediatric private duty nurse’s job to bring treatment and care right to your home. This is the primary benefit that these services offer. We associate our homes with comfort, privacy, safety, and the ability to heal.

For children with specialized healthcare needs, the power of home is even more important. A 2021 study published in Home Health Now identifies several reasons why medical care at home for children is effective when performed by what the study considers a “high-quality” private duty nursing agency:

  • Less complex caregiving responsibilities for family
  • More individualized care
  • Fewer visits to specialists
  • Avoidance of repeat hospitalizations
  • Extra support during emergencies
  • Specific knowledge of specialized medical equipment
  • Support for family caregiver exhaustion
  • Convenient scheduling

The researchers in this study also conducted patient interviews, revealing a great deal about how families feel about their private duty nurse. Two families shared::

  • “[Our nurse] became more than just a nurse…she’s “Grandma”…She’s been with our family so long.”
  • “Having the equipment in place and people who know how to use them has kept [child’s name] out of the hospital because we catch things earlier, and they know how to treat her… I don’t think that without it, she’d be able to stay this healthy. I think she’d wind up in the hospital more frequently because I don’t have the energy to maintain that kind of regimen or focus the nurses provide and bring to the days.”

How Do I Find Private Duty Nursing Services?

When you decide to seek a private duty nurse near you, doing your due diligence is essential. Look for these qualities in a private duty nursing agency:

  • Engaged: They show a genuine interest in more than just your child’s needs. This team sees your child as a whole person, not just a patient.
  • Specialized: Depending on your child’s circumstances, your nurse and other team members are able to find beneficial solutions, and work as an advocate to ensure your child gets the treatment and care they require.
  • Comprehensive: They cover the many services listed above and more, ensuring that your child’s complete set of needs (e.g., social, recreational, educational, etc.).

Learn more about one provider’s approach to private duty nursing, which meets these three important characteristics.

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Wesley Koenig, RN

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