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Being A Nurse For Children With Special Care Needs
The Best Nursing Position Ever
As I walked up to the front door of a house I had never been to before, I was anticipating a new challenge, another assignment that I wanted. As the door opened, I was greeted not only by the lady who is the Mom, yet a little girl with glasses, double hearing aids and a tracheotomy greeted me with her arms wide open, ready to jump into mine. Was it my smile? Was it the pretty colors I was wearing? I find it amazing that a child who is deaf and only four years old could have the ability to sense that I was to be her new companion in whom she could trust. I instantly had gained a new friend on that day. The Mom was very receptive as well, and did not hesitate to let me know that I was hired for the job. I am to attend school with her newly adopted daughter to assure her respiratory ease, and to make sure her artificial airway stays intact.
I am a licensed practical nurse, and I prefer to take care of young children and young adults who were born with birth defects, birth injuries, after birth complications, and to assist their families. I either take care of them in their private home or in their schools. The conditions that these young people are born with could be cerebral palsy, respiratory deficiencies, chromosomal defects, dwarfism, brittle bones, seizures, muscular distrophy, or heart defects. They could also have behavioral disorders like ADHD, or autism.
I have heard the phrase, it takes a special person to take care of special needs. I believe that not every nurse is cut out for it. I used to joke to myself about it, and I called it "glorious babysitting". As a Christ centered person, I know that taking care of a child is the greatest opportunity to show God's kindness and bring good will to those I have the privilege to care for.. Each child is different and deserves a place in this world. The smiles and expression of love that comes from these special individuals lets me know I am doing a good job. And the feedback from the families can be very rewarding.
Continuity Of Care
I have been taking care my client for three and a half years now. She is now a young adult who is quite stable and because her caregivers schedules are constant, she is doing very well. She has multiple physical challenges and I have been guided well by her mom in providing the same care that she gives to her. Sometimes there are challenges to face, but they are only minor ones. It is so nice that I know I am employed for "life" to take care of this one. The support I give to her parents and brother is constant as well.
I have fun with my client. It is not all medical care or nursing procedures and providing nutritional needs by tube feeding. We read books, do art projects, watch all the latest and greatest movies, listen to the best music and socialize with the family. I even bring my laptop to her house once a week, when her mom allows, and I read to her from the hub pages. Around the holiday time we make decorations and greeting cards. She signs each card "hand over hand". My favorite time also is beauty spa treatment day. I become the beautician. Her mom is always impressed when she gets her pedicures, manicures, and hair braided.
School Nursing For Special Needs
I have a more limited assignment only during the school months. I am pretty competent with the manner of which I function in our local school system. It is more formal than that of private nursing in the home. I am still considered "private duty" whereas I have to go everywhere with the special needs student, including rides on the school bus. My most enjoyable and easiest school assignment was with a high school student with an artificial air way called a tracheotomy. He also had ADHD and a growth disorder making him almost 7 feet tall at the age seventeen. To assure that his tracheotomy stayed patent and intact was my only necessity there and to be ready for any emergency, including Cardio-Pulmonary-Resusitation or reinsert his trach if need be. Of course, I never had to do that but everywhere I went, so did his special suitcase with his supplies and equipment.
On this particular assignment, which I had for two school years with this teenager, I even got to go to his work study assignments, where he got a chance to work in the retail industry. I followed him around in the hardware and discount dollar stores where he was trained to stock shelves and count inventory. I even got to go on field trips with the young man. All at the same time, I rest assured that he continually kept an open airway.
When I go on the assignment with the new little girl who is hearing impaired, it will be to a special needs preschool. She will do all the normal things a preschooler will do in a school setting. Of course, I will make sure she continues to have a patent , intact airway and that there will be no complications. To communicate with a child in this age range is truly fun and challenging. I enjoy playing with preschoolers! And if the preschooler is not feeling well, it is important to show the nurturing kindness that shows acceptance and approval.
IF IT WAS NOT DOCUMENTED, IT WAS NOT DONE
What makes my job as a nurse legitimate is documentation of my care to my client. What they said in nursing school is true, "If it was not documented, it was not done." How could any nurse prove their activity with the client except to document. I feel this is the best feature in my professional role. I feel that thorough documentation is necessary, not as a communication tool between caregivers, it helps plan for the future care of the client. What works best for one child is different for another. Each and everyone is unique in their own way.
First, based on my training, I do head to toe assessment. Being able to identify what's going on with each part of the body gives a clear picture to how the child is going to feel that day. Periodic reviews are expected throughout my shift. Then, noting all my expected tasks based on what is ordered my the Doctor is documented. Again, "If it wasn't documented, it wasn't done" applies. I really need to be on my toes on the time clock though; learning to find time to document while having fun with the child can be a challenge too.
"BE A NURSE. YOU'LL ALWAYS HAVE A JOB."
Thank you, Mom and Dad! When I was starting the Senior year of high school, I really had the idea that I wanted to be a special education teacher. At that time, I was told by my parents that they were laying off teachers, and my parents did not want me to struggle to keep a steady job. So Daddy said, "Be a nurse. You'll always have a job."
I started out first, in the Rehabilitation Centers and Long Term Care Facilities for the elderly. I wasn't afraid to take care of old people. A few years later, after the birth of my children, I decided to work as a PRN staff nurse, so I could choose my own hours, and pick my desired assignments. That is when I discovered Private Duty for special needs children. Even when I chose to go back to the care of the elderly, I jumped right back to the care of the young.
I really feel that being a nurse was what the Lord called me to be. I couldn't do anything else. I really love what I profess to be- a Special Needs Nurse. And I think that the special needs children love me to be who I show them I am- JUST ME!
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