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Could you care for a child with complex or special needs?

Sometimes we come across some very special kids, kids who need a very special kind of carer.

Referrals for babies or children who are in or have returned to hospital on ‘social admission’ (meaning they are ready for discharge, however there is no family to discharge them to) are becoming more common.

Sometimes these little ones will have been in hospital most of their lives.

Sadly, they will continue to ‘live’ in hospital, depending on volunteers to cuddle them, until a loving home is found for them with carers who are willing and able to attend to their special needs.

The most common medical needs for children include:

  • Children with a tracheostomy (for airway support).
  • Children who require ventilator support – e.g. a CPAP machine
  • Children who have a stoma and colostomy bag
  • Children who are PEG fed (fed via a tube directly into stomach)

With needs like this, carers would undertake specific training to help them care for the child and are provided with extensive support services.

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) provide training on tracheostomy care along with training to ensure carers can change and clean a stoma and colostomy bag and learn how to use a PEG feeding tube.

And the support doesn’t end there.

As a carer of a child with special needs, you will receive a fortnightly carer payment from the Department of Health and Human Services. Support could also include funding for a night nurse a few times per week, and mental health support for you as the carer. Top-up funding could be accessed for additional support as a cleaner, meals, babysitting etc. The OzChild team are on hand too to provide you with ongoing emotional support.

About you

Could you care?

Due to the complex and often demanding needs of some of these beautiful babies the role of a carer is best suited to a couple where one person ideally does not work fulltime. At times it can be exhausting looking after a child with high medical needs. But that’s not to say a single carer couldn’t cope, so long as you had a strong support network around you.

It might also help if you had a background in nursing, disability, or teaching but this is not a must. As long as you have the confidence to undertake the additional specialised training required to provide the care for these little people.

About your home

Fostering for these babies does usually require more space than the usual foster child. Children with special medical needs often require additional equipment and supplies. Besides a spare bedroom, you will need to have the space to store equipment and supplies for these children, which may include things like IV poles, feeding pumps, heart rate monitor and so on.

Your commitment

The most significant way fostering a special needs child is different is the stress level. These children need constant care above and beyond that of children their same age. At times, babies and very young children with such medical needs require overnight monitoring as a quick response is needed to respond to alarms that will identify when breathing is compromised.

Carers will need to be available to attend regular medical appointments and ideally live within an hour’s drive of the RCH due to complex care conditions like, tracheostomy clinic every two months, PEG clinic etc.

We need carers who can care for these vulnerable babies and children once a month and short term, but we mainly need carers who are willing to care for these little ones long term.

Important to remember

Just like all other babies and children, these kids love interaction, laughs and connection. Music and play are an important part of their every day along with plenty of cuddles and attention.

Just like all children, these little ones just need someone to care.

Find out more

Please give us a call on 03 9695 2221 or drop your contact details below and we will be in touch.

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