When people think of home health care, they mainly consider the needs of the elderly or the disabled. However, there is a federal program available in every state that provides in home care to children with disabilities as well as those who are at high risk for developing disabilities or falling behind their peers developmentally and socially.
Early Intervention can provide speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and social play therapy for any children who are shown to be lagging on developmental test between the ages of 4 months and 3 years old. Often doctors will refer their young patients to Early Intervention if they have any concerns, but sometimes a parent who is concerned and doesn't feel like he or she is being taken seriously will refer themselves.
Once an infant or toddler has been screened for Early Intervention and is found to be eligible, the program will begin sending the child's therapists to the house on a regular basis to work on whatever skills the child is lacking or is at risk for losing. Early Intervention bills a client's insurance company just as any other home health care company would do. This includes both private insurance and Medicaid.
This form of home health care is wonderful for parents who are already stretched thin between work, other children, and now a child who has special needs. By coming to the home, instead of requiring that the children are brought to a central office, children are more likely to be seen on a regular basis. It also gives the in home health therapists to get an idea of how a child lives from day to day so that he or she can point out ways for the child's parents to improve on areas when the therapists are not in the home.
In addition to that, many children are much more comfortable in their own homes and tend to actually do better in therapy when the home care physical, speech, or occupational therapist come to work with the child. Having their own toys to play with in familiar surroundings can ease that 'warm up' period that would normally happen when being taken to a new office. Also, when a parent sees an exercise done on their own couch or floor, it can help reinforce how easy it is for them to continue to work with their child between therapist visits.
When a child turns three years old, the in home health care of the Early Intervention program stops. At this time, children who continue to need therapy are transitioned to preschool so that they can receive the therapies they need. The state is required to provide therapy through the school system for any child who needs it from the age three, until they are adults.