Noncompliance is one of the most common obstacles to effective medical treatment. When you’re working with children, the situation becomes even more complicated, as they might not understand their situation or possess the resources and emotional maturity that are needed to care for themselves. If you’re a nurse providing pediatric home care, the following guidelines will help ensure the patient follows their doctor’s medical advice.
How to Encourage Kids to Comply With Their Doctor’s Care Plan
1. Consider the Patient’s Side of the Story
Ask the patient open-ended questions to get them to open up about the obstacles they face. It’s okay to show concern, but do your best to seem non-judgemental.
Don’t use accusatory “you” statements like, “You didn’t take the medication every day, and that’s why you’re sick today.” This can make the patient feel badly about themselves, which will only perpetuate the problem. Instead, use “we” or “I” to show the patient you want to help and the two of you are on this journey together.
2. Use Child-Friendly Language
Are you sure the patient understands their care plan and instructions? You might need to rephrase the doctor’s guidelines using language that’s more accessible to kids.
For example, if a child has epilepsy, don’t use medical terminology—instead, use age-appropriate descriptions that are tied to tangible outcomes. Be honest about what will happen if they don’t follow their doctor’s instructions, but keep the tone upbeat. Focus on how much better things will be with the appropriate care.
3. Recommend Concrete Solutions
Kids respond well to positive reinforcement. Work with the child’s caregivers to come up with a consistent routine and reward good behavior. Recommend a sticker chart, for example, or a medication management app that will help track a dosing schedule.
4. Promote a Sense of Autonomy
It’s common for patients to feel powerless in the face of a serious or long-lasting illness. Empower your patient to become involved in their own treatment. Explain the steps you take to care for them and ask questions to encourage their interest.
If you can, make a game out of your pediatric home care appointments. You can ask the patient to guess what you need to do next or how to perform a vitals check, for example.
5. Check In Frequently
Ask the patient what you can do differently to better support them. You might be surprised to learn a simple change, like repositioning a pillow, can make them more comfortable. Whenever you work directly with a patient, be respectful of their input and try to incorporate it into your services.
6. Talk to Their Family & Support Network
Does the family have the resources needed to comply with the doctor’s instructions? For example, can they afford the prescribed medication? There could be external factors that affect the patient’s ability to follow through with their care plan. Depending on the family’s circumstances, they could qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
The key to helping young patients comply is to practice patience and compassion. For more guidance on pediatric home care, visit the J&D Ultracare blog and website. Serving families throughout the Bronx and Hudson Valley, including Westchester County, White Plains, and Orange County, NY, the firm partners with skilled registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Call (845) 357-4500 today to learn more about employment opportunities in pediatric home care.