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Technology-dependent children and their families: a review

Publication year
Wang, K. W.; Barnard, A.

BACKGROUND: Advances in medical technology and nursing care have enabled children who rely on long-term medical and technical support to reunite with their families and community. The impact of discharging these children into the community involves a number of unprecedented social implications that warrant policy consideration. To begin with, an effort must be made to understand the phenomenon of caring for technology-dependent children living at home. AIM: The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive literature review on caring for technology-dependent children living at home. METHODS: The review was conducted via keyword searches using various electronic databases. These included CINAHL, MEDLINE, Social Science Index, Sociological Abstracts, Australian Family and Society Abstracts, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The articles and books found were examined for commonality and difference, significant themes were extracted, and the strength of the research methods and subsequent evidence were critiqued. FINDINGS: In this paper, themes relating to home care for technology-dependent children and their families are elucidated and summarized. These are: chronic illness and children; the impact of paediatric home care on children; the uniqueness of technology-dependent children and their families; and parents’ experience of paediatric home care. DISCUSSION: Contentious issues, relevant to the social life of these children and their families, are raised and are discussed with the intention of extending awareness and provoking further debate among key stakeholders. These issues include: the changed meaning of home; family dynamics; social isolation; saving costs for whom?; shifts in responsibility; and parent-professional relationships. CONCLUSION: More research is needed in the arena of paediatric home care, to facilitate relevant policy formation and implementation.

Research abstracts