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Home Health Care: Learning to Love Holland

Natashia Bradbury RN, BSN, MSN, is the Director of the Home Health Care program at Franciscan Hospital for Children. If you have questions, or for more information about our Home Health Care services, please call 617-254-3800 ext. 5501, or email info@fhfc.org.

Child and Home Health Care Nurse

As a Home Health Care professional, you are often asked by family members, medical staff, or others, “What is Home Health Care nursing like?” Our answers vary, and to those who have not had the pleasure of caring for a loved one in their natural environment, what we do is often hard to grasp.

To provide a different perspective, we often give our families a poem that helps to illustrate the experience of caring for and raising a child with a disability…

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“Welcome to Holland” By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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We asked some of our Home Health Care nurses what they love most about “Holland,” or caring for children with disabilities, and they responded:

There is a sense of teamwork that comes with being a Home Health Care nurse that I love. Not only is the child I’m caring for benefitting from my work, but so is the child’s family and so am I. WE are sharing the victories, challenges, tears, and laughs – growing together in the comfort of that child’s home. These moments in turn help me grow as a nurse, a person, a caregiver, a mother and more.”

The children we care for have health issues and disabilities, but they are far more capable than they are given credit for. With great Home Health Care nursing teams, children who cannot hear end up dancing to music, those who can’t walk move themselves with power wheelchairs and some who can’t speak relay messages through their eyes that converse with your soul.

Being there to celebrate birthdays, holidays, new equipment and newly performed tasks that take months of practice is a part of nursing they do not teach you in school, and it’s unique to home care.

For our families who are familiar with raising and/or caring for a child with disabilities, what do you love about “Holland?”

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