DSCC Partners in Research Study to Improve Home Health Care for Children
“SafeCare@Home4Kids” aims to understand and prevent safety issues at home for children with medical complexity
The Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) is excited to partner on a new research study to help improve home health care for children with complex medical needs.
The research team is led by Dr. Carolyn Foster of Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Foster is one of our Medical Advisory Board Members.
Foster and her research team have received a $2 million grant award to fund the study, called “The SafeCare@Home4Kids Learning Lab: Designing Safer Healthcare at Home for Children.”
This study will bring together experts and patient families to better understand how family caregivers and home nurses can help identify, communicate and prevent safety issues at home for children with complex medical needs. The study will use this input to create a digital safety toolkit to help support families.
DSCC Executive Director Thomas F. Jerkovitz said DSCC appreciates this opportunity to partner in the study. He said DSCC will share our team’s experiences with families and home nurses who report safety challenges at home.
Dr. Molly Hofmann, our Director of Care Coordination, Systems Development and Education, is one of the participating experts.
“DSCC plays such a pivotal role in supporting care in the home and… is a repository for safety events,” Foster said. “DSCC also plays such a functional role in creating solutions, so it was pretty clear to me I wanted to have DSCC be a partner in the grant.”
Children with medical complexity need substantial amounts of care to live safely at home. In recent years, their families have taken on increasingly more in-depth medical care at home.
“We send patients home with increasingly more complex medical regimes, and families have expressed to us they didn’t have a clear way to get the support they need when experiencing problems at home,” Foster said.
“A lot of our patients have an artificial airway to help them breathe or they have a g-tube in their stomach to help them eat. If that gets clogged or it falls out or the tubing connected to the machine gets broken, then they can’t get the nutrition they need and they end up in the emergency room. And it’s a life-threatening event at home if their airway isn’t working,” Foster continued. “The idea for the study is we want to find out what are the things leading up to when those safety events occur so we can prevent them.”
“SafeCare@Home4Kids” also wants to help improve communication when medical device and equipment malfunctions happen at home.
“Doctors don’t always know, and families might not know that they should or can tell us about it. They might tell the DME (durable medical equipment company) to get the replacement part, but we don’t know about it, so we keep ordering it for other patients,” Foster said. “It’s both an issue for current patients and also an issue for future patients.”
The study aims to create a better system where families can communicate safety problems at home and know who to notify when they occur.
“One of the problems we recognize is families are scared they’re going to get in trouble. We want to make sure they feel supported to let us know when medical problems are happening at home,” Foster said. “The goal is to move past the reporting safety events to preventing them in the first place.”
The study will also host focus groups to hear directly from families about the safety issues that affect them.
“The goal is to hear from real families on what it’s like day-to-day,” Foster said. “Hopefully it’s the beginning of several projects to support how we’re improving care in the home.”
If you are a family member and would like to participate or learn more about the “SafeCAre@Home4Kids” study, you can email Foster at email@example.com.
We are excited to collaborate with Foster and her research partners on this important project. We’ll share more updates and opportunities to get involved as it progresses.
The project kicked off in September and will continue through July 31, 2027.