Necessity is the Parent of Invention
For parents who have children with medical complexities, even the simplest tasks can pose real challenges to complete. These moms and dads aren’t just resilient, they’re also incredibly creative with the solutions they develop to make day-to-day living easier and more comfortable for their kids and, sometimes, also for themselves as caregivers. VHA client and carer partners were talking about these caregiving “tricks”, and that led to the idea for Parent Home Hacks—an online community that encourages the sharing of home and life hacks among families of children with medical complexities.
“The concept for parenthomehacks.com actually came directly from a client partner who said, ‘hey, I’ve got all these great solutions for parents facing the same challenges as me,
I want to share them!’’’ says Sonia Nizzer, VHA’s research associate and site administrator. “The research further confirmed that this kind of information sharing is not only practical, but also crucial to helping parents feel more connected and less isolated,” she adds.
“As a parent who cared for a child with complex medical needs for over 16 years, I was pretty much left on my own to figure things out regarding day-to-day life hacks,” says Stacey Ryan, VHA’s Client and Carer Liaison. “Unless you’re independently wealthy, you have to get creative because buying all the equipment and modifying every inch of your home can be incredibly expensive. As our daughter got older, for example, bathing her on the second floor of our older home became impossible,” Ryan notes. As they waited for the completion of their accessible condo build, they didn’t want to invest a lot of time or money in a temporary solution. Their hack? “We bought a $20 inflatable pool, parked it in the
living room and bathed her there,” says Ryan. “It would have been great to have Parent Home Hacks to share this kind of information with and also search up other solutions,” she adds.
“This is the first site of its kind in the world that we know of specifically aimed at sharing the hacks of parents and guardians of children with medical complexities. We’re facilitating something that we heard from parents was needed and would be valuable,” says Dr. Sandra McKay, VHA’s Director of ResearPicture8ch. VHA plans to grow the community and the database of hacks by engaging with caregiving circles at children’s hospitals to help spread the word about the site.
The solutions on parenthomehacks.com will cover the spectrum from simple ‘hacks’ to help with sleep or bathing, to more complex, targeted responses to unique challenges for specific circumstances. Hacks can be posted by any parent directly on the site and are then vetted by the administrator and added into the database. Parents can also share as much (or as little) as they’d like about their own circumstances and their children’s condition. Hacks are searchable and filterable by categories such as school, bedroom, stairs, etc. “Our focus ultimately is on the impact we can make by connecting people, their ideas and in building a global community that is, in many ways, still incredibly isolated,” says Nizzer. “It’s an exciting opportunity to bring these parents together and support them in their daily lives as caregivers.”
Visit www.parenthomehacks.com to search ideas, add your own, or share with a caregiving community to help parents of children with complex medical needs.