Until 25 years ago, there were limited options for long-term mechanical ventilation of children, and the majority of children were cared for in hospitals. However, with improving technology, the pediatric intensive care unit has moved from the hospital to a home setting, as children with increasingly complex healthcare needs are now often cared for by family members. One of the most complex care conditions involves ventilator and tracheostomy support. Advanced respiratory technologies that augment natural respiratory function prolong the lives of children with respiratory compromise; however, this care often comes with serious risks, including respiratory muscle impairment, respiratory failure, and chronic pulmonary disease. Both non-invasive assisted ventilation and assisted ventilation via tracheostomy can prolong survival into adulthood in many cases; however, mechanical ventilation in the home is a high-stakes, high risk intervention. Increasing complexity of care over time requires perpetual skill training of family caregivers that is delivered and supported by professional caregivers; yet, opportunities for additional training outside of the hospital rarely exist. Recent data has confirmed that repetitive caregiver education is essential for retention of memory and skills in adult learners. This study analyzes the use of continued education and training in the community for family caregivers of ventilator-dependent children diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
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