Nannies and the Mildly Ill Child

One of the advantages of hiring a nanny is that nannies typically provide care for mildly ill children. For parents who can’t make a habit of calling into work sick, knowing that they don’t have to worry about daycare sick policies or that they don’t need to arrange last minute back-up care is a real tangible benefit. Parents who know that their child is well taken care of when they are mildly ill are able to reduce the number of sick days they take, alleviate the stress associated with trying to find back-up childcare, and feel more at ease when staying home to care for their child that does need their care and attention.

What Constitutes Mildly Ill?

While there is no concrete definition of what constitutes a child being mildly ill, most parents know when their child needs to remain in their care and when it’s appropriate to ask their nanny to care for a sick child.

Although parents and nannies should work together to determine when it’s appropriate for their nanny to provide sick care, most nannies will care for a child who has:

  • A low grade fever
  • An ear infection
  • Diarrhea
  • A common childhood illnesses like Hand Foot and Mouth disease (Coxsackie virus)
  • A stomach bug
  • Flu or flulike symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Strep throat and other mild illnesses, once on antibiotics

When a Child Starts the Day Sick

Parents and nannies should regularly communicate about the health of the children. This often means a parent calling or texting their nanny after hours to make her aware an illness has developed. This not only provides the nanny an opportunity to provide any valuable information about the child’s behavior or mood that, in hindsight, could have pointed to a developing illness, it also starts the dialogue for developing the sick care plan for the next day.

Parents and nannies may have a differing of opinion on when it’s appropriate for the nanny to come into work to care for a sick child. If a nanny could become ill herself, for example, she may be less enthusiastic about caring for a child who has the flu. Parents and nannies should work together to determine when it’s appropriate for the nanny to provide care.

If it’s determined that the nanny will provide care, it’s important that a concrete care plan is in place. Should the nanny be required to administer medication, written instructions and permission should be provided. If the nanny will need to schedule a doctor’s appointment or take the child to the doctor’s office, the parents should be sure that there is a medical authorization form on file with the pediatrician’s office and that the pediatrician agrees to allow the nanny to bring the child to his appointment.

When a Child Gets Sick During the Day

Parents and nannies should have a plan in place for when a child becomes ill during the day. This plan should include when to call the parents at work and how to best reach them, when to call the doctor, when to dispense medication, and the necessary permission and instructions to do so.

Nannies should always be encouraged to contact their employer at any time, should they have any concerns about the child’s health and wellness. If the parents know in advance that they cannot easily be reached, the parents should provide clear instructions on what the nanny should do in the event the child becomes ill. Some parents give their nanny permission to call the nurse’s line at the pediatrician’s office or schedule doctor’s appointments should they deem it necessary, and others prefer that they contact their work office and insist that they be tracked down.

For school aged children, parents and nannies should have a plan in place for when the child becomes ill during the school day. Often times the school nurse will call the parents and if the parents can’t be reached, will call the emergency contact, which is often the child’s nanny. For parents who employ nannies for their school aged children, it is important to discuss the nannies role and responsibilities during the hours when the child is in school. If the nanny is required to be available as part of her job description, it should be clear how far the nanny can travel from the home during the school day and what the plan of action should be should the school nurse calls her to pick up the child from school.

When parents and nannies work together to develop a care plan that everyone is comfortable with, the mildly ill child will receive the proper care and attention from whomever is providing care. Having a written nanny and family work agreement that outlines what constitutes when the child is mildly ill is the first step in developing a sick care plan.

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