Home healthcare services continue to expand within the healthcare industry as demands for skilled nursing care options increase. There are many reasons for this phenomenon including a rapidly aging number of Americans aged 65 and older who will require more health care, a lack of capacity in nursing care facilities, and the need to find affordable healthcare options to provide patient care services. Therefore, it is no surprise that more nurses are finding employment through health agencies to provide palliative care, post-surgical assistance, wellness checks, caregiver education, dietary and nutrition advice, medication monitoring and treatment procedures to patients in their homes.
How Home Healthcare Nursing Works
While being in the home environment may yield many benefits for the recovery or treatment process, patients and caregivers can also feel apprehensive about being on their own. This is where a healthcare nurse can provide assistance and reassurance by answering questions about doctor’s orders, medications, treatments or disease symptoms. In accordance with insurance and medical law, home care providers must follow a care plan that describes anticipated services and documents the patient’s condition over time. Care plans typically include the following activities:
- Completing intake paperwork and conducting an initial physical assessment
- Assessing environmental issues, such as furniture placement or throw rugs, that could impede patient mobility or recovery
- Educating patients and caregivers about care procedures, nutrition and pain management
- Providing support and feedback for social-emotional issues affecting recovery
- Noting improvements or declines in the patient since the last visit
- Lifting, turning or moving patients
- Administering injections, taking vital signs, and completing medical procedures such as setting up IV lines, changing bandages or inserting catheters
- Making referrals for physical or occupational therapy based on patient progress or concerns
- Calling in social workers or hospice providers to deal with family or psychological issues related to recovery or illness
- Completing discharge paperwork when the recovery or treatment process is finished
Qualifications for Becoming a Home Health Nurse
Home care nurses need to hold a nursing degree and be licensed to work as a registered nurse in their state. For patient protection, employers may also require home care nurses to pass medical screenings and drug tests. Job candidates must also hold a valid driver’s license for self-transportation to patient homes. Other important qualities for home health nurses include having strong time management skills, being self-directed, possessing excellent written and oral communication skills, being physically fit to deal with job demands, and being able to get along with people from all walks of life.
Home care services provide many benefits to patients and nurses alike. For the patient, advantages of healing at home under supervised nursing care include reducing the risk of infections from other patients or hospital procedures, enjoying sound sleep and rest in a comfortable environment, maintaining social interactions in familiar surroundings with loved ones, and feeling more in control of the recovery process. Nurses, on the other hand, benefit from earning salaries commensurate with peers in comparable nursing positions, building meaningful relationships with patients and families, and enjoying the job flexibility associated with working as independent visiting nurses. As a result, working in the home healthcare profession is an increasingly popular choice for many registered nurses.