Home health nurses provide care in the community to the elderly, injured, or vulnerable people. They assist patients with their day-to-day needs and help the patient’s family by administering medication, wound care, and monitoring the healing process. The level of care provided to patients varies depending on their health and condition and their age, injury, or illness.
Home care nurses will look after an ill or disabled person and offer personal care or travel to different homes to care for various patients. The patients may be recovering after an operation or suffering from a chronic health condition or disability. Many people prefer to stay in their own homes as they age instead of moving into a care facility. Let’s look at the role of a home health care nurse and find out how to get into this expanding health care field.
Home health nurses offer individualized care in the home and take on various responsibilities depending on the patient’s needs. Here are some of the primary tasks that a home health care nurse will carry out daily in accordance with their job description:
Home care nurses offer vital support to patients and provide respite for the caregiver or family members. One of the primary responsibilities these nurses have is to access patients and check their vital signs. They also observe patients and look out for behavioral changes or reactions to medications.
Home care nurses are required to report their findings and observations frequently to the patients’ doctor as well as to family members. They will inform physicians by writing a report after each visit. The report will detail whether or not the patient has started to develop new symptoms or if their health seems to be declining.
Every day is different for a home care nurse. The job may involve checking a bedridden patient for signs of muscle weakness and bed sores. These nurses also identify and resolve care issues and make recommendations to the patients’ doctors about possible changes to the patient’s medication or care plan.
While home care nurses don’t prescribe medication, they are licensed medical professionals, which means they can administer prescribed drugs to their patients. They can also put patients on an intravenous drip as long as the patient’s physician has prescribed them. They can change the dose of a patient’s medication as long as they first consult the doctor and get approval.
The main reason people decide to have a home health care nurse rather than going into a care facility is that they want to stay in their own home as long as possible. Older adults like to remain independent but can often get lonely. A home care nurse allows patients to get the care they need so that they can comfortably stay at home. While the nurse’s central role is to provide for the patients’ needs and take care of their physical health, they will also provide companionship and care for patients’ emotional and mental health. A relationship is formed between the nurse and patient, and they often enjoy communicating with each other and form a bond.
Communication is vital as many patients only see and speak to their nurse regularly. This is why the nurse must ensure the lines of communication are kept open at all times.
The home health care nurse is responsible for communicating with doctors and other health care professionals such as an occupational therapist or physical therapist. They must be flexible and able to vary the care provided based on changes in the patient’s condition and care or pain management plans offered by health care workers.
Home health nurses are responsible for discussing the patient’s condition and care with the family or caregiver. They listen to any concerns that arise and update the family on the patient’s condition.
Home health nursing can be an unpredictable job. While every day is slightly different, and most nurses like the variation this brings, if you step back and look at the position overall, there is a certain rhythm to the days. Here are some other things you may like to consider when deciding whether a career as a home health nurse is right for you:
Home health nurses don’t have to go to a hospital or doctor’s office at the beginning of the day. They just get in their car and drive to the patient’s home. This means that their vehicle acts as a mobile office, and they have to take all the supplies they are likely to need with them. Working in this capacity means the nurse must be organized and have the technology, paperwork, and office supplies in their car.
Most home care nurses will also keep additional items in their car in case plans change which often happens.
Home health care nurses shoulder a greater responsibility than nurses working in a hospital environment. They are required to connect with their patients, which can sometimes be tricky, and provide the necessary health care services. Records must be kept up to date, and reports sent to doctors and other health care professionals.
While there is a lot of responsibility, a career as in home health nursing also offers more freedom. Nurses working in hospitals have a supervisor and a strict schedule to adhere to. Home health care nurses are more flexible, and while they do have an agenda, they can use their own initiative and are required to work independently.
Patients are constantly changing, which means home health nurses always meet new people and travel to different locations within their local area. They will also encounter many different health conditions. The job allows the nurses to expand their knowledge regularly. They will also be able to refine their nursing skills and interpersonal skills.
It can be rewarding watching patients heal and recover. A home health care nurse will often visit patients in their own homes for a few weeks or months as they recover from an injury or surgery. Nurses see their patients for longer than they would in a hospital and can build a friendly rapport with them.
As home health nurses see their patients in their own homes, they can assess their patients in a more relaxed setting. This can be helpful as it allows nurses to pinpoint the service the patient may need and tailor their care to meet the patient’s need. Home care nurses will also be able to see first-hand the positive impact they’ve had on their patient’s life.
Home health nurses are always on the go and need to be confident in their abilities as they work without the benefit of colleague’s knowledge. They are required to operate independently. Many nurses enjoy this challenge and are able to communicate effectively with a variety of patients from different backgrounds. They need to utilize their problem-solving skills and be observant to deliver the proper health care in an unfamiliar environment.
While home health care nurses need to be confident and independent, they will also collaborate with doctors and other health care professionals. These nurses operate on the front line but are also part of the patient’s health care team and can contact medical professionals for further advice. They will fill in a report about the patient’s progress after every visit.
Home health care nurses are sometimes employed to provide long term care for the elderly or disabled. They help to gives families a break and provide peace of mind. Sometimes nurses will be required to stay over during the night to care for the patients.
While most home care nurses visit patients in their own homes, some are employed by a home care service which also offers phone or video links to discuss health care concerns with patients and provide care or advice.
While home health care is a gratifying field, nurses can find themselves in some challenging situations. Sometimes there are uncontrollable factors that challenge nurses and must be overcome.
Home health care nurses often find that they need to navigate a home that’s unkempt or cluttered. Sometimes patients that are struggling with their mobility don’t have the correct safety equipment installed. If a bathroom can’t accommodate a wheelchair, the nurse may end up putting their own safety at risk by using improper transfer techniques, which could result in injury to the nurse or patient.
Home health care nurses are often required to give patients an injection or IV infusion. If a sharps container isn’t available in the patient’s room, the nurse will have to walk to another room or even to the car to dispose of the needle after administering the medication. Sometimes there will be no disposal access, and the nurse will need to recap the needle to dispose of it later. Recapping a needle can be dangerous and may result in needlestick injuries.
Sometimes, patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s can become confused, angry, agitated, or even violent. Some patients don’t like strangers coming into their homes and don’t understand that the nurses are trying to help.
The problems can be challenging for nurses who are working alone to deal with, and the risk can increase if the nurse needs to give the patient an injection, for example, which would cause pain.
Home health nurses don’t have the support of colleagues to help calm patients and stop confrontations from escalating. It’s crucial that the nurse stays safe and remains calm. Any safety concerns or suspicious activity must be reported.
Home health care is an excellent field to get into as the industry is constantly expanding. More people choose to stay in their own homes as they age, and there is a need for home health nurses. Nurses can therefore enjoy greater job security than many professions.
There are also many choices when it comes to working as a home health nurse as there’s the option of specializing in chronic illnesses, elderly care, or rehabilitation care. Home care nurses and nursing aids work for either a medical facility or are employed by an agency. The job outlook for home health care nurses looks bright, and it’s estimated that there will be a 15-percent growth rate in the next ten years, which is higher than for most other careers.
America has an aging population which means there’s likely to be more opportunities for nurses, nursing aides, and home health care workers. This is because the Baby Boomers’ generation is starting to retire and age, creating more demand for home care.
Many medical facilities and agencies that employ home care nurses have seen an increase in demand for home care since the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and nursing homes became overwhelmed during the pandemic. The families of elderly people wanted to keep their relatives at home to reduce the likelihood of catching the virus.
The demand for home care has significantly risen since the pandemic, so there are more opportunities than ever before to get into home health care, either as a nurse or as a nursing assistant or health aide.
The number of patients cared for by a home health nurse varies depending on the nurse’s job description and what type of health care facility or agency the nurse is employed by. Most home health care nurses will see between seven and nine patients a day, while others provide round-the-clock care and only look after one patient in each shift.
Most commonly, home health nurses work eight-hour shifts and will visit eight or nine households to provide care for the patients in their own homes.
Home care nurses are required to study for a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which will allow them to become a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner. The degree is generally studied full time and will take four years to complete. Nurse’s training involves a mixture of theory learned in the classroom and hands-on clinic experience gained during work experience.
The program includes classes in a wide range of subjects from anatomy to biology, physiology, and chemistry. There may also be some liberal arts courses, psychology classes, and you’ll be taught skills such as leadership and communication, which are required for all types of nursing work.
Bachelor’s degrees in nursing require that practical placements are completed, supervised in a clinical environment. After completing a nursing degree, you’ll need to do further study and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which will give you a license that allows you to work in-home care. To study for and sit the examination, you’ll need to get in touch with the licensing board in your state.
Nurses can also enter the profession at a higher level by completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) have many options after graduating and can also work in-home care. They can perform all duties of a registered nurse practitioner and are qualified for more extensive tasks such as ordering tests and evaluating the results. They can also refer patients to other medical specialists, treat minor ailments and make diagnoses.
After graduating, a national certification exam will need to be passed before nurses can enter employment. Requirements for the examination vary depending on varying state rules set by the National Council of State Boards for Nursing. In many states, professional development and advanced practice certificate renewal is required every couple of years.
A career in home health care can also be pursued by first training as a nurse assistant or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Many people first work as a practical nurse or personal care aide before attending nursing school to become a licensed practical nurse.
Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) work as unlicensed care assistance and can perform basic care tasks. They can help patients take care of their personal health and chance dressings but cannot administer medication. To become a nurse assistant, you’ll need to study for and pass a certification which will allow you to provide skilled nursing care.
Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) and also known as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), these roles are similar to nursing assistance. An LPN must complete an accredited nursing program and pass a test to get their licensure. After completing a nursing program, the LPN will be able to perform skilled care.
Home health nurses require a unique set of qualities and the right personality for the job. Those who are independent and able to work on their own initiative will do well in this career. Home health care nurses must be confident in their own nursing abilities as they won’t have a team of medical staff on hand to help out when things get difficult.
They also need to be confident meeting and talking to various people and taking a role as a patient advocate. This means they need to be able to access the patient and call the doctor if the patient’s condition is deteriorating or hasn’t improved as much as it should have done.
Home care nurses also need to be compassionate and willing to listen. They will work not only with patients but also communicate with and support the patient’s family or caregiver. Nurses must arrange their visits around patients’ schedules. The job also involves educating patients, so nurses need to assume a leadership and teaching role. Home health nurses often need to be creative when teaching or delivering information.
There are many benefits of becoming a home health care nurse as it’s a very rewarding career that allows you to make a difference in your patients’ lives. Working in home care allows people to be more flexible and independent in their nursing practice. Home health nurses are often able to develop a more personal relationship with their patients, particularly those they are caring for long term. This gives them the freedom to get to know the patients and their families. Close bonds generally aren’t formed in a hospital setting.
Nurses also work one to one with each patient. They can take their time and teach the patient self-care skills that allow for greater independence. People who have a passion for helping others and want to enable patients to look after themselves will find this area of health care very rewarding.
Many home health care nurses are employed through a home care agency which means they have greater control over their own schedule. As long as all visits are completed on the correct day and thorough care is provided, the nurse can plan her schedule on a daily or weekly basis. This allows the nurse to take lunch when they like or schedule in personal appointments or activities when they need to.
Home health care nurses have an average annual salary of $77,191. About half of all home health nurses earn more than this amount, with many earning slightly less. Generally, salaries range from $70,00 to $85,00. The pay depends on the type of home care provided, the employer, and industry trends. The highest-paid home health care nurses earn up to $92,000 annually.
Nurses have to invest a lot of time and money into their education. Becoming a home health care nurse involves passion and dedication as you’ll need to do additional study. Experienced nurses work on the front line and are a valuable asset to the health care organization they work for. Generally, home health care nurse’s salaries increase with experience. After ten years of experience has been gained, the salary will likely remain level.
A recent graduate starting out in their career is likely to earn between $60,00 and $72,000 annually. A mid-career home care nurse with five years of experience will make between 76,000 and $81,000. Those with ten years or more experience can expect to be earning between $77,000 and $81,000 annually.
Nurses employed by a home care agency may be able to make extra money by taking on more home visits. This allows them to increase their salaries without having to work 12-hour shifts, as nurses in hospitals often do.
Home health care nurses are generally employed by medical clinics or an agency. They may work in conjunction with a clinic or hospital or be employed through a private clinic.
Although the nurses are employed by a home health agency or medical facility, they work with patients in their own homes. They provide treatment that can be done at home, including changing dressings, administrating medication, and giving patients an IV drip.
Home health care nurses usually have to report to a medical facility to receive assignments. They’ll be told which patients to visit and will be able to view the patients’ medical records. They will then drive to the patients’ homes and provide the necessary care as detailed in a care plan written by a physician.
Some home care nurses are privately employed by the families of people who are elderly or disabled and require round-the-clock care. A travel nurse can also be employed by charities such as the Red Cross.
There is high demand for home health care nurses across America. Some states such as Florida have a high senior population that requires care as many elderly people move to Florida when they retire.
Home health care is becoming a popular option as the elderly would rather stay in their own home than move to a care facility. A career in home health care can be undertaken in any state.
Home health nursing is a rewarding career that many people find satisfying. You’ll be able to help make a difference in patients’ life, can organize your own schedule, and work independently. There are various ways to provide nursing care; you can complete a nursing degree and do further training or do on the job training to become a nurse assistant or vocational nurse.
Many people feel that they have a calling to become a nurse. The health care industry is ever-expanding and has a variety of roles available from nursing home administrator, nurse researcher, home health aide, registered nurse, to occupational therapy . A home health care nursing job is excellent for anyone who’s confident about their nursing abilities and can work on their own initiative.