Home Health Care Nursing
Nurses are unique individuals. Some love the high-stress, fast pace of a hospital or busy clinic, others like the individualized approach of a doctor’s office, and still others like the personal, one-on-one interactions best found in home healthcare. Would you be happy in such a position? Do you have the skills and the temperament?
One of the most important things to consider is the intense responsibility that home healthcare workers face. You’re the only one there to observe the patient and make a diagnosis. You can’t be there 24/7, so you might walk into any situation at any time; a patient who has forgotten to take his meds, who is in distress, who has had a reaction to a drug or treatment. Your assessment skills must be top rate, you don’t have the luxury of not knowing what to do, and above all, you can’t panic.
When you do need support, you must be able to clearly describe the patient’s condition and recommend a course of action for approval. You’re not a doctor, but you’re there. On the spot. You know the patient, his condition, his medications, his vitals, and his wishes. You know how he reacts to care and to stress. The more concise information you can convey to a busy doctor, the better the outcome for the patient.
Can you act independently, make decisions, think fast on your feet? That’s the name of the game for home health workers. Today’s tools, like smartphones and tablets, make it much easier to collaborate with peers than in the past, but you’re still out there on your own most of the time. There’s nobody holding your hand or looking over your shoulder. You have to know what to do and be responsible enough to do it.
One thing a home health nurse should always be mindful of is personal boundaries. Even though you’re there to help, often every day, you are entering someone’s home. It’s important to remember that in order to respect your patient, you must allow them dignity and privacy. You may have to inform, educate, and even counsel family members, and carefully deal with family relationships. Families are never perfect, and long illnesses can be frustrating and strain family finances to the breaking point. Diplomacy is often your saving grace.
If this all sounds like you, home health care might be the perfect career choice. It’s personal, fiercely independent, challenging, and most definitely rewarding. You can build real relationships with patients and ensure that they get personal, consistent care.