Home Care Nurse

Home health care is providing care to patients and families to maintain dignity and independence in the course of illness. Home care is a form of health service where the intensive care is provided inside the patient’s residence. With this field in nursing, patients are due to receive optimum care even with the absence of family members. The main responsibility of a home care nurse is to give services to a patient to promote, maintain or restore a patient’s health and reduce the effects of an illness or disability.

According to the data obtained from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of home care nurses is predicted to increase by about 50% through 2018. Based on National Association for Home Care’s statistics report, the number of sick individuals in need of a home nurse care service exceeds 7 million. More to that these individuals have been noted with long term problems, permanent debility or terminal illness. Hence, the special skills of a home care nurse are indeed sought-after.

The history of home care nursing roots down from the existence of Public Health Nursing where nursing professionals are organizing community visits to promote information on health and provide treatment in an outreach program. With the arising need for such services, academic programs are made available to specifically train nurses to provide care in the homes of ailing individuals and their families. Placement of home health care nurses in client residences is made by agencies. The nurse is assigned to a care for a specific patient considering the clinical background and qualifications. Referral systems usually occur in agencies affiliated with an academic institution.

The need for services provided by home health care nurses is increasingly in demand due to the following reasons:

  1. Shorter inpatient stays and the long-term in-house rehabilitative care. Most patients opt to receiving care and promoting recovery in the comfort of their homes. Clientele preferences led to the expanding requests to the expertise of home health care industry.
  2. Demographic changes and booming population of elder population.
  3. Follow-up home care always takes place with every medical outpatient procedure performed.
  4. Escalating occurrence of chronic illnesses.

Recently, there are some changes in the field of home care nursing. Inclusive of the agreeable changes that occurred are the addition of the following:

  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Long-term care insurance reimbursement
  • Documentation

How to Become a Home Health Care Nurse

To become a home care nurse education and training from an accredited nursing school should be done firsthand. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (AND) qualifies someone to practice health care within the bounds of a patient’s home. The former education takes about 4 years while the latter roughly 2 to 3 years to complete. However, gaining a degree in Nursing offers more opportunities in pursuing career advancement to administrative positions. In addition, a Masters in Nursing program is required for advanced practicing nurses. Aside from Masters Degree, specialized nurses requires at least 2 years of post clinical experience. Inclusive course subjects are the following:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Behavioral science
  • Liberal arts

Trainings provided in the program are specialized in these areas:

  • Nursing homes
  • Public health departments
  • Home health agencies
  • Ambulatory clinics

Continuing education is not a choice for home care nurses. Whether working in a hospital, rural health unit or home care further training is required due to the rapid change in the systems involved in the industry. Also, keeping in current with latest developments augments the quality of care provided to the ailing individuals. Although universities offer continuing education programs, one can opt to online courses for a more versatile class schedule.

Services provided by home health care nurse are specialized to care for young children and adults debilitated by injuries and diseases, to postpartum women and rendering palliative care for elderly with chronic illness. Hence, complex skills are required to become one, which includes the following:

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Autonomous decision-making
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Assessment
  • Documentation

Roles and Responsibilities of a Home Care Nurse

The gamut of treatments, support and client education a home care nurse provides requires an array of specialized care and experiences. The main goal of home care is to provide client needs while enjoying the comforts of staying in home despite of illness and debility. The health care duties of a home care nurse are the listed below:

  • Monitoring patient’s vital signs.
  • Assist patient in performing exercises and body stretching required for full recovery.
  • Perform basic health care procedures such as wound care and therapeutic massage as necessary.
  • Monitors heath care equipment used in home settings.
  • Documents interventions implemented. They chart and report findings directly to the physician.
  • Supervises home health aides.
  • Administers medication per doctor’s order.

Image Courtesy of easethestress.org

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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