10 Tips for Home Health Nurses
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published May 11, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Home health nurses are an important part of the healthcare community. These dedicated professionals work closely with their patients to provide excellent levels of care in the comfort of their own homes. Because of their work environment, the duties and challenges of home health nurses may differ from those of other healthcare professionals, so it's important to understand how to use your resources effectively to succeed in this profession. In this article, we discuss the importance of tips for home health nurses and offer a list of 10 tips to help you throughout your career.
Why are tips important for home health nurses?
Home health nurses often work independently to provide care to patients within their homes instead of in a standard hospital setting. They may create individual care plans, maintain an inventory of supplies and complete the necessary paperwork for each patient. Because home health nurses work with little or no supervision, it's important for these professionals to have access to the proper resources, helpful tips and industry knowledge needed to provide their patients with optimal care and comply with legal and industry standards.
It's also important to note that providing care in unfamiliar and non-medical environments, such as patients' homes, presents a series of challenges that are unique to this healthcare position, and relevant tips may help home health care nurses successfully navigate these situations.
Related: How To Become a Home Health Aide
10 useful home health nurse tips
Here is a list of 10 useful tips for you to use in your career as a home health nurse:
1. Build relationships with your patients
Having trusting and positive relationships with your patients is an important part of providing them with quality care. Consider getting to know your patients on a personal level while maintaining your professional relationship. You may do this by asking questions about their neighborhood, hobbies, families and interests. Forming these kinds of relationships can help your patients feel more comfortable while you care for them and may help you discover the most appropriate treatments and methods for their particular needs.
2. Set patient expectations
As a home health nurse, you'll often be entering homes or personal spaces, and setting clear expectations of respect and understanding can help your patients feel more relaxed throughout their treatment. Consider discussing boundaries with your patients, such as areas of the house they wish to remain private or types of care they would like to avoid, to help them feel as comfortable as possible.
This is also an opportunity for you to provide them with a clear understanding of your needs as a healthcare professional, such as the amount of space needed for equipment or time needed for procedures. Setting expectations in these areas can help prevent any surprises or misunderstandings and make the experience more positive and rewarding for you and your patients.
3. Stay organized
Organization may be the key to successfully completing a busy day as a home health nurse. When you have several patients and home visits to attend, organizing your supplies and processes could help you better manage your time. Consider keeping a bag of essential items, such as pens, cellphone and laptop chargers, blank copies of frequently used forms and notepads, for easy access throughout your tasks. You may also plan your navigation route before making your first visit so that you clearly understand the time needed to travel from patient to patient.
4. Maintain inventory
It's important to have all of the necessary medical equipment and clinical supplies to provide care to your patients. Because this care takes place outside of a standard hospital setting, it is often your responsibility as a home health nurse to maintain inventory and order equipment as needed. Try dedicating one day out of the week to take stock of your supplies and place any necessary orders. Being proactive about maintaining your inventory could help ensure that important tools and resources are available to you and your patients.
You may keep larger equipment in the homes of your patients and smaller, more transportable items in storage bins in the trunk or hatch of your vehicle. Consider storing these items in sanitary, sealed containers and protect any medications or sensitive instruments from direct sunlight or extreme cold.
5. Bring extra clothing
As a home health nurse, you'll likely be traveling for much of your day and may not have access to laundry facilities or additional clothing. Consider packing an extra pair of clean scrubs and shoes in case of a spill or coming into contact with biohazardous material. Ensuring your clothing is clean before seeing each patient can help you maintain sanitation standards, and changing into fresh scrubs can help ensure your comfort and safety throughout the day.
6. Practice communication
Advanced communication skills could help you more easily interact with your patients and better understand their treatment needs and preferences. Clearly communicating with your patients can also help them understand how they should care for themselves in your absence. You may work on your communication skills by taking online training resources, reading books on the subject and practicing active listening with your patients and others.
7. Be flexible
Working in patients' homes may be more unpredictable than in a traditional hospital setting, so preparing for flexibility is an important part of succeeding as a home health nurse. Try to adapt your methods to allow for flexibility and set the expectations for yourself that your day may not go as planned.
Emergencies may arise, patient needs may change, traffic may prevent you from seeing a patient on time, you may be behind on paperwork, or any other unforeseen circumstance may alter the content of your shift. Understanding that these events may occur and remaining calm when they do can help you respond effectively and retain productivity.
8. Ask for help
Often, being a home health nurse involves being the only healthcare professional present during home visits. When questions arise, it's important to know how to contact the appropriate resources for support. Consider keeping a charged cellphone with you at all times and a list of resources, like other home health nurses or your employer, that you can contact in case you need to ask a question or request additional information.
9. Continue your education
Continued education is a great way to make sure you're familiar with updated policies and procedures. Consider taking classes online or at a local university to refresh and maintain your industry knowledge. The more you know about modified, discontinued or new practices, the better care you may provide to your patients. You may also read published articles on the subject and attend seminars or professional conferences to maintain your training as a home health nurse.
Related: 52 Types of Nurses
10. Remain positive
While your primary duty is to provide clinical care to your patients, it's also important to provide them with a positive home care experience. Try your best to treat every patient with kindness and positivity and to provide them with emotional support when needed. Your patients may deal with illnesses or injuries that cause varying levels of emotional distress, and they might turn to you as their caretaker to discuss those issues. Remaining positive and offering support whenever possible may bring them comfort and help to improve their recovery and home care experience.
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