5 things to know about being a home care nurse

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Day Care Combines Child Care And Senior Care

In Georgia, home health aide positions have been projected to increase by 44% by 2024

Unable to stand for very long or drive to the doctor, many older Americans must rely on home care nurses. The problem is, there aren’t enough of these nurses to go around.

Home health care involves everything from changing the dressing on wounds to checking vital signs such as blood pressure. And with 75% of Americans over 65 having multiple chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or dementia, the need for home health care is enormous.

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People turning 65 today have an almost 70% chance of needing some type of elder care services or support in their remaining years, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our country is at a critical point regarding this workforce,” Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI, told Home Health Care News. “The pandemic reinforced the enormous value of these workers, the challenges they continue to face, and how those problems endanger the lives of both workers and the people they support.”

Overall, there are an estimated 4.6 million direct care workers in the United States, Home Health News reported. Generally, this includes personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants.

As seniors try to stay out of hospitals and nursing homes when possible, according to CNBC, the job outlook for home health care nurses is expected to grow 19-26% over the next 10 years, which is much faster than most professions. In Georgia, home health aide positions have been projected to increase by 44% between 2014 and 2024, according to healthcarepathway.com.

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Here are five things to know if you’re considering a career as a home care nurse:

You'll probably need experience

Most home health care agencies require their nurses to have a BSN and a minimum of two years of experience as an RN in a medical-surgical setting, according to NursingCenter. This type of background usually ensures you have a broad range of assessment skills.

You'll have a longer list of essential items

Your list of must-have items often goes beyond what you might need if you were a nurse in a hospital or doctor's office. You'll need to be prepared for a variety of situations, which calls for an expanded list of essentials, noted nurse.org. A flashlight will help you work in homes with little or no light and you should also carry flea and wasp spray to avoid getting bitten. An extra pair or scrubs and shoes can also come in handy, in case you encounter less-than-clean situations or are around patients who smoke.

You'll get to see some of your patients on a regular basis

Hospital nurses see many patients, including some who are discharged relatively quickly, so you might not get to know each patient as well as you’d like to. In a home setting, you’ll likely see some of your patients on an ongoing basis, making it easier to make a connection with them.

You'll have some independence

As a home care nurse, you won't have anyone looking over your shoulder. Instead of calling on a fellow nurse for help, you'll need to figure many things out for yourself. If you're a newer nurse, this can be a real challenge, but finding solutions on your own can be satisfying and exciting, home health nurse Laura Silverstein told Minority Nurse. Even eight years later, she still enjoys the autonomy her job provides.

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You may have to improvise

You should have a variety of medical supplies in your car, but you won’t be able to bring or anticipate everything you need. Perhaps you need to hang an IV after hours, but you discover that the pharmacy didn’t send the IV pole. In a case like this, a home care nurse told allnurses, you’ll have to get creative. You may find that putting the hanger over the door works well or that a broom handle strapped to an upright vacuum creates a wheeled IV pole! Of course, you’ll have to make sure your modifications are safe and appropriate.

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