Shining A Light on Nurses in Home Care
Nurses play an important role in home healthcare. As National Nurse Appreciation Week draws to a close, we thought it appropriate to shine a light on nurses in home care and the important work they do.
A Special Kind of Specialty
Nurses working in home care perform many functions. From direct care to supervising and administration, homecare nurses work closely with non-clinical caregivers like CNA’s and HHA’s, provide direct clinical medical care for patients, and work as liaisons with doctors, staff, family, and other parties. Without these nurses, home care couldn’t happen. Without them, many people could not return to their homes nearly as quickly with illness, injury, or chronic conditions. Many seniors would not have the option to age in place in their homes, either.
Specialized nurses bring the experience and expertise from a number of different areas of focus. These include, but are certainly not limited to, geriatric care, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, wound care, post-operative care, tracheotomy, IV, pediatric care, ambulatory and paraplegic care, catastrophic injury care, trauma care, palliative care, hospice care, and much more. This list only touches on the direct care areas that are common among homecare nurses. Nurses fill vast roles in administration, direction, and case management, too. All in all, this is a scope of practice and field of specialty services that parallels that of inclusive hospitals and medical facilities.
Common Roles and Faces of Nurses in Homecare Settings
While it would be difficult to list all the different potential nursing faces that one might see in a home healthcare setting, here are some of the more common roles that nurses play in home care. Every home care client and every case is unique, and so the services and specialties are unique to each client. Certainly, your home will not become a revolving door of nurses, but these are some of the roles you might see a nurse or nurses play in your care or the care of your loved one.
Private Duty Nurses are licensed, registered nurses who deliver long-term care in the home. One or more nurses are generally in the home full-time or near to it, because the needs of the patient are such that they require skilled medical care that cannot be provided by non-clinical caregivers (such as a Certified Nursing Assistant [CNA], or Home Health Aide [HHA]). Palliative care and hospice care are examples in which private duty nursing may be warranted.
Visiting Nurses are also licensed, registered nurses who provide specialty care in the home, but in this case the needs of the patient are less, and so they will require a nurse’s services some of the time, but not all of the time. For example, the client may need regularly scheduled visits for things like wound care or post-surgical care, or evaluation following a hospital stay. Nurses working in this capacity may be of various specialties, depending on the illness, condition, or injury. The client may require assistance and care for reasons of safety and activities of daily living, and in fact is likely to do so, but that care falls under the scope of non-clinical or non-medical care and is more often provided by a caregiver such as a CNA, HHA, or sometimes a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
Nurse Supervisors or Clinical Supervisors, Clinical Directors are nurses who serve something of a bridge role. Their job is primarily supervisory and administrative, but they may also perform direct care, depending on the roles and assignments within the agency. The work of nurse supervisors and clinical directors is to construct, evaluate, implement, modify, and oversee care plans and caregiver staff. Having knowledgeable, experienced nurses who have worked in direct patient care in these positions brings the right balance of knowledge, expertise, care, and execution to each unique case.
Nurse Case Managers play a similar, yet different role than a nurse supervisor or clinical director does. A Nurse Case Manager performs a lot of oversight as well, but whereas a Clinical Supervisor works more directly with staff, a case manager works with a wider collection of involved parties in more of an administrative and organizational capacity. A Case Manager’s job is to coordinate care not only with the home care agency, but also with other services and providers like doctors, therapists, insurers, medical goods suppliers, and any and all other services relating to the client’s ongoing care.
Nurse Case Managers arrange needed services such as transportation, make appointments, order supplies, and ensure clerical work is performed for the delivery of services. A Nurse Case Manager may indeed secure homecare services, but that will be one of the services of many that a case manager may be arranging (again, depending on client needs).
Home Nursing Care Tailored to Client Needs
The nurses that you meet along the homecare journey may vary over the course of care. A Nurse Clinical Supervisor or Director is a person who will be involved in most, if not all, cases within an agency, because they are the person in the agency deciding who needs what care. Others, like visiting nurses, may only be involved for a short period of time, or they may come and go as conditions arise and then improve and resolve. Private Duty nurses, on the other hand, tend to stay with a client or family for a long period of time, because the needs of serious and chronic conditions warrant long-term care, and therefore long-term placement.
No matter what your or your loved one’s needs are regarding home care nursing services, you will find that these invaluable professionals fill an important role in home healthcare. They are a treasure trove of service, expertise, and support. Home healthcare nurses are a huge part of what makes aging in place and home rehabilitation, recovery, and life with chronic conditions both positive and possible.
Private Home Care Services is a nurse-owned and nurse-operated private homecare agency in Massachusetts. With Nurse Clinical Director Danielle Hannigan at its helm, PHCS is well positioned to provide all of these services and many more throughout the state of Massachusetts, and beyond. Contact PHCS or make a referral for more information. No obligation, all questions and inquiries welcome.