Learning About Home Health Care

An unfortunate part of aging can be losing the ability to take care of yourself. Whether you are living alone or with someone at your constant beck and call, the complication of being able to do less is a continual hardship. There are many solutions to dealing with such a struggle. One in particular that is becoming increasingly popular is home health care.

Home health care is essentially receiving services you would at a hospital or nursing facility inside your own home. The advantages to this in-home care are numerous.

For example, think of some services your daily week requires: laundry, grocery shopping, cooking. Now think of work you have trouble doing that is even more basic in scope: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to the bathroom. This is where home health care spans and fills the gaps of your need.

Of course, we’ve all heard this routine before. So how does home health care outweigh that of a nursing home?

The first way is basic, but something on everyone’s mind and that’s cost of care. As individuals who need care, or as family members looking to provide care for their elders, the most important decision is cost. No one wants to feel like a financial burden on another, nor does a friend or loved one wish to deal with the guilt of paying less for care that provides fewer services, if need be.

With home health care, one doesn’t have to worry about sacrificing care for cost. Since any individual receiving these services isn’t having to worry about being charged for the utilities of a facility or on-hand resources, the costs instantly dwindle. That leads us to the next advantage.

Remaining in your own home keeps you one step ahead of the game. There’s no having to find a sterile room or apartment at a larger facility and trying to make it your ‘own.’ There’s no better advantage than feeling safe in your surroundings and that’s the foremost provision of this care: you’ll get to feel comfortable sooner and faster than anywhere else.

The next way is by individualized attention. A person doesn’t just get home health care, but they can received skilled health services like speech therapy or physical therapy.

While the latter can sound daunting, they’re generally not. Often speech therapy begins with practicing new words or word games to help sharpen the mind. Physical therapy as well as occupational therapy can be easy pinpointing of symptoms: from hand stretches to limited weightlifting with the feet. The upshot is it’s one-on-one directed.

Overall, it’s important to think about home health care in terms of who is the one receiving the benefits. If an individual is struggling and not able to perform everyday maintenance in their life, they shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or out of place to solve the issue. Home health care offers a reliable and personal treatment to the often expensive out-of-house care of nursing homes.

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Home Health Care Certification

What exactly is home health care and how do you enter this booming market? As indicated by its name, home health care is simply health care provided for those that require assistance in their home. It shouldn’t be confuse from basic home care, which does not account for the trained medical care that is provided.

In most cases, simple home care involves meeting the day to day needs of your loved one, like shopping, cleaning and errand running, and is mostly provided by friends or family. On occasion a companion is hired to perform these tasks. In contrast, home health care is usually provided by a trained professional. This may be a nurse, a therapist, or a home health aide.

To become a home health care professional, you will be required to receive some type of training. The training focus will usually center on home safety in regards to the patient. You will also receive training on how to deliver professional personal care, and how to properly use the equipment needed to assist those requiring home health care services.

The training required for the various positions can vary from on the job training to more advanced training that requires certification or a degree. The largest organization that offers training for home health care certification is the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. They offer various certification programs.

If you are in a current management position, you may want to become certified as a Home Care and Hospice Executive. If you want to receive a certification in the hands on training area, you can apply for the Home Care Aide National Certification program. No matter which certification you seek, you will need to re-certify every four years.

For the home care aides, the certification process will involve three elements that you must pass. You must pass the Training portion, the Skills Demonstration, and the Written Examination. The training portion requires a curriculum of 75 hours. This training will give you the medical skills to become fully certified.

The Skills Demonstration portion involves demonstrating competency in seventeen various skills. Demonstration of this competency comes from observation and documentation. The Written Examination is administered by the Home Care University. Obtaining your certification will ensure patients and clients that you are providing them with a higher standard of home care aide.

Whether you desire to enter this field in a management position, or as a hands-on care provider, the home health care industry has an increased need for professionals in this field. Because of our aging population, the need is expected to continue to rise through the next ten years or so. Obtaining your certification in this area will give you a leg up on your competition.

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Home Health Care, an Alternative to Nursing Homes

More and more people are choosing home health care as an alternative to entering assisted living facilities. There are different levels of care available to individuals who wish to remain in their homes but who need a little extra help. Having these options make it possible for lots of folks to stay in their houses longer and live their own lives. There are several compelling reasons families are choosing this for their loved ones.

Better for the Well-Being of the Patient

Studies have shown that being allowed to stay at home and to maintain some level of independence is better for the patient’s overall health. Feeling “put away” can cause feelings of depression or hopelessness, which in turn may cause increased health problems. If a patient has a say in their own care, they feel much better and their body can recover and heal more efficiently. This is true even if they do decide to enter a nursing home, but simply having the option is a big help.

Comfortable and Convenient

When the time comes when someone needs a little special attention or care, it is important for them to be as comfortable as possible. A big change in their health condition is stressful enough. Sometimes, the best decision is to make sure they can stay in their own home where everything is familiar, so that there aren’t as many drastic changes all at once.

Not having to pack a bag or decide what can stay or go is another benefit to home health care. Everything is as it always was, but now there is someone there to help with the details.

Affordable

The old stereotype about home health care is that it is not affordable except for the super-rich. This is not at all the case. An ever increasing number of health insurance providers are covering this type of care, and certain government programs can offer financial assistance.

Easier on Families

Home health care is a wonderful blessing for couples who need help for one person but not the other. The couple can stay together in their own home, but without the pressure of one person having to provide constant assistance to the other. The strain is off the partner, and the couple can simply enjoy being together. This also has health benefits for the partner.

Kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters might be helping out with the health care needs of an individual just so they can stay at home. With a home health care provider, the patient will receive professional assistance. The family members also benefit, because when they come to visit they can just spend quality time together instead of concerning themselves with all the health issues.

Home health care is a welcome option for many folks who are trying to decide how to plan for the future in light of their physical requirements. While a nursing home is still a very good option for many people, it is reassuring that there are choices out there to fit everyone’s individual needs.

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How to Become a Home Health Care Nurse

Home Health Care Nursing Information and Overview

Home health care is allowing the patient and their family to maintain dignity and independence. According to the National Association for Home Care, there are more than 7 million individuals in the United States in need of home health care nurse services because of acute illness, long term health problems, permanent disability or terminal illness.

Home Health Care Basics

Nurses practice in a number of venues: Hospital settings, nursing homes, assisted living centers, and home health care. Home health care nursing is a growing phenomenon as more patients and their families desire to receive care in their homes. The history of home health care stems from Public Health Nursing where public health nurses made home visits to promote health education and provide treatment as part of community outreach programs. Today academic programs train nurses in home care and agencies place home health care nurses with ailing individuals and their families depending on the nurse’s experience and qualifications. In many cases there is a shared relationship between the agency and the academic institution.

Many changes have taken place in the area of home health care. These include Medicare and Medicaid, and Long Term Care insurance reimbursement and documentation. It is important for the nurse and nursing agency to be aware of the many factors involved for these rules and regulations resulting from these organizations. Population and demographic changes are taking place as well. Baby boomers approaching retirement and will present new challenges for the home health care industry. Technology and medical care in hospitals has lead to shorter inpatient stay and more at-home rehabilitation. Increases in medical outpatient procedures are also taking place with follow-up home care. This has resulted in the decrease of mortality rate from these technologies and medical care has lead to increases in morbidity and chronic illness that makes the need for home health care nursing a greater priority.

Home Health Care Nurse Job Description

Through an array of skills and experience, home health care nurses specialize in a wide range of treatments; emotional support, education of patients who are recovering from illnesses and injury for young children and adults, to women who have experienced recent childbirth, to the elderly who need palliative care for chronic illness.

A practicing nurse must have the skills to provide care in a unique setting such as someone’s home. The nurse is working with the patient and the family and must understand the communication skills for such dynamics. Rapport is evident in all nursing positions, but working in a patient’s own living space needs a different level of skill and understanding. There is autonomous decision making as the nurse is no longer working as a team with other nurses in a structured environment, but is now as a member of the “family” team. The host family has cultural values that are important and are different for every patient and must be treated with extreme sensitivity. Other skills include critical thinking, coordination, assessment, communication, and documentation.

Home health care nurses also specialize in the care of children with disabilities that requires additional skills such as patience and understanding of the needs of the family. Children are living with disabilities today that would have resulted in mortality just twenty years ago. Genetic disorders, congenital physical impairments, and injury are just a few. Many families are familiar with managing the needs of the child, but still need expert care that only a home health care nurse can provide. It is important that a home health care nurse is aware of the expertise of the family about the child’s condition for proper care of the child. There are many complexities involved, but most important, a positive attitude and positive reinforcement is of utmost importance for the development of the child.

Medication coordination between the home health care nurse, doctor, and pharmacist, ensures proper management of the exact science behind giving the patient the correct dose, time of administration, and combinations. Home health care nurses should be familiar with pharmacology and taught in training about different medications used by patients in the clinical setting.

Many advanced practicing nurses are familiar with medication regiments. They have completed graduate level programs. Home health care agencies believe that a nurse should have at least one year of clinical experience before entering home health care. Advanced practicing nurses can expedite that training by helping new nurses understand the home health care market and teaching.

Employment and Salary

According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 2.4 million nurses in America, the largest healthcare occupation, yet many academic and hospital organizations believe there is a gross shortage in nursing staff. The shortage of nurses was 6% in 2000 and is expected to be 10% in 2010. The average salary for hospital nursing is $53,450 with 3 out of 5 nursing jobs are in the hospital. For home health care, the salary is $49,000. For nursing care facilities, they were the lowest at $48,200.

Training and continuing education

Most home health care nurses gain their education through accredited nursing schools throughout the country with an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), or a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2004 there were 674 BSN nursing programs, 846 ADN programs. Also, in 2004, there were 417 master’s degree programs, 93 doctoral programs, and 46 joint BSN-doctoral programs. The associate degree program takes 2 to 3 years to complete, while bachelors degrees take 4 years to complete. Nurses can also earn specialized professional certificates online in Geriatric Care or Life Care Planning.

In addition, for those nurses who choose to pursue advancement into administrative positions or research, consulting, and teaching, a bachelor’s degree is often essential. A bachelor’s degree is also important for becoming a clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004).

All home health care nurses have supervised clinical experience during their training, but as stated earlier advanced practicing nurses hold master’s degrees and unlike bachelor and associate degrees, they have a minimum of two years of post clinical experience. Course work includes anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, and behavioral sciences and liberal arts. Many of these programs have training in nursing homes, public health departments, home health agencies, and ambulatory clinics. (U.S. Dep. of Labor, 2004).

Whether a nurse is training in a hospital, nursing facility, or home care, continuing education is necessary. Health care is changing rapidly and staying abreast with the latest developments enhances patient care and health procedures. Universities, continuing education programs, and internet sites, all offer continuing education. One such organization that provides continuing education is the American Nurses Association (ANA) or through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Conclusion

There are many rewards to becoming a home health care nurse. Some rewards include the relationship with a patient and their family, autonomy, independence, and engaging in critical thinking. The 21st Century brings with it many opportunities and challenges. We must meet these challenges head on – there is an aging baby boomer population, a growing morbidity factor due to increased medical technology and patient care, and the growing shortage in nursing care.

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