What is a Home Health Nurse?

A home health nurse provides essential care to people in home settings.

These healthcare professionals perform specific duties to care for their patients and assist with their daily needs.

The home health nurse’s role is among many within the healthcare profession.

Periodically these specialists visit patients at their homes due to physical restrictions.

For instance, they assist patients who cannot easily visit a hospital, doctor, or treatment facility.

It enables patients to feel comfortable in their home setting and ensures they receive essential care and support.

Home health nurses provide care to many different types of individuals.

It includes elderly patients, patients with long-term disabilities, and those recovering from major surgery.

Often a home health care nurse is the only medical personnel a client sees during periods of treatment or care.

As a result, home health nurses are a vital component of the healthcare system.

What Do Home Health Nurses Do?

Home health nurses perform numerous duties routinely to ensure patients receive adequate care.

It includes conducting physical assessments, taking vitals, changing bandages, dressing wounds, and documenting the patient’s recovery.

They also administer medications, coordinate care plans, help with treatments, and assist with daily living needs.

Patients often have difficulty independently managing certain aspects of daily living.

As a result, home health nurses may help patients get dressed, eat, walk, exercise daily, and perform other tasks.

Sometimes patients live with family members or receive frequent visits from family and friends.

In this case, home health nurses provide education and support to help friends and family assist with the patient’s needs.

Home Health Nurse Duties:

  • Check vital signs
  • Change bandages
  • Dress wounds
  • Perform physical assessments
  • Support family and friends 
  • Monitor patient recovery
  • Coordinate care plans
  • Administer medications
  • Assist with daily living needs
  • Help with treatment plans
  • Oversee case management

The responsibilities of home health nurses center around assisting patients with challenging physical/mental tasks.

These healthcare professionals help their patients through difficult times when they don’t have other sources of assistance.

As a result, they play a significant and versatile role in attending to a patient’s needs within a home setting.

By performing home visits, the patient remains comfortable in their environment.

It reduces the patient’s need to visit a healthcare clinic or facility when hospital visits are unnecessary.

It also provides clients with amenities, allowing for more privacy and personalized care.

Lastly, home health nurses reduce patient waiting times and improve patient care at hospitals and urgent care centers.

Since patients receive medical assistance at home, they won’t slow down or overload hospitals with frequent visits.

Where do Home Health Nurses Work?

Home health nurses generally work at a client/patient’s home.

As a result, these specialists commute to wherever the patient lives rather than going to a hospital or urgent care center.

Home healthcare enables the client/patient to receive medical assistance without traveling.

That way, they remain comfy while receiving aid and don’t need to worry about commuting or lengthy hospital visits.

It’s not always easy for those with injuries, illnesses, and severe or long-term health issues to commute frequently for care.

Therefore, home health care nurses are vital to patient care when individuals cannot manage their self-care adequately.

Home health nurses may find work at agencies, community organizations, government institutions, hospitals, or insurance companies

Home Health Nurse Employers:

  • Agencies
  • Community organizations
  • Government institutions
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance companies

How to Become a Home Health Nurse

Becoming a home health nurse is relatively straightforward for hard-working individuals.

Nevertheless, there are numerous steps aspiring home health nurses must satisfy to work in this discipline.

It includes joining a nursing school, obtaining a degree, passing the NCLEX, and gaining experience.

The following section summarizes the objectives an individual must complete to become a home health nurse.

Join a Nursing School

Aspiring home health nurses may pursue an LPN, ADN, or BSN degree.

The LPN or licensed practical nurse degree takes approximately 1 – 2 years to complete.

It enables licensed practical nurses to quickly enter the healthcare field and provide essential bedside care.

However, the LPN degree is less extensive than an ADN or BSN and only covers the basics of nursing.

As a result, this degree limits a licensed practical nurse’s job opportunities and scope of practice.

Many employers also prefer registered nurses with an ADN or BSN due to their comprehensive training.

ADN and BSN Overview

Those who wish to become registered nurses can pursue an ADN or BSN degree.

Before joining a nursing program, students must complete multiple prerequisite courses and maintain a good GPA.

The prerequisite courses ensure students understand the fundamentals necessary to succeed in the nursing program.

After completing the prerequisites, students may pursue an ADN or BSN degree.

The ADN degree takes approximately 18 – 24 months to complete and provides a fundamental nursing education.

It is faster than pursuing the 36 – 48 month BSN degree but isn’t as comprehensive and provides fewer career opportunities.

Numerous registered nurses will obtain an ADN to quickly enter the field and pursue online courses to obtain their BSN.

Acquiring an ADN enables registered nurses to earn money and gain experience while furthering their education.

Other students pursue the BSN directly without seeking work with their ADN or taking an academic break.

One advantage of obtaining a BSN is that it opens up countless career opportunities.

Unlike LPNs with limited career options and disciplines, registered nurses with a BSN can pursue over 100 specializations.

Many employers also prefer registered nurses with a BSN due to their comprehensive education and scope of practice.

Pass the NCLEX

After completing nursing school, graduates must pass the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN exam.

These exams test a student’s competencies to ensure they have adequate training to operate effectively as licensed nurses.

Passing the exam is also necessary to obtain state licensure.

The NCLEX-PN exam is for LPNs, and the NCLEX-RN exam is for registered nurses.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers both examinations.

Gain Experience

After completing nursing school and obtaining licensure, gaining work experience is essential.

Many home health services require licensed nurses to understand how to perform adequate patient care.

As a result, obtaining careers in direct/bedside care settings is highly beneficial.

Understanding the home health service’s specific hiring conditions is also essential.

For instance, some employers may require LPNs with 2 – 3 years of experience in a nursing home.

Others may require an RN with ADN or BSN and at least two years of direct care experience in a hospital setting.

Depending on their clients, employers may also require experience in specific fields, like urgent care or med/surg nursing.

Employers may offer jobs to licensed practical nurses to assist high-functioning patients who only require basic assistance.

However, they may only hire registered nurses with a BSN for patients requiring more extensive care.

Who employers hire and their requirements ultimately depend on their clientele.

The more severe the patients, the more critical it is to hire nurses with an advanced degree and more extensive training.

Importance of a Home Health Care Nurse

Unfortunately, people sometimes get very sick.

When this happens, an extended hospital stay may not be viable.

At this point, families often face tough choices.

They can put their loved ones in a facility or allow them to stay in their home.

Allowing the person to remain in their home has a better quality of life throughout their illness.

A home health nurse makes home care possible because they come to the patient’s location.

Traveling to a doctor is sometimes almost impossible, which is why the support of a home health nurse is critical.

In addition to providing medical assistance, home health nurses develop lasting bonds with their clients.

It enables them to provide their clients with emotional support, entertainment, and a meaningful connection.

As a result, home health nurses are a crucial link in their patient’s recovery or long-term care.

These healthcare professionals allow clients to be comfortable, happy, and supported.