Home health nurses provide care for patients in their homes, rather than in a hospital or clinic. Because most home health nurses work independently, their duties and challenges are different from more traditional nursing roles. To have a successful career as a home health nurse, you should be prepared for the unique nature of the work – and arm yourself with the knowledge you need to manage any issues that pop up. Below, check out five handy tips for home health nurses.
1. Stay organized
Organization is key for home health nurses. When you’re juggling several patients in different places, organizing your supplies and sticking to a schedule will help you stay on track. Keep your essentials – like your phone, laptop, charger, planner, pens, and paperwork – in a travel bag for easy access. You should also plan your travel routes for each day, so you can navigate between patients’ homes efficiently.
2. Get to know your patients
Since you’re visiting patients in the privacy of their homes, at-home care is a bit more intimate than on-site nursing. You should try to get to know your patients on a personal level, so they feel secure welcoming you into their home. When they’re comfortable with you, they’re also more likely to open up about their health issues, which can help you make more informed decisions about their treatment.
3. Keep your supplies stocked
You should have all the necessary medical equipment and clinical supplies on hand when visiting patients. Because you’re not working in a well-stocked facility, it’s up to you to maintain inventory and order equipment. Keep an updated inventory and devote at least one day per week to taking stock of your supplies and placing orders.
You should keep large equipment at your patients’ homes and small, transportable items in your car. Make sure to store these properly, and protect medications and sensitive instruments from direct sunlight or extreme cold.
4. Be flexible
Patients’ homes can present unpredictable challenges that you wouldn’t encounter in a typical hospital setting, so it’s important to stay flexible when things don’t go as planned. Surprise traffic, patient health emergencies, and extra paperwork are just some of the many unforeseen complications that may pop up in a typical workday. The more proactive you are about meeting these challenges as they come, the easier it’ll be to stay calm and manage your workload.
5. Stay safe
Never visit a patient’s home without letting your supervisor or manager know where you are. Make sure you have your phone on you at all times. If you enter a home that makes you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to leave immediately. Remember, you’re working alone, so you need to be extra vigilant about keeping yourself safe.
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