Traditionally patients requiring regular nursing treatments were hospitalized or institutionalized in order to assure they received consistent daily care. However, the movement today with elderly and many chronically ill patients is to provide basic treatments in a home setting, allowing the patient to live as normal a life as possible.
Elderly diabetics who require daily monitoring may be capable of living independently with daily visits from a home health nurse. This not only makes economic sense for the insured individual and the insurance company but also tends to give the patient a higher quality of life than hospitalization or institutionalization might. The trend toward home health care in preference to hospitalization or institutionalization has increased the need for the home health nurse in the US.
Home Health Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The home health nurse will make regular visits to patients in their home setting. They perform assessments, give mediations, and assess the patient’s overall health. A diabetic might receive injections once or twice a day and have their circulation checked in their extremities.
A patient with chronic congestive heart failure might have a home health nurse visit to weigh them regularly, assess their vital signs and deliver medications.
The home health nurse visits, performs regular routine procedures under physician orders. The home health nurse will document all visits and any changes in the patient’s condition.
How to Become a Home Health Nurse (HHN)
A home health nurse must have a great deal of compassion and be an effective communicator because they may work with individuals of all ages, races and ethnicities.
The home health nurse must hold a valid nursing license. Different patients require different levels of care and home health nurses can be LVNs, LPNs or RNs. The home health nurse must possess excellent communication skills and a wide variety of skills since the problems faced by patients vary from short-term rehabilitation and wound care to long-term health issues requiring specialized procedures and equipment. Patients on oxygen or requiring regular medications are commonly seen by the home health nurse.
Home Health Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
- The home health nurse must have a diploma or degree from an accredited nursing school.
- The nurse must also possess a valid RN or LPN/LVN license.
- Nurses working in the home setting must also meet the regular continuing education hours required to renew their licenses and certifications.
- Clinical Nurses or Nurse Practitioners may choose to specialize in a particular population such as geriatrics or diabetes or oncology and still work in home health nursing.
- Certification for Home Health Nurses (HHN) has been discontinued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Persons who have already received certification can renew their certifications provided they have completed all necessary continuing education hours. Nurses who work in home health are not required to become certified. However, those who certify in other areas such as hospice and wound care can earn more than those without any certifications. The Home Health Care Nurses Association (HHNA) releases timely information concerning home-health nurses.
Home Health Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The career prospects for the home health nurse are excellent and job growth is predicted to be better than average. The increased need for nurses in the home setting derives from the aging baby boomer population and their increasing health issues and the cost cutting measures in health care. It is significantly less expensive in many cases to support a patient at home than to hospitalize the patient.
The salary of any nurse depends upon their level of education as well as their specialty. The home health nurse with an RN license earns on average $60,000 a year. The LPN/LVN home health nurse earns around $37,000 a year.