Prompt Home Health
INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY: ACKNOWLEDGING THE HOME HEALTH NURSES
By Ike M. Okoye
Every 12th of May (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth), International Nurses’ Day is celebrated around the world to mark the contributions nurses make to society. This year it was an extra special occasion, not only because it is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, but because the year marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.
On this special occasion of International Nurses Day, we wish to particularly celebrate a unique group of nurses – the home health nurses, who are helping to alleviate the growing pressure on our health system from COVID-19 by caring for the patient in the home.Home Health Nurses are mostly Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Midwives (RMs) and Nurse Assistants who provide treatment and medical support for patients in their homes. Usually they work fora home health agency or a medical facility that assigns them to the adults and children who require healthcare at home.
Oftentimes, these patients are referred to the home health agency upon discharge from the hospital for follow up care after an acute illness, stroke or accident, or for the management of a terminal illness or chronic conditions such as CHF, liver disease or dementia-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, etc.The Home Health Agency will then assign the Nurses to provide nursing care tailored to meet the individual needs of the patient in the comfort of the home.
The Home Health Nurses’ responsibilities often include the physical, the psychological and the emotional care of the patient. Home Health Nurses build confidence, teach independence and empower their patients to take control of their lives. They are nurses but also guests, trusted advisors, teachers and friends all rolled into one. In addition to providing effective, safe and professional care,they also deliver compassion—a smile, a listening ear, and a kind heart.
The Home Health Nurses are a breed apart; functioning differently from nurses in hospitals, medical centers and other practice settings. When out caring for the patient at home, the home health nurses are alone and have no immediate access to other healthcare practitioners, and must be ready to adapt to any situation and solve any problem. They are largely responsible, too, for communicating effectively with the doctors, the agency,the patients and families and anyone else directly involved in patient care. Their care is the glue that holds it all together!
Occasionally, the Home Health Nurses are exposed to certain risks and hazards in the patients’ homes. Some patients may not have the appropriate equipment at home for caregiving, which presents a safety risk that could lead to injury to the staff and/or the patient. Sometimes, some confused or disoriented patients such as patients with the Alzheimer’s disease may become agitated and physically violent towards the nurse who is all alone and without the kind of support she would get in a hospital setting. Hence, the need for the Home Health Nurses to always be diligent, vigilant, stay calm, and report any suspicious activity or safety concerns to the agency immediately.
Delivering healthcare in the home can also get very personal as the Home Health Nurses provide patients with the most intimate, one-on-one attention. Caring for the patient at home for months or even years, the Home Health Nurses get to know the patients on an entirely different level. They learn about their patients and families in a very personal and special way. They build a history together and become part of their patients’ lives. Still, the Home Health Nurses are obligated to keep their relationships with their patients strictly professional and at all times, treat the patients with integrity, dignity and confidentiality.
Despite all these challenges and threats, the home health nurses remain heroes in the frontline of care. Thanks to them, most vulnerable patients are able to remain in their homes and receive necessary skilled nursing and therapy services, while avoiding unnecessary inpatient care and hospital stays, and family members can have some peace of mind and focus on their own life and work, knowing that their loved ones are safe and well care for. No wonder these Home Health Nurses are so often called “angels”.
The essential need for nurses has never been more apparent than during this global pandemic, and the home health nurses have shown incredible courage and resilience, continuing to show up for the patients and families every day, ready for the challenge. The Home Health Nurses are working diligently to slow exposure to the virus by providing necessary healthcare services in the home – which also serves to reduce stress on hospitals and healthcare systems already overwhelmed by severely ill patients.
Working as a Home Health Nurse is more than just a job – it is a higher calling. It requires the Nurse to have great clinical skills and personal characteristics.
Home Health Nursing is a growing nurse specialty in Nigeria,as a profession it offers many benefits that may not be available in other nursing specialties.
To learn more about home health care in Nigeria, its practice, concept and benefits, please visit: https://www.prompthomehealth.org/.