Is Home Health Right for You?
Megan Malugani, Monster Contributing Writer
Are home health aide careers right for you? The independence, one-on-one patient contact and flexibility appeal to many healthcare job seekers, but home health work isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering a job in home care, ask yourself the following questions – courtesy of home health veterans – to determine whether you’d be happy and successful in the field.
Can You Stomach the Responsibility?
A patient’s life often depends on home care workers, whether they’re home health aides, nurses, social workers or rehab therapists. “You just never know what you’re walking into,” says Susan Patillo, RN, BSN, of the Rutland Area Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice. “You could go in thinking a person is fine, and they’re in respiratory distress.”
Have You Honed Your Clinical Skills?
When an emergency such as respiratory distress does arise, a home care worker isn’t surrounded by a team of healthcare professionals. For this reason, many home care professionals — especially nurses — have mastered basic clinical skills by working in an inpatient healthcare facility for a year or two before moving into home care. “In home care, there is really a huge range of skills you utilize on a daily basis,” Patillo says. “You need to polish your clinical skills before going into home health.”
Do You Have an Independent Streak?
Love it or loathe it, autonomy is the name of the game in home care. Although home health providers stay in touch via telephone and pagers, they spend many days without seeing coworkers or bosses face-to-face. Some home care workers can’t hack the isolation and leave the field. “If you need a lot of supervision, you won’t do so well in home care,” says occupational therapist Diana Nelms, who works for Holy Redeemer Home Care and Hospice.
Are You Proactive?
Effective home health providers are also proactive, says Jodi Stokes, RN, of the Visiting Nurse Association of Cleveland. When Stokes needs to call a physician about a patient’s condition, she offers the doctor specific suggestions about possible courses of actions. “Doctors don’t want to hear, ‘Your patient’s wound is worse. What should we do?’” she says. “Doctors want to hear, ‘Your patient’s wound looks like this, and here’s my recommendation.’ The doctors want to be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to my suggestion rather than making the patient come in.”
Do You Have Reliable Transportation?
Home care workers make multiple house calls a day regardless of the weather, so having a reliable car or access to reliable public transportation is essential, Nelms says.