Becoming a Home Care Nurse

3 reasons home care nursing is making a difference by nurses from home care nurses from Nurse Next Door.

“I look at my own ageing parents and realise, on a personal level, I’m creating and delivering a home care service that I’d be comfortable with as a daughter, not as a nurse.”

As a home care provider, we work with Registered and Enrolled Nurses, most of whom have come from a hospital or facility. For many of them, this is their first experience as a home care nurse and it’s always interesting to talk with them about the differences they see in the role that they’re now playing in their client’s healthcare journey.

We sat down with some of our nursing team to find out more about their thoughts on the move from hospital to home care nursing. Here’s what we learnt:

The big difference-maker

“The care provided in the home after a patient is discharged plays a critical part in the patient’s recovery.”

From a task point of view, home care nursing is, obviously, inherently similar to hospitals. Any client looking for a nurse to provide home care services is (or should be) holding them to the same standards as expected in any hospital. Whether we’re dressing wounds, changing catheters, working with the GP or client’s health team, dealing with stomas or feeding tubes or supporting clients with chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s or diabetes or dementia, and yes, even end of life care, you would expect that all medical care provided in the home should be provided by a qualified nurse.

However, what most nurses know from years working in a hospital setting is the knowledge that the care provided in the home after a patient is discharged plays a critical part in the patient’s recovery.

The odds of readmission, particularly for patients over the age of 65, are higher when home care is poorly managed. Yet as nurses, we know first hand that it is not uncommon for patients to be sent home with complex instructions and expectations. This, of course, increases the likelihood of seeing them return when they are unable or unwilling to follow these.

Home care is the big difference maker and, the ideal partner for hospitals, doctors, case managers, discharge planners and families who all want to see every patient return home and flourish. Having a Registered or Enrolled Nurse oversee the provision of in-home support during a patient’s recovery means that a qualified, experienced carer is there to help, teach, motivate, care for and accompany each client to focus on their complete recovery and assure optimal health outcomes.

home care nurse

Staff to patient ratios

“It’s always fun seeing that first realisation from a new team member who’s new to home care nursing when they say: “so it’s just one client, for 3 hours?”

In hospitals and facilities, at any given time, one nurse is probably dealing with six, and possibly up to 10 patients. It’s not uncommon to have to organise eight showers and 20 lots of medication before 9 am.

It’s always fun seeing that first realisation from a new team member when they say: “so it’s just one client, for 3 hours?” They often comment that they feel they’re back to doing what it was that interested them in nursing in the first place. Home care nursing connects with their core values and they love the idea of being a part of the team who’s helping someone stay safe and happy at home.

It’s also gratifying to watch a client’s reaction when you pop in with flowers “just because”. Last month we planned a surprise for a client who had a stroke. After an extended stay in the hospital, we were part of a multidisciplinary team who supported him to be discharged home. During this time we discovered he used to ride motorbikes so we organised a Harley Davidson motorbike company, with experience in disabilities, to pick him up and take him for a ride in a sidecar. It was, in his words, “the best thing he’s done all year” and his next goal is to get up and walk. It was also a huge highlight for us as his care team! Being able to develop meaningful relationships with clients and their families is definitely a highlight.

home care nurse

A focus on mental wellbeing

“As a home care nurse there are times when all my client wants is someone to talk to, and I love that I can be that person.”

Home care allows us to spend quality time with each client. We can be completely focused on the individual – what they want, when they want it. We call it Happier Ageing. It’s basically about ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to help each client approach home care with a sense of possibility. Our care philosophy centres around one question that we ask every client: “What did you use to love doing that you no longer do anymore?”

We’re never just ticking nursing tasks off a list. We have the time to give our clients that ‘wow’ customer experience, and the opportunity to find some fun in their day. Even with medical tasks, we can take the time needed to ensure the client is comfortable, safe and happy. The interesting thing is, we develop relationships that not only benefit the clients but make a difference to our own sense of purpose as well.

As a home care nurse with hospital experience, it’s like we’re putting the final piece in the healthcare puzzle. All those years working alongside doctors, nurses, patients, families and allied health professionals – we can add incredible value to add to a client’s healthcare journey.

And our priority is just making lives better!