A general sense of caution is vital for home health workers considering you have limited control over the work environment.
Homes are often regarded as safe havens. However, if you're working in the home health field, it's important to avoid letting your guard down even if the house's walls are lined with embroidered pictures of flower fields. While you certainly shouldn't fear your clients, a general sense of caution is vital considering you have limited control over the work environment. Here are a few tips to stay safe on the job:
Beware of dog
Even the most experienced animal experts are at risk for injury. Just consider the Bengal tiger who attacked Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy in 2003. The men had put on shows with these animals 2,000 times without incident before one cat inexplicably mauled Roy, according to the Today show.
While it's unlikely you'll encounter a tiger while working in home health jobs, pets can pose risks, too. Survey data cited in the book "Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches (Vol. 1: Assessment)" found that 17 percent of home health care workers have dealt with aggressive pets on the job. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare advised those in this field to not touch pets. In fact, you might benefit from requesting the client put the animal in a cage or separate room during your visit.
Practice caution with clients
While your job is to help clients with daily living activities and provide care, you have to look out for your own well-being, too. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, health care workers are at a higher risk for workplace violence than other occupations, much of which is due to violent clients. Individuals you work with are unwell in some shape or form, and their condition can make them aggressive. For instance, a devastating prognosis or certain medications can prompt people to be combative.
This won't be the case with every client you encounter, but if an incident does occur, use it as an opportunity to evaluate cause and risk factors. Adjust your practices to protect yourself, or speak with your employer about working with a colleague on certain jobs to create a safer environment.
"Always bring along non-latex disposable gloves and hand sanitizer."
Keep it clean
Your own home might be spick and span, but there's no telling what conditions will be like in your clients' houses. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, unsanitary spaces exasperate the spread disease and infections and can cause medical supplies to become contaminated. Some may even put home health workers in the midsts of bed bugs or mites.
If this is the case for you, always bring along non-latex disposable gloves and hand sanitizer. Additionally, limit what supplies you take into the home, as this will expose less equipment to potential contamination. Finally, watch where you place your belongings, like a purse or backpack. Instead of setting them down on the carpet or upholstered furniture, which are more likely to harbor germs, set them on a table or keep them in the car.
Handle with care
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nursing assistants are among the top occupations for incurring musculoskeletal injuries. Lifting patients is a major contributor to this issue. It's important for home health workers to practice appropriate techniques when moving clients.
This can be challenging in the home health field considering these workers often go to jobs alone and client homes don't always have lifting equipment. In this case, you should assess the patient's risk for falls and keep an open line of communication with your employer about the situation. Together, you and the agency you work for can come up with a plan to keep both you and the client safe from injury.Read in 3 minutes
Unless you're a live-in caretaker, chances are there will come a time when you client needs a more permanent solution for his or her health needs, such as moving to assisted living community.
As a home health provider, you have such an important job helping seniors age in place as long as possible. However, unless you're a live-in caretaker, there will likely come a time when you client needs a more permanent solution for his or her health needs, such as moving to assisted living community. Here's how to approach that discussion with older adults:
Act as the buffer for family members
If your clients have family members involved in their lives like adult children, these individuals will likely be the ones making the final decision. However, there's a good chance they'll invite you to the discussion with the senior.
In this position, you might best serve as the buffer between family members and the senior. As research published in "Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses" explained, seniors may feel like their freedoms are being taken away when family members provide care. This sense of confinement may increase when discussions of assisted living come into play. You can keep the peace in the family by conveying important information while emphasizing that the senior will still maintain his or her independence.
Don't procrastinate on this duty
Telling clients that they may fare better in an assisted living community isn't always an easy conversation. In fact, you might find yourself avoiding the topic altogether. Otherwise, it could be the family that's stalling. Either way, this type of procrastination can do more harm than good, especially when clients experience cognitive decline.
As the Alzheimer's Association explained, people are more likely to react positively to a long-term care move when they are involved in the decision-making process. That requires home care workers to have this conversation while the client is still able to understand what this transition means and can communicate their thoughts.
Focus on the benefits of assisted living communities
While it is important to discuss why part-time care is not sufficient for the client's health needs, you can also highlight how transitioning to assisted living brings tons of advantages. For one, staff at these locales know that the move can be challenging, and that's why they create a welcoming atmosphere. Plus, they have plenty of activities for residents to fill their days, such as outings at the theater to fitness classes.
As Helpguide.com explained, most reservations seniors have about assisted living communities turn out to be myths. For example, independence isn't lost with this transition as many older adults fear. In fact, assisted living communities are designed to preserve autonomy, providing care when needed but giving residents a lot of personal freedom. Residents can enjoy their normal hobbies like reading or gardening and still visit with family and friends. Many residences host events to encourage visitors to get involved with the community.
As a home health provider, you have a duty to care for your clients, and that includes quelling their fears and helping them lead a more fulfilling lifestyle. Be honest with seniors about whether your services can help them, and guide them and their families through the transition to assisted living.
For an additional resource regarding discussing moving options with seniors, check out the senior guide to downsizing.Read in about 3 minutes
As of right now, the demand for home health care is rising. Here's what providers need to know.
Regardless of your profession, it is important to stay on top of industry trends to get a better idea of both future outlooks and overall job security. The same rings especially true for home health care providers. Nurses and aides would benefit from researching trends in this field to understand how they can adapt with the times.
As of right now, the demand for home health care is rising. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for home health aides will rise 38 percent by 2024. Learn about some of the factors driving this trend so you can know what lies ahead:
An aging population
It's no secret that baby boomers are rapidly entering the age of retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 44.7 million individuals age 65 and older in America in 2013. This age group is expected to grow to 98.2 million by 2060,. This highlights the need for health care to focus on this population's unique and often serious well-being needs.
One way to prepare for this transition is to boost funding home health care services. That was one such solution discussed at the 2013 National Association for Home Care & Hospice annual meeting, the Association of Health Care Journalists reported.
"Hospitals or nursing homes are no longer the only options," Senator Harry Reid said during his presentation. "In the months and years to come, the home health care industry will become the de facto solution for many as our aging population requires more care."
Rising health costs
As a health care provider, you may find clients using your services partly because the alternatives are just too expensive. According to a study published in Health Affairs, insurance costs are going up as health care advances. That is, progressive treatments and drugs are more expensive than their past, perhaps less effective counterparts. While this trend equals better health outcomes, it can also cause pain for the wallet.
Home health care is a cost-effective way to combat this problem. As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlighted, a single bedroom unit at an assisted living community can run residents up 3,293 per month. Meanwhile, in-home options, like the use of home health or home care, can be done on an hourly basis. This way, clients can pay for just what they need.
As a home health provider, you have the unique opportunity to deliver high-quality care in the comfort of your clients' homes while helping them save money. Your job is vital to the well-being of the senior population, and job opportunities are abundant.Read in 2 minutes
Weighing the pros and cons: Should you be the primary caregiver for your aging parents?
Many people often try to leave their work at the office. For example, chefs may avoid cooking at home after having spent hours in the kitchen. Meanwhile, construction workers may prefer to relax when they are off duty instead of fixing up their homes.
For medical professionals, that on-off switch isn't so easy, especially with aging parents. Many individuals, whether they are home health aides, nurses or another type of provider, are challenged with the decision: Do I care for my senior mom and dad, or do I hire someone else? Here are the pros and cons of taking on the job yourself:
Pro: You know your parents better than anyone
Some children of aging parents are hesitant to hire an outside caretaker because they don't want someone unfamiliar in their relatives' homes. While providers like home health aides are trained, competent and compassionate, you may feel more comfortable looking after your parents' well-being on your own. Since you are a medical professional yourself, you certainly have the know-how to offer the best treatment possible.
Plus, you bring a level of familiarity to your parents that no one else can provide. For example, while someone may see your mom's laughter as a sign of happiness, you may know that she chuckles when she's nervous. Being able to read body language and adapt your actions accordingly is crucial to delivering high-quality care.
Con: Beware of compassion fatigue
You no doubt bring a lot of love into your job as your parent's caretaker, but these types of emotions can weigh on your mental health. A study published in The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing found that practicing nurses who cared for senior relatives were at a greater risk for compassion fatigue. Not having other professional resources to turn to during their parents' or relatives' care regimen made the condition worse.
As the American Institute of Stress explained, compassion fatigue carries many of the same traits as burnout. Specifically, nurses with this condition often cope with emotional and physical exhaustion, isolate themselves and feel less accomplished in their work. Hiring an outside caregiver reduces your risk of developing compassion fatigue.
Caring for your aging parents means you get to spend more time with them.
Pro: You get to spend more time with your parents
Serving as the primary caregiver to your senior parents means you get to spend more time with them. Not only does this allow you to create cherished memories, but it can also boost your loved ones' quality of life, according to the National Council on Aging.
A survey from the NCOA, along with UnitedHealthcare and USA Today, found that 53 percent of seniors said staying connected with family and friends was important. Additionally, respondents felt this helped them achieve a higher quality of life. Meanwhile, the older adults who felt isolated had a negative outlook on their futures. By these results, maintaining close relationships with elderly parents can help them achieve a positive mentality.
Plus, if you bring your kids or friends over while caring for your parents, those interactions can also have benefit the seniors' health. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, staying social during retirement may lower blood sugar, stave off conditions like cardiovascular disease and dementia, and curb the risk for depression.
Con: Decreased work-life balance
Medical professionals hold jobs in high-stress environments, thus making a proper work-life balance all the more essential. Caring for your senior parents inevitably requires your attention after normal work shifts, limiting your opportunities for going out with your spouse or friends. According to American Nurse Today, this lack of work-life balance is closely linked to burnout.
There are ways providers can alleviate certain pressures, such as discussing expectations with spouses and kids and limiting the amount of time spent engaged in work. Of course, this is difficult considering caring for senior parents may be a 24/7 job. As such, hiring extra help to supplement your responsibilities may prove beneficial.
The decision of whether or not to provide care to your aging parents is a tough one to make. It's important to weigh all your options, discuss these with family members and remain flexible throughout the process.Read in 3 minutes
Health care workers see folks on their worst days, which means they may be extremely sick, scared, angry and even violent.
Health care workers don't get enough credit for what they go through. From home health aides and registered nurses to physicians and psychiatrists, there is no telling what types of patients they'll care for in a given shift. Remember, health care workers see folks on their worst days, which means they may be extremely sick, scared, angry and even violent. That latter trait occurs all too often, putting care professionals' physical safety and emotional well-being at risk.
"A total of 154 shootings occurred at hospitals between 2000-2011."
A violent epidemic
According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the health care industry lays claim to the second-most violent workplace, falling behind only law enforcement. The article reviewed other studies on the issue and found that this problem exists for just about every field in health care.
For example, 61 percent of providers who work in the home setting encounter violence each year, and 40 percent of psychiatrists suffer the same fate. However, emergency room workers may get the worst of it. All ER nurses endure verbal assaults, while 82.1 percent experience physical attacks. Additionally, violence happens to 78 percent of ER physicians.
These statistics demonstrate that health care workers are more likely than not to experience workplace violence. As Dr. James P. Phillips told Medscape Medical News, those who don't work in the medical industry may be surprised at these findings.
"Workplace violence with nurses, physicians and other health care workers is a much bigger problem than the general public knows," Phillips said. "Health care providers also seem to be unaware of the extent of the violence."
Phillips explained to Reuters that many of these violent acts involve weapons in addition to kicking, punching and spitting. A total of 154 shootings occurred at hospitals between 2000 and 2011, and attackers were motivated by anything from revenge against health care workers to mercy killings.
The reason behind these staggering statistics remains unclear. According to Phillips, the mental condition of the patients plays a major role in these high rates of violence. Specifically, conditions like dementia, substance abuse and delirium make people act in ways they wouldn't otherwise. He also blames environmental contributors like gang activity or poor food quality in medical facilities.
Medscape highlighted another perspective from University of Cincinnati in Ohio's Dr. Gordon Gillespie. While he didn't offer an alternative rationale for behavior, he did point out that many instances of violence related to patients who didn't have behavioral health issues were unreported. As such, the statistics were misleading in regards to both the prevalence of the issue and why it was occurring.
Underreporting also leads to the problem not getting enough attention. As Phillips explained to Reuters, this may be due to providers making excuses for their patients - blaming their actions on an altered mental state, for example. Otherwise, workers may not report the issue because they don't feel it will be taken seriously.
Address workplace violence in health care
Regardless of why medical professionals experience violence on the job, the health care industry must address these all too frequent assaults and threats. Of course, there is no foolproof solution to the problem, but certain strategies can better protect nurses, doctors, aides and other providers.
For instance, Reuters pointed out the solution to better track past instances of violence, and more effective patient chart designs may help. This way, employees could follow special protocol for patient care, such as avoiding being alone with the individual, for instance. Another possibility is making physical assaults on health care workers a felony. Overall, medical facilities must create an environment where workers feel comfortable and safe enough to report instances of abuse.
Raising awareness on health care workplace violence is the first step to combating the issue. Preventing assaults, whether verbal or physical, is vital to keeping medical professionals safe and healthy.Read in 3 minutes
With 14.1 percent of the population made up of seniors, it's clear that the health care industry is tending for many aging bodies.
Americans are continually entering retirement age. In fact, according to 2013 statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the U.S. was home to 44.7 million adults 65 and older. With 14.1 percent of the population made up of seniors, it's clear that the health care industry is tending for many aging bodies. That means medical professionals, from doctors to home health aides, must remain aware of common health issues related to seniors. Here are a few to keep in mind:
Being overweight is one of the most common challenges impacting seniors. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that between 2007-2010, 34.6 percent of seniors were obese. This condition is linked to a number of issues, including diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, difficulty breathing and sleep apnea, among others.
Seniors face unique obstacles with their weight compared to the general population. Not only is extra weight harder on their bodies, but seniors also have additional risk factors. As Everyday Health explained, older adults experience slower metabolisms, especially those who don't exercise. Additionally, even though they may require fewer calories based on their sedentary lifestyle, seniors may continue eating the same way they always have, leading to weight gain.
As a health care professional, it's important to provide nutrition and exercise consultation to your senior clients. Additionally, encourage them to remain active, as this can help them maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.
A disease often associated with age, arthritis is a major problem among seniors, Dr. Marie Bernard of Maryland's National Institute on Aging told Everyday Health.
"Arthritis is probably the number one condition that people 65 or older contend with," she said.
Nearly half of the older adult population lives with this painful disease. Between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, the latter is most common among seniors, and it can cause stiffness that makes mobility difficult. While this discomfort can be discouraging, geriatric caretakers should do their best to keep their older clients moving. According to the National Institutes of Health, a combination of exercise, a well-balanced diet and joint protection (like proper-fitting shoes and mobility assistance devices) can contribute to an effective treatment plan.
Many people don't realize that depression is actually a prevalent health issue among seniors. Intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness and fatigue are not a normal component of aging, regardless of what your client and his or her family may believe. In fact, seniors who do not receive treatment for depression may even commit suicide, according to the NIH.
Many seniors have difficulty adjusting to shifting family roles and may feel isolated, as not working provides less opportunities to socialize. As a health care provider, it's important to identify symptoms of depression in your senior clients. These may include feeling tired and anxious, being unable to focus, an inability to sleep or staying in bed too long, and experiencinRead in 2 minutes
Perhaps the most attractive element of nursing is the ability to take your career in new directions.
Being a nurse has many exciting components, from trying your hand at the latest medical techniques to seeing improvements in client health. Perhaps the most attractive element of nursing, though, is the ability to take your career in new directions. Change is both thrilling and challenging, and in order to make the most of their job advancement endeavors, nurses must have the right tools and knowledge for getting ahead. Here are some tips for moving up in the nursing industry:
1. Find your education path
As patient needs change, so do effective care techniques. Chronic conditions are some of the most pressing health issues. Meanwhile, the U.S. population has seen demographic shifts like an aging population and greater racial and ethnic diversity. As a 2010 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine explained, modern nursing education targets the current health trends and cultural needs better than training given in the 20th century.
In order for nurses to provide adequate care for current clients and leverage modern health technology, they may need to return to school. This keeps them updated on the latest direction of the health care industry, and it also develops highly educated and well-trained nurses who are better able to cater to the varying needs of clients.
2. Don't underestimate the value of experience
While continuing your education provides a detailed and comprehensive view of health care's current state, immersing yourself in new experience gives you a unique perspective on client care needs. Many advanced nursing jobs, like those in travel nursing, require at prior service, too.
Take every opportunity you can to branch out and try new endeavors. Not only does this step give you the necessary background to advance your career, but it also allows you to discover your interests. For instance, you may never have realized how much you love caring for seniors until you take a job in geriatric management. Then, you can enter the workforce with a more focused career path.
3. Never miss a chance to network
While you carry the responsibility for taking steps forward in your nursing career, it's always a good idea to have other professionals in your corner. You never know when a colleague will have access to a new job opportunity. Plus, networking does more than put you in touch with people that could potentially advance your career. It also gives you more perspective as you learn new information and ideas.
While being friendly in general and going out of your way to introduce yourself are great ways for meeting other professionals, nurses may also benefit from joining professional organizations like the American Nurses Association.Read in 2 minutes
If you're a home health nurse or work in an assisted living facility, chances are you'll be seeing more baby boomer clients.
If you're a home health nurse or work in an assisted living facility, chances are you'll be seeing more baby boomer clients. U.S. Census Bureau data in 2015 revealed there are 75.4 Americans born between 1946-1964. While the number of Millennials exceeds this older generation, baby boomers have unique and often more health care needs. That's because a greater number of them are reaching retirement age, a demographic shift that began in 2011.
Understanding more about this generation may help you serve them better, adjust treatment plans to truly fit their needs and build more effective client-caretaker relationships. Here are a few traits to know:
1. Baby boomers are hard-working
In general, baby boomers tend to be hardworking in their jobs, which may carry over to other facets of life. A survey released by EY reviewed occupational behaviors of all working generations, including baby boomers. This generation scored the highest of all age groups in the "hardworking" category.
For health care professionals, this means you shouldn't be afraid to challenge older adults. Setting goals may be a great way to motivate these clients, too. For example, encourage a baby boomer with heart disease to exercise for 30 minutes three days each week.
"Baby boomers scored the lowest on adaptability."
2. Baby boomers may need help with transitions
Change is difficult for everyone, but it may be extra tough for baby boomers. The EY survey found that this generation scored the lowest when it came to being adaptable in the workplace. Age comes with some major transitions, from well-being to family roles. Health care professionals must understand the emotional difficulties baby boomers face with these shifts and be sympathetic and understanding. For instance, if a baby boomer patient enters an assisted living facility you work at, make the move easier by encouraging him or her to participate in social activities and be sure to frequently check on the individual.
3. Baby boomers need to stay active
Senior baby boomers are at the younger end of this age group, around 69 or 70 years old currently. However, the real challenges may come in later years, as research highlights. A study published in the journal Health Services Research noted that when 2030 arrives and this generation's well-being further declines, health care professionals must be prepared to leverage modern technology and medicine to keep senior clients active.
The authors advised communities to focus on ways to engage the elderly, such as encouraging volunteerism or working paid jobs. In this endeavor, it's vital to look at the baby boomers' personalities and preferences. After all, an animal lover may be more motivated to get out of bed and play with ready-to-adopt puppies than someone who is allergic to fur. As a health care professional, communicate with your clients to development active-oriented treatment plans unique to their needs.
For many providers, seeing a patient healthy and happy is enough to make the job all worthwhile. For baby boomers, it takes only a bit of understanding and compassion to make this happen.Read in 2 minutes
The health care industry lays claim to some of the most demanding jobs, and this is especially true for nurses.
The health care industry lays claim to some of the most demanding jobs. After all, an error as a home health nurse yields vastly more critical consequences than a mistake made by someone working in an office, for example. Many folks in this field, especially nurses, are prone to burnout.
The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as a combination of mental and physical stress brought on by work. It often makes people question their competency, become ultra-critical of themselves and be dissatisfied with their careers, among other symptoms. A number of factors can cause job burnout, but it often results from a compilation of sources like the workplace culture and duties.
For nurses, feeling the pressure of burnout can make getting up and going to work each day extremely difficult, and a positive attitude and clear thinking are key to providing optimal client care. As such, they must prioritize their own well-being and take steps to avoid this phenomenon. If you need a few ideas to get started, look no further:
Have a strong support system
As National Nurses United explained, emotions can be exhausting, and nurses face traumatic experiences on a daily basis. Perhaps they watch a client take his last breath or listen to family members' unrealistic expectations. The work facility - whether it's an assisted living center or hospital - should provide a support system for its employees. However, if nurses work independently, they'll need to find support on their own.
They can confide in family members or close friends, but speaking with a therapist may also be beneficial. Sometimes all nurses need is a sounding board to let out their emotions so they can return to work the next day feeling refreshed.
Nurses often can't help but take their work home with them, which contributes to burnout. Thoughts about something a client said or did can't be simply shut off, after all. While having a strong support system helps combat this, nurses can also use certain activities as distractions. Nursezone advised getting involved in a hobby that requires focus.
Laying in bed and surfing social media may not suffice. Instead, read a book, take up crocheting or try your hand at woodworking. When warm weather rolls around, head outdoors and plant some flowers. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening decreases cortisol levels.
Hang out with friends
The Mayo Clinic noted that lack of work-life balance can contribute to job burnout. For nurses, creating an effective equilibrium between their social lives and jobs can be extra challenging. They may work when their friends are sleeping, and once they do get a free day, they might just want to catch up on sleep. While a good night's rest is important for your health, so is remaining connected with loved ones. Take your old college roommate out for lunch, or return that call from your childhood best friend. While it may seem like a chore at first to give up a nap for an outing, it's going to pay off in the end. Once you reconnect, you'll see just how important these people are for your well-being.
While nurses care for clients' health needs, they also have to consider their own well-being to be effective on the job.Read in about 3 minutes