Home healthcare is a vital part of the healthcare field, which has an ever-growing number of nurses who want to specialize in this area to take care of homebound patients. Many registered nurses and licensed practitioner nurses also join this field to monitor patients and provide them with essential medical, psychiatric, and hospice care. Like other nursing types, home healthcare nursing is a rewarding field. However, it comes with its own set of challenges. As a home healthcare nurse, you may not have additional support or immediate backup to deal with issues. So, it is crucial to learn about these challenges and be prepared in advance to avoid any severe complications.
In this article, we have shared some challenges that you may face as a home healthcare nurse. So, keep reading to learn more!
According to various research studies and reports, nurses have a significant risk of needlestick injuries. While all nurses are at risk, home healthcare nurses are at a higher risk because they have to work in a different environment than hospital nurses. These injuries have an incident rate of about 5.25%, which means one out of twenty home visits can feature a needlestick injury. While pain or bleeding is the primary concern, needlestick injuries have more severe consequences. For instance, nurses can be exposed to HIV, hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases. Due to this, nurses have to experience pain and emotional stress until they get negative test results.
The second most common challenge home healthcare nurses face is to lift patients. Due to improper lifting, nurses may suffer from injuries. Although they learn techniques to lift patients during their degree programs, such as an AGNP Master’s program, sometimes the situation does not favor them. For instance, most home healthcare nurses work alone, and they may not have adequate equipment or additional help to lift a patient, so they may sprain their backs. Besides, many nurses complain of developing chronic lower back pain and herniated disks due to the constant lifting of patients.
Besides external risks, sometimes the patient becomes the primary challenge for a home healthcare nurse. Many patients don’t welcome a home healthcare nurse and consider them a threat to their independence. As a result, they may become violent towards the nurses in some cases. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports violence to be the reason for about 12.2% of all injuries in registered nurses. These injuries usually occur when a patient violently lashes out at a nurse while getting an injection or during a blood draw. Nurses typically don’t have anyone to help them in such situations except maybe a family member.
Violence is common in the nursing profession, whether it comes from patients or their family members. Some households are violent by nature, especially if one of the family members has aggression issues or substance abuse problems. When they see a foreign presence in their home, they usually don’t receive it well and may end up being violent towards the nurse. Besides, some family members may also yell or misbehave with the home healthcare nurse if their patient starts deteriorating. So, a nurse’s safety becomes jeopardized in violent households. They must remain vigilant and inform officials at the hospital if the environment is unsafe.
Homebound patients may not be living in germ-free and hygienic conditions, unlike those in the hospital. Their houses may be unclean, especially if they live alone or with young children. Moreover, they may have pets with diseases, or the place may have hazardous materials. These factors put a nurse’s safety at risk because home healthcare nurses have no control over the patient’s living conditions. As a result, they are exposed to germs and diseases while at a patient’s house. Effective sanitization methods can prevent the occurrence of such incidents.
Inadequate Medical Equipment
Since home healthcare nurses take care of patients at home, they may not have access to all the medical equipment. Due to lack of appropriate equipment, their chances of injury increase. Moreover, they may also be unable to provide the patient with the necessary treatment. Getting reinforcements from the hospital is not always an option, so nurses should carry their own equipment for emergency cases.
Unfamiliar Tools and Techniques
When nurses are in the hospital, they learn by watching other medical professionals perform the different procedures and use various tools. Moreover, they can also ask for guidance if they don’t know how to use some equipment or implement a technique. However, home healthcare nurses usually work alone at the patient’s residence, and they may not get instant feedback. In such cases, if they are given unfamiliar tools or asked to perform a new procedure, they may struggle. Besides, doing so also jeopardizes the patient’s health and well-being. Healthcare facilities need to keep this in mind when deploying a nurse for home healthcare.
Conveyance-related problems may not immediately pop up in your mind when thinking about challenges a home healthcare nurse encounters. However, transportation to and from the patient’s place can also be a sore spot. Many home healthcare nurses attend to 6-8 patients during their shift. So, they have to commute between all these places and then back to the hospital. If they have a car, the transportation may become more comfortable than the subway. But it will increase the upkeep cost for the vehicle. It includes the fuel cost and repairs for the wear and tears it endures each day.
Lack of Support
Home healthcare nursing is a profession of solitary nature. Most nurses have to work alone, so they cannot have a support network like the hospital nurses. Hospital nurses can turn to their senior nurses or doctors with their queries, but home healthcare nurses are deprived of this luxury. Even if they contact the hospital to get information, they have to wait until the concerned person is available. So, lack of adequate and timely support is another issue home healthcare nurses face while on duty.
The Bottom Line
Nursing is a rewarding profession, but that doesn’t mean it is free of challenges. While nursing as a whole is a demanding and challenging profession, home healthcare nurses experience more difficulties than hospital nurses. So, nurses must be prepared to face and overcome these challenges through proper training and education. It will help them perform better and provide essential healthcare to their patients without being undermined by these challenges.
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