HealthKeeperz on Why Home Health Care and Hospice Matter for Nurses and Patients

Home health care and hospice serve patients in many ways, but they are also a benefit to caregivers, particularly nurses. The staff at HealthKeeperz, a Pembroke, North Carolina-based home health provider, believes once individuals considering home health care as an option understand the advantages of receiving routine nursing care in their homes rather than in an institutional setting, the choice of the former will become clear.

Numerous studies, including those conducted by AARP and the Dartmouth Atlas, reveal that most of America’s aging population would prefer to remain in a home setting for as long as possible, if given the option. Per a Nov. 28, 2016, article in Home Health Care Management & Practice: “As patients become increasingly engaged with their care, and the health care system strives to empower patients in their care, patient preference and satisfaction are increasingly becoming key performance measures. When asked about their care preferences, older Americans overwhelmingly articulate a desire to age in place and receive care at home rather than in institutional settings.” 

Such is often the case when dealing with an end-of-life scenario. “If an older person wants to die at home, receiving end-of-life care for pain and other symptoms, and makes this known to health care providers and family, it is less likely he or she will die in a hospital receiving unwanted treatments,” the National Institute on Aging (part of the National Institutes of Health) noted.

Nurses are an integral component of any hospice team. They serve as a vital link, not only administering medical care but staying informed about a patient’s wishes and changes in their condition. This is the reason hospice nurses are so often the first line of communication between patients and their caregivers, doctors, and family members.

The experts at HealthKeeperz note that there’s a wealth of anecdotal evidence to confirm that the home health care scenario reaps a bounty of positive outcomes for many individuals. Benefits cited include an increased sense of independence; a greater feeling of safety, comfort, and convenience; avoidance of unnecessary hospital visits; more personalized attention; a higher quality of care; a coordinated team approach that offers a wider range of services; and a proactive focus that ultimately saves money — all of which help lead to an improved mental outlook for those in care.

The Dual Advantages of Nursing Care in a Home Health Environment

One of the most obvious advantages to professional home health care is that it affords both nurses and patients the ability to interact without the stresses of an institutional environment; however, according to the HealthKeeperz team, there are other bonuses as well.

As medical professionals, nurses receive extensive training in patient care and can provide services, as prescribed by a physician, that nonmedical personnel cannot. Nurses specializing in gerontology, end-of-life/hospice care, dementia, and other related conditions are particularly suited to dealing with the needs and nuances of long-term care. Thanks to their training and experience, hospice team nurses generally possess a superior degree of understanding and empathy, which can be a great comfort to patients and their families during difficult and emotionally taxing times.

Since nurses become intimately familiar with a patient’s routine and general condition in the course of their duties, they’re in a unique position to observe changes that may require medical intervention and can make recommendations to primary care physicians based on those observations. This is especially true in a home environment that allows for an uninterrupted focus of attention that provides enhanced communication between nurses and patients.

Nurses are front-line educators of patients and families, disseminating information about diagnoses and treatments for illnesses such as diabetes or heart conditions in informative and easy-to-understand language. Doing so in a calm home setting often makes the process easier and less stressful than in an impersonal hectic hospital setting.

A nurse can become a patient’s strongest advocate, nowhere more so than in an end-of-life hospice scenario. A nurse’s duty of care includes regular communication and adherence to a patient’s wishes. Being able to affirm and relay a patient’s requests shared during at-home visits (particularly those that relate to advance directives and end-of-life considerations) to family members, caregivers, service providers, clergy, and other involved medical personnel can become crucially important in cases where the patient can no longer speak for themselves.

Advantages of Home Nursing Care for Nurses

Whether practicing home health or in an institutional setting, nurses are charged with keeping patients’ medical records current. Maintaining up-to-date records ensures optimal outcomes. Nurses are subject to fewer distractions and interruptions in a home care environment, making accurate record-keeping much easier to achieve.

Home care offers nurses flexibility and broader employment options. For RNs who prefer to take a more nontraditional employment route, there’s a host of home care providers that provide terms suited to those who require a staggered work schedule to accommodate family or school obligations, a preference for day/evening work hours, rotating shifts, and so forth.

In a hospital setting, nurses care for multiple patients. However, home care nurses deal with one patient at a time. Personalized, one-on-one visits help nurses become more familiar and comfortable with patients and their families, which isn’t something that can always take place in a busy institutional setting. While an enhanced interpersonal connection benefits the patient, it also benefits the nurse psychologically and emotionally. After all, it’s easier and more rewarding to care for someone you care about.

Medicare Advantages for Home Health Care Nursing

In addition to the many advantages to home health care nursing for patients and nurses, according to a study on Medicare patients published in the March 2019 edition of the American Journal of Accountable Care, home health care is a tremendously beneficial alternative to hospitalization for millions of Medicare beneficiaries across the country.

In a study of Medicare patients admitted to emergency rooms presenting with serious illnesses (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia), a comparison was made between patients admitted to hospitals following ER visits and those who received home health care instead. “The results showed the group of patients who were treated in a home-based setting were significantly less likely to be admitted or readmitted to the hospital,” the report stated. “Similarly, the home health group had fewer visits to the emergency room as a whole than the patients who were immediately admitted to the hospital.”

The bottom line? Home health care delivered improved patient outcomes and was also a more cost-effective option than hospitalization, “saving both Medicare and taxpayers money.”

HealthKeeperz Warns: Not All Home Health Care Is Created Equal

Whether it centers on an end-of-life situation or its purpose is the ongoing treatment of a chronic condition, the most effective home health care addresses a whole person, not simply their symptoms and physical routines. The mind and the spirit, as well as the body, must be taken into consideration. That’s why it’s crucial to connect with a provider who stresses holistic, whole-patient care and is aligned with your belief system and values when seeking home care for either yourself or a loved one.

In addition to trained nurses, Medicare case counseling, hospice, and other vital services, some home health providers, such as Christian-focused HealthKeeperz, offer faith-based counseling for nursing staff, employees, and patients. The HealthKeeperz family believes participating in a faith community brings patients, their loved ones, and their caregivers closer together and is a great source of spiritual comfort.

Source: Financial Content