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What is a Home Health Care Nurse?

By Lori Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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A home health care nurse is typically a registered nurse (RN) who cares for patients in their homes instead of a hospital or clinical setting. A medical professional in this position may treat a variety of people, such as those who are suffering from chronic illnesses, recovering from surgery, or people who are limited by physical disabilities. A home health care nurse may check vital signs, such as temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. He or she may provide intravenous (IV) care, change wound dressings, or perform other tasks to assist someone who is sick.

The frequency of nursing visits often depends on the individual needs of each patient. Some people require assistance on a daily basis, while others need help less frequently. Vital signs are usually checked each time a home health care nurse visits a patient. Injections or medication can be administered according to the treating physician’s orders. Any changes to the individual’s condition are noted in a chart and communicated to the doctor.

A home health care nurse may work with several different sick or injured people of all ages, each with their own set of special needs. Sometimes, assistance is required only temporarily. If a patient lives with family, the RN may instruct them about how to care for their loved one during recovery. Others may need the services of a home health care nurse for a longer duration. He or she may be dealing with a chronic illness, for example, or the patient may live alone.

Some people have conditions that greatly limit their ability to perform basic tasks without assistance. They may need help with bathing and basic hygiene, like teeth-brushing. A home health care nurse can help the individual get out of bed, give him or her a sponge bath if necessary, or do other things to make a person more comfortable. In some cases, a private nurse may assist with food shopping or light housekeeping. Usually, however, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) will perform those types of chores, rather than an RN.

In addition to light housekeeping chores, a CNA may also accompany a patient to doctor visits and offer companionship. CNAs can usually be hired on a part-time or full-time basis. Some work independently, while others are employed by home healthcare agencies. They may provide much-needed assistance for patients in between an RN’s home visits. They are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and can perform some non-invasive procedures, like checking vital signs and changing wound dressings or colostomy bags.

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