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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

What to expect when the nurse comes to your house

Aug 02, 2018 04:40AM ● By Frances Hansen

The scene is becoming increasingly familiar: a knock on the door, which the patient opens to see a strange person with a couple of bags hanging off his or her shoulders.

“Hello. I’m your home care nurse.”

The population is aging. Baby boomers are retiring. From total knee replacements to infected wounds, and from pneumonia to post-operative status, the need for home care is on the rise. Insurances have created lines of limitations in the amount of days people can stay in the hospital. Wound vacs and IVs must be tended to properly in order to prevent complications. In essence, home care has become like a mini-hospital on wheels.

Your first visit from a home health care nurse usually comes on the day of discharge or the next day. Home visits can take up to two hours—you may be exhausted, but it’s important to visit with the nurse and let them get to know you and your needs.

Nurses will usually conduct a head-to-toe assessment and note any medications you’re on. They should make sure you understand proper medication, dosage, side effects and changes to report to your physician, and document follow-up visits to the doctor.

The nurse works with you to complete your care plan, which typically includes how many visits are anticipated in the 60-day certification period and may include such things as making sure blood glucose and vital signs are within physician-given parameters. It’s their job to educate patients on medications and wound care, changes to report to the medical staff, signs of infection, and other diagnosis-specific functions.

If you need care beyond the certification period, the nurse must obtain orders from your physician in compliance with Medicare and Medicaid guidelines. Most private insurances must provide authorization for additional visits. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or social work may follow to help guide you to independence.

Openness and honesty are important. Hopefully you and your nurse establish trust with one another, and you are confident in asking questions—no questions are off limits. If you don’t know the purpose of a medication, ask. If there’s still a question, the nurse should investigate and follow up with your doctor.

Know that health providers are there to serve you. If you find that the nurse is rude, in a rush and seemingly has no “bedside manner,” speak up about it. Family members are reluctant to speak up for fear of retaliation toward their loved one.

Time is another factor. The nurse is a professional, and should demonstrate responsibility when it comes to arranging the visit time. Keep in mind that the nurse has other patients to see, usually in a wide geographical area, but it’s rude and unprofessional for a nurse to show up late without letting you know, or to not show up to a scheduled appointment at all.

Open communication and mutual trust with your nurse results in less anxiety and helps the healing process. Hopefully, you can look back on your recovery with accomplishment and satisfaction, knowing that you participated in the plan of care to help yourself get better.

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