Being a home health nurse is a career for those who are self-driven, devoted, flexible, and able to work without little to no oversight. The day of a home health nurse is full of autonomy and flexibility, which is what makes it some nurses’ dream and other nurses’ nightmare — those who enjoy structure and direct supervision. To give an idea of how home health nurses operate, here is a day plucked from the log of a home health nurse.
A Day in the Life of a Home Health Nurse
7 am: Beginning the day
Up and ready to roll, I am sitting at my dining room table, enjoying my coffee while I organize my day. I finish up documenting on some of my client visits from yesterday and make a few phone calls — to confirm my first appointment of the day, to check in on my client from yesterday’s condition, and to the home health agency to see what they have to add to my list for today (there is usually something).
I have five appointments scheduled today — a new client assessment, a wound dressing change and IV antibiotic treatment, two follow-ups with my long-term clients, and a meeting with a client’s family to address concerns they expressed about their mother’s declining health. I have scheduled all the appointments for times that are convenient for my clients and confirmed them yesterday.
My kids are ready for school, so I pack up everything I’ll need for the day and we head out the door. I drop the kids off at school on the way to my first appointment.
11 am: Midday
I have visited three of my clients already and have about a half hour before I need to head to the fourth when I get a call from the home health agency about a client that the home health companion reported to the agency, concerned that the client isn’t managing their blood pressure well based on recent dizzy spells and near-falls. It is unexpected visits like this that have taught me to never overschedule myself. I have plenty of time for the visit and head over to the client’s house.
When I take her blood pressure it is very low and upon questioning the client, she states that her son sets all her pills up in a convenient case that makes it easy for her to take. I do an inventory of her pill containers and compare them to the orders, it appears the beta-blocker she uses to control her blood pressure should be cut in half and half a pill should be taken in the morning and a half before bed, but for two weeks, she has been taking a full pill twice daily. This is an easy fix, but requires some education for her son, since the client’s memory is slipping. I call the son and let him know what I found and he apologizes, his wife usually takes care of the pills, but she was out of town. I tell him, no worries and ask if he wants to add a home health nurse visit each week to manage it.
I head to my fourth scheduled client’s house, eating my lunch on the way. When I arrive, I find my client gasping for breath, doubled over on her couch. She is pale and she looks terrified. When I listen to her chest, I can hear crackles and I know she is experiencing an exacerbation of her congestive heart failure. I call 911 to get her to the hospital and then I call her family. I wait with her, getting her as comfortable as possible until EMS and her family arrive. I call report to the emergency room with a full history of the client. I ask the family to call me with updates and tell them I will come see her in the hospital if she is still there this evening.
4pm: End of Day
I have kept all five appointments today and managed to help a new client to me. It is the end of the traditional workday and my kids are waiting at school for me to pick them up. I pick up the kids and we head home, we all sit at the dining table, the kids do homework and I document the day’s work. The client I sent to the hospital was admitted, so after we eat dinner, I will go visit her in the hospital.
Being a home health nurse offers each day a unique opportunity full of different experiences with different clients. A career in home health offers workers the ability to help clients in need. If you are interested in a career as a home health nurse in Putnam County, Angels On-Call Homecare is hiring, apply now!