Are you a nurse working in a hospital setting or a person interested in helping others —curious about home health as a career path? For many, the personal reward of helping hospitalized adults returning home, disabled persons, children with special needs, and the elderly is priceless.
Ask your parents where they want to live when they are older and need help. Their response will usually be "at home." Medical and non-medical in-home care workers support family caregivers, help aging adults remain independent in their home, and provide medical services as needed.
The good news is, whether you are a licensed medical professional or not, you can find a position that meets your lifestyle, family, and personal goals. Is education and job advancement at the top of your list, or is a flexible schedule a priority? Home health as a career choice offers it all.
These five reasons for considering home health as a career may lead you to the job of your dreams.
1. Build relationships and see the results of your efforts
If you currently work in a hospital or nursing home setting, you see patients come and go. You enjoy the variety of work but never know what happens to patients after they discharge.
Having a servant's heart for helping others, plus other essential skills, leads to success working in home health:
- As a home health nurse, you create, monitor care plans, and visit clients in their homes or the communities where they live to build one-to-one relationships and personalize care
- Home care CNAs or HHAs build ongoing relationships with clients through scheduled visits that support medication reminding, personal care, meals, companionship, and other activities
- Being part of a care team in the office or the field supports care coordination between medical providers and clients while keeping family members up to date
When interviewing, ask about the most common client care situations—including the more complicated ones. Understanding the range of clients and family situations an agency serves can confirm if you have the skills or may benefit from additional training.
2. Each day is different from the next
A home health career offers daily variety and challenges. If you work in a hospital, nursing home, or care community, you know that needs change quickly. A client doing well today may have a change in health condition tomorrow.
Instead of a routine visit, nurses may manage medications or provide infusion services to help patients recover from surgery, an infection or to improve nutritional needs. CNAs or HHAs can use their creative skills with clients interested in exercise or social activities. Clients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia may enjoy more 1:1 activities like participating in craft projects, listening or dancing to music, assisting with making a family recipe, or the simple act of folding laundry.
Becoming involved in the lives of clients and their family members can be an emotional experience. Home care workers must possess professional skills to respond calmly and positively in unexpected situations. The ability to problem-solve under pressure offers a higher level of care and peace of mind to clients and their family members.
When interviewing, ask questions about training, support, and response plans for emergency or unexpected situations. Do you have the ability to adapt to changing conditions? Do you enjoy self-directed work? Working in home health is a good fit for individuals who are conscientious and possess the ability to think on their feet.
3. Enjoy flexible work schedules
Home health is a 24/7 world. So, if you're looking for a full-time Monday through Friday position, PRN, or are available evenings, overnights, or weekends, a career in home health offers a variety of scheduling options.
Individuals who enjoy working independently find the variety offered by direct client care desirable. Home care agencies have a mix of regularly scheduled clients, clients who need last-minute assistance, and others requiring more or less care based on the timing of hospital or nursing home admits or discharges.
The best opportunity to receive the work schedule you prefer is to make sure the scheduler knows your availability. If you are new to working in home health, it's important to know that changes in client situations may result in temporary scheduling gaps or shift changes.
You may have a client who suddenly needs more hours of support with activities of daily living or whose hours are reduced due to being hospitalized. When this happens, communicate with the scheduler that you will accept last-minute client requests or substitute for others unable to fill a shift. Being a flexible team player is appreciated and supports trading shifts when you might need time off.
4. Gain specialized skills
Learning about the variety of client care needs served by an agency can help identify areas of possible specialization. Persons with dementia or Alzheimer's disease have different care needs than clients diagnosed with cancer, COPD, diabetes, or arthritis.
Not everyone is interested or able to shift their skills to meet the unique needs of all clients. Some health care professionals prefer caring for babies, young children, or the disabled. Others are more comfortable with the elderly, persons with memory loss, or brain injuries.
Finding a good match between your interests and the clients served by an agency is essential to creating a mutually beneficial working relationship. Home health is one of the fastest-growing job markets in the medical field, serving a wide variety of client needs.
5. Create a long-term career path
If you are interested in building a career, consider home health. You can join a company in one position, gain education, and seek to advance. Instead of looking for just another paycheck, home health is a career where you can use and develop your strengths while making a significant difference in the lives of persons you help.
It's important to know that not all home health care agencies are the same. If you're not familiar, investigate the difference between companion-only agencies, A or B licensed companies, and medical home care agencies. Then choose the career path that offers the best fit for your short- and long-term goals.
BrightStar Care of Fairfax is an independently owned and operated agency offering various positions to allow you to make a difference by providing compassionate and personal in-home care. At BrightStar Care of Fairfax, even though you may work alone in the homes of clients—you’re never truly alone. Our agencies’ teams including the Director of Nursing, office manager, home care liaison, supervisors, and others are a phone call away. We offer training and support that goes above and beyond for our employees. Contact us to apply for a job, or to speak to a BrightStar Care representative to learn more about open positions, benefits, and more call (703) 267-2380.
About Pamela D. Wilson
PAMELA D WILSON MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA is a national caregiving expert, author, advocate, and speaker educating family caregivers, older adults, professionals, groups, and corporations. Since 1999, Pamela has been an entrepreneur and business owner providing direct service: in-home care, care management, and legal and financial appointments. In addition, she consults about elder care, care navigation, caregiving services, and caregiver support programs with families, health and care providers, attorneys, and financial planners.
©2021 Pamela D Wilson, All Rights Reserved.