A Home Health Nurse does almost everything that a hospital nurse does. Sometimes more, because the facilities are only what is or is made available in the home. Primarily, we do the assessments of systems, wounds, I.V. sites, meds, any treatments, blood draws, IV flushes, dressing changes, or wound care the doctor has ordered, and teaching as indicated. It may be how to do the I.V. medication and flushes by himself or a family member, using aseptic technique; how to change the wound/ulcer dressing using correct procedure per MD orders; effects and side effects of unfamiliar or new medications; and any other physiology/dietary teaching relevant to the patient's condition or predispositions in order to prevent complications or recurrence. Safety teaching is an always present need, especially if a person lives alone. Teaching is done according to need, and in some situations homes are filthy, laden with pet hair and/or excrement, cluttered, poorly lighted, etc. , or immaculate palaces.
It is your choice in how to do the necessary teaching, taking into consideration exactly what situation and mental capabilities you are dealing with. Sometimes miracles do occur. Writing instructions for the nurse who may come in your absence is also your responsibility.
Reporting unusual signs or symptoms, changes in wounds, signs of infection, new pains or uncontrolled pain to the MD is your responsibility, as is making sure there is adequate follow-up so the ball doesn't get dropped with no resolve.
Then, of course, since the government stuck their noses in and began a temporary "sample" data collection on each patient to see if home health care is worthwihile, there is also a booklet of extra questions to be answered every 6 weeks and at specified other times, as, after a hospitalization. These documentations proved so well that home healthcare is worthwhile, that the "temporary" "sample" turned into a "required" amount of additional paperwork, which takes much nursing care time AWAY from the patient. It does, of course, provide quite a number of government workers with a guaranteed job. What I am saying is that the government has made the paperwork requirements in home health nursing almost insurmountable. Paperwork to patient care ratio is about 3:1 because of this creation.
It is enjoyable work because you meet hundreds of people of every different character and demeanor that you can imagine. You are also quite independent and have a lot of freedom to schedule your own day without a supervisor (who most probably has less experience and education
than you do!) breathing down your back.
It is an experience unlike any you will ever have in a hospital or other institutional setting because you have an extremely unique opportunity to think and create and resolve and teach! This is a very rewarding field of nursing.
If you choose to use any of this in your need, Melissa, go right ahead.