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Growing Opportunities for Nurses in Home Health Care

Growing Opportunities for Nurses in Home Health Care

Kathy Quan | NursingLink

Types of Care Options

Home health agencies offer three basic types of care: private duty, intermittent care, and hospice services. Each of these services requires nurses of all levels of education and licensure.

Private Duty Home Care:
• Care: A licensed or unlicensed caregiver works in shifts varying from 4 hours to 24/7 live-in care as needed.
• Coverage: Out-of-pocket pocket expense for the patient, not covered by Medicare or private insurance.
• Caregiver: Depending on the patient, the caregiver may be an unlicensed companion who provides no hands-on care, or an experienced RN. Since patients pay out-of-pocket, there are more opportunities for LPNs in this sector (who is always supervised by an RN).

Intermittent Care:
• Care: Intermittent care visits are about 30 minutes to an hour long and are spread out to allow the patient to assume portions of his own care in between.
• Coverage: Reimbursed by Medicare and private insurances for intermittent visits from services such as nurses (RNs and LPNs), therapists (PT, OT, ST), home health aides, and medical social workers.
• Caregiver: Care from a nurse or a therapist requires skilled need with measurable goals, such as wound care, or rehabilitative needs, after a debilitating illness or surgery.

Hospice Care:
• Care: Hospice care also falls under the home health industry’s umbrella as it is usually provided in the patient’s home or in a facility that is the patient’s place of residence (like a board & care home, or SNF).
• Coverage: Medicare and private insurances cover hospice care when the patient meets criteria for a terminal illness with six months or less to live.
• Caregiver: The patient must provide a willing and able caregiver or group of caregivers who are available to provide custodial and comfort care 24/7 under the direction of the hospice team (nurses, hospice aides, physicians, social workers, spiritual counselors, and volunteers) who make intermittent visits.

Rising costs of health care make home care an increasingly attractive option for patients. Yes, hospitals will always need nurses, and it is the most popular career path for nurses, but significant employment growth is not expected. However, home health and hospice care is a budding field set to boom in the near future. A career in this industry offers more unique challenges than ever before, with great options for career growth in nursing as well.

Resources:
BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011
Basic Statistics About Home Care CDC Home Health Statistics

Next: Is Home Health Right For You? >>

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