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Health Care: Hospital vs. Home

Due to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, an overall theme of the last three years has been an emphasis on “staying home.” While at first, it was vital to our health to stay home, over the years, it has allowed our homes to evolve from a safe space and encompass many things we didn’t think we’d initially consider doing in our homes. Our homes have become our workplaces, gyms, and creative spaces. And we are now seeing that this transformation is also evolving to include our health care. Home is the safest and most comfortable space for so many of us, so wouldn’t it make sense that recovering from an illness or surgery in your own home would be the most appealing and practical choice? This evolution of health care shows us multiple benefits to home health care rather than hospital or inpatient settings. According to many online health care resources, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked much discussion about the concept of “hospital at home.” Much of the care that was once only available to people in a hospital setting can now be provided safely in clients’ homes, and this concept comes with many benefits to both nurses and clients.

The first, and arguably most important, benefit is the relationships nurses can build with their clients when caring for them in their homes. In a hospital, a nurse’s primary goal is to work to safely discharge a patient home as quickly as possible. While this type of nursing has its own set of rewards, it is often very “task-oriented” and doesn’t allow for the opportunity to get to know patients as people. Most of the time spent as a hospital nurse involves assessments, medications, procedures, and discharge planning. As a home care nurse, you are caring for the same clients either daily or multiple times a week in the setting that is most comfortable and beneficial for them – their own homes. You get to experience a side of the client that may not be evident in the acute hospital setting and you will most likely get to meet and interact with your client’s friends and loved ones. Many home health nurses describe how fulfilling establishing these bonds with their clients can be, describing many of their clients as “a second family.”

Many home health nurses claim that another massive benefit to working with clients in their homes versus the hospital is the pace of your day. While working in a hospital, a nurse may have an assignment of 7-10 people all waiting and relying on them to do several tasks that may or may not, depending on staffing and time constraints, be completed before the patient is ready for discharge. Home health nursing allows you to dedicate a portion of your day to one-on-one time with your client, a definite departure from the crazy rush of hospital nursing. One of the more common complaints of hospital nurses is not having enough time in a busy hospital shift to focus on patient education, namely the teaching of preventative medicine that would help the patient care for themselves and avoid the situations that may cause them to be re-hospitalized in the future. However, home health nursing is the exact opposite. You get to know your clients personally and learn their needs, limitations, and learning style. Every client has a portion of the home care nurse’s day allotted just for them, allowing room for personalizing each client’s care plan. There is more time for teaching and preventative care. Diet, mood, sleep, exercise, and emotional health can all be part of the home health nurse’s time with the client. This type of holistic care is rewarding for the health care provider and highly beneficial to the client’s well-being and preventing future hospitalizations.

Lastly, a benefit for many nurses pursuing home health nursing is the chance to maximize and expand their nursing skills. Many nurses describe home health nursing as an opportunity not only to improve and enhance their assessment skills but also to gain a sense of independence in how they practice nursing. Home health care offers a variety of client diagnoses and the opportunity to individualize client care based on the abilities and needs at the time, which can be very empowering and fulfilling for nurses. A chance to use medical skills such as IV therapy, pain management, and post-operative care, along with having the time to use teaching skills to educate their clients and contribute to their everyday well-being and ongoing long-term care, is a win for both clients and nurses in this rapidly evolving health care environment.

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