LPNs in Home Health Care Settings
Because of the increasing trend to hire RNs instead of LPNs in hospitals, new LPNs today are more likely to find work in non-hospital settings. One of the most popular settings for LPNs is the growing industry of home health care.
Is a home health care job for you? Working in a client’s home is very different from working in a hospital, nursing home or ambulatory surgical center. Although the basic bedside care services you provide may be identical, the context in which you provide these services is unique.
Many home health care nurses are hired and placed in clients’ homes by agencies. For example, Pam Malone is an LPN who works for HealthCare Plus, an Ohio agency that places nurses in temporary positions and has 65 LPNs on staff. During an interview conducted by Business First, Malone said that providing home care relieves her from “dickering with other nurses and hospital administrators.”
Whether you choose to work for an agency or advertise your home health care services to private clients, working in a home is often quieter and less combative. You may be responsible for supervising home health aides, or you may work collaboratively with one or two other nurses. However, on the whole, you will enjoy a level of independence and autonomy rarely experienced by LPNs in hospital settings.
On the other hand, if you thrive on excitement, the relatively subdued atmosphere of a home setting may give you cabin fever. A second LPN interview by Business First admitted, “I’ve never enjoyed home care. It’s way too boring for me,” adding that she prefers the excitement of the Intensive Care Unit.
Earn More Money
Malone, the LPN quoted above, said that she works 60 to 70 hours a week. She provides care for a woman who is unable to speak and cannot eat without assistance. Even though Malone has to purchase private health insurance, she stated that she still makes more money than she would in a hospital.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly mean wage for LPNs who work in home health care is $19.91 and the annual mean wage is $41,410. However, pay scales vary widely between states: an LPN living in Connecticut, the top paying state for this occupation, can expect to take home nearly $52,000 each year.
Although home health care in general can be a more lucrative choice than working in a hospital or long term care facility, you will need to factor in all the variables to decide if it’s really your best bet. Weigh the salary against the cost of insurance (if not provided by your employer), transportation and other incidental costs.
Get to Know Your Patients
Home health care gives you the chance to really get to know your patients. You are with them for long periods of time, sometimes day and night. You can develop rich and rewarding relationships with your patients, and some LPNs report that the increased intimacy in home health care is a prime motivating factor.
You may also enjoy working with a wide range of health care issues. Home health care LPNs care for patients with every type of ailment, from cancer to diabetes. Although home health care calls to mind an older age group, you may find yourself caring for sick children, athletes recovering from sports injuries, or expectant mothers who are experiencing complications.
Although home health care is a unique setting for nursing, many of your actual duties will be familiar to you if you’ve worked in any other settings. You will provide basic bedside care to your patients, such as taking vital signs, giving injections, monitoring catheters, applying dressings, and giving alcohol rubs or massages. You will help your patients to be comfortable by assisting them with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene. In certain states, LPNs may also administer prescribed medicines or start intravenous fluids as part of the home health care services provided.
Home health care is not for every nurse, but if you’re entering the profession of nursing you should be aware of this growing field of nursing. If you have the skills and disposition to provide home health care, you may find this an interesting and pleasant way to start off your nursing career or make a mid-career job switch.