Home health care jobs are growing quickly in the nursing industry. In the United States, it’s expected to grow 36% by 2028, a considerably much faster rate than the average job.
As a nursing professional in this setting, you primarily care for patients in the familiarity of their own home and assist them with daily living tasks and personal care. There are plenty of advantages to working in this field, and nurses who love working closely and interacting with patients frequently outside of a health care facility will find they are well-suited to home health.
Here are some of the biggest perks of working in home health care and how you can leverage your skills and interests to enter the field.
1. There Are Opportunities at All Levels of Nursing.
There are many home health care jobs for nursing professionals at all levels of education and experience. You don’t even need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
Certified Nursing Assistant or Home Health Aide
CNAs or, in some states, home health aides (HHAs), provide basic care to patients under the direction of a registered nurse (RN). A CNA or HHA’s responsibilities range from helping with activities of daily living tasks like bathing, feeding, and dressing patients to medical tasks like taking vital signs and reporting concerns to an RN or licensed vocational nurse (LVN), otherwise known as a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
For these types of positions, you’ll need to complete an accredited course and earn a certification while meeting your state’s requirements.
Licensed Vocational Nurse
LVNs also work under an RN to provide basic nursing care, including administering certain types of medication or changing dressings for wound care. You can become an LVN through a non-degree accredited program or after your first year in a two-year RN program.
RNs in a home health care setting provide more advanced levels of nursing care while also overseeing CNAs, HHAs, and LVNs. They create a care plan catered to the specific patients, depending on their needs, and continuously monitor and assess the patient’s healing and progress.
You can study to become an RN through a two-year associate’s program or other accredited programs, but many RNs choose to go on with schooling to get bachelor’s degrees to be more competitive to hire.
2. You Can Work in a Variety of Settings.
Home health nurses often see patients in long-term care (LTC) facilities. But plenty of other health care organizations hire and work with these nursing professionals. Here are a few common settings where you could work if you pursue a home health nursing career:
- Personal homes of patients
- Facilities for the elderly or other persons with disabilities
- Continuing care retirement communities
- Assisted living facilities
- Residential facilities for intellectually or developmentally disabled people
3. There’s a Growing Demand for Home Health Nurses.
As already mentioned, the rate of job growth for home health care occupations is much faster than the average growth for most other occupations.
There are many contributing factors to such a rapid growth in home health care. People are living longer thanks to advances in medicine, and with age comes a decline in mobility and cognitive function that may require the assistance of a nursing professional.
Additionally, people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are beginning to rely on home health care nurses as alternatives to nursing homes and hospitals to relieve the burden on family members. In some cases, patients who simply need help with basic everyday tasks can save money by hiring a home health care professional as opposed to moving into a nursing facility.
4. You’ll Use and Build a Wide Range of Skills.
As a home health care nurse, you’ll develop various types of technical and social skills. Some skills you’ll want to work on include navigating different software, like medical or project management, providing exceptional customer/personal service, and maintaining clear written and verbal communication.
As for soft skills, professionals in this field practice social perceptiveness, empathy, critical thinking, time management, and decision-making to name just a few of the important ones. These skills and more help you provide the best care possible to your patients.
5. It’s Often More Flexible Than Facility Shifts.
Home health care work allows for a more flexible schedule with sometimes less-intense demands than working in other nursing settings, like the ICU or emergency room.
You might not have to work the typical 12-hour shifts most hospital nurses have. Many home health nurses are able to create their own schedule and choose their own assignments if they’re employed through a health care staffing agency.
While on the job, you’ll be working more independently, able to focus on one patient in front of you at a time, and you’ll likely have greater autonomy over your work.
6. You’ll Form Meaningful Relationships With Your Patients.
Home health care is an ideal field for a “people person” who loves interacting with others and forming close, meaningful relationships. Since you’ll be caring for patients on a one-on-one basis in the comfort of their own homes, you’ll often be able to spend more time with them than you would in a hospital setting. This allows you to talk with them, offer more emotional support, and develop stronger connections.
Meaningful social relationships have been proven to help lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve cardiovascular issues. That’s why it’s crucial that your home health care clients (and their loved ones) trust and feel comfortable with you.
7. You’ll Make a Huge Difference in Patients’ Lives.
Every health care professional has the ability and opportunity to make a big difference in a patient’s life, and home health nurses are a perfect example. Home health workers improve quality of life and ensure patients are comfortable, especially if they’re in long term care.
While you might feel like the work you do (e.g. bathing, dressing, and feeding patients) doesn’t make any significant impact, the care you provide — and the way you provide it — can directly affect a patient’s emotional and physical health.
For example, patients who are bathed regularly tend to feel much more comfortable and better about themselves. Clients who are fed nutritious meals or given medication for comfort/pain management will be better able to relax and get decent sleep.
8. It’s Easy to Find Flexible Shifts in Home Health Care.
There are many home health care jobs in the health care industry. If you find yourself needing specific shifts to work around other matters in your life, home health care can offer you that flexibility. It does typically require you to have some form of transportation, but depending on the patient, you can often set up appointments to work with your own life’s schedule.