Who Provides Care in the Home?
When it comes to home care, there are a variety of health care workers who individuals and their families may come in contact with. These health care workers include:
Registered Nurses (RNs)
According to the United States Department of Labor, Registered Nurses, regardless of specialty or work setting, treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients' family members. RNs record patients' medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.
In a home care setting, RNs teach patients and their families how to manage their illnesses or injuries, explain post-treatment home care needs; diet, nutrition, and exercise programs; and self-administration of medication. At-home nursing care is often as follow-up care after discharge from a hospital or from a rehabilitation, long-term care, or skilled nursing facility.
When caring for patients, RNs establish a care plan or contribute to an existing plan that is developed by the physician. Plans may include numerous activities, such as teaching self-monitoring techniques, administering medication, including careful checking of dosages and avoiding interactions; starting, maintaining, and discontinuing intravenous (IV) lines for fluid, medication, blood, and blood products; administering therapies and treatments; observing the patient and recording those observations; and consulting with physicians and other healthcare clinicians.
Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurses (LVN, LPNs)
LPNs and LVNs care for people who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. They care for patients in many ways. Often, they provide basic bedside care. They can also measure and record patients' vital signs such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They also prepare and give injections and enemas, monitor catheters, dress wounds, and give alcohol rubs and massages. To help keep patients comfortable, they assist with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene, moving in bed, standing, and walking. They might also feed patients who need help eating. Experienced LPNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides.
Personal Care Aides (PCAs)
Personal Care Aides assist the elderly, convalescents, or persons with disabilities with daily living activities at the person's home or in a care facility. Their responsibilities may include housekeeping (making beds, doing laundry, washing dishes) and preparing meals in addition to personal care such as bathing and dressing. They may also assist with transportation to and from physician offices and routine errands.
Home Health Aides (HHAs)
Home Health Aides provide routine individualized healthcare similar to the Personal Care Aides mentioned above; however, the home health aide has received state-approved advanced training so they are able to recognize any undesirable signs and symptoms in patients and report them immediately.
Physical Therapists (PTs)
Physical therapists work with a wide variety of adult and pediatric patients who have difficulty moving around their environment. Their purpose is to improve the patient’s mobility so that the patient is safe in their home or community. Physical therapists are also experts at providing specialty services to patients experiencing joint replacement surgery.
Occupational Therapists (OTs)
Occupational therapists are specialists at working with adult and pediatric patients who have difficulty conducting their activities of daily living, such as bathing or dressing, or are cognitively impaired, which means the patient has difficulty remembering or processing information. The purpose of the occupational therapist is to improve the patient’s ability to take care of himself safely in their home.
Speech Language Pathologists (STs)
Patients who have difficulty speaking or swallowing, often in combination with difficulty following directions, can most benefit from treatments from a speech language pathologist. The speech language pathologist often works with patients who have had a stroke or who have had surgery around the face or neck.
Medical Social Workers (MSWs)
Medical Social Workers assist patients and their families to adapt to their illness and also how to use the community resources available to them.