You vs. Home Healthcare
Author: Shannon Miller
By guest blogger Tammy Badida:
You vs. Home Healthcare -“Why is there a nurse in my kitchen?”
I remember asking myself this question once, and it was certainly a turning point in my caretaking journey. For us, home healthcare came in at a time when my husband needed twice-daily IV antibiotics and wound care. It was an interesting point along the road, because it not only made me realize that I indeed could not do everything my husband needed, but it also involved an “invasion” of our own personal, peaceful space.
Home healthcare often involves relinquishing some control as a caregiver. In our first round with HHC, the agency was assigned to us by the hospital. The first appointment was at least two hours spent in my living room going over the loads of information that I was just starting to understand myself. I did not realize at this point that I actually had a choice (or at least as much of one as insurance allowed) in what agency I wanted taking care of my loved one.
In our “rookie stages” of HHC, we had nurses in our home anywhere from 5-7 days a week. Given this time, I picked up a thing or two along the way. HHC is a unique experience, but just as you would with anyone who comes into your home on a regular basis, it is of the utmost benefit for the caregiver of the patient to develop a good working relationship with the visiting nurses.
Honestly, it was a difficult adjustment with some of the initial nurses. I could usually tell immediately if my husband was comfortable with whoever the agency sent. He was the one who was being treated, and if he wasn’t comfortable, then neither was I. I quickly learned that I could request different nurses. Some nurses might, for instance, be more proficient with PICC lines than others, or even gentler with changing bandages. These are the slight changes that minimize the discomfort as the transition from hospital to home takes place.
Sometimes, caregivers and patients may find themselves in a place where they are just not comfortable with a specific HHC agency. You have the power and the right to choose who comes into your home to treat your loved one. There are definitely some really great agencies out there, and sometimes it takes being a vocal advocate for your loved one to find the one that works.
We were fortunate enough to develop a good “working relationship” with some of the nurses we saw on a regular basis. I learned that there was a bit of give-and-take to making HHC work best for my husband. While doctor’s appointments were virtually impossible to reschedule, most of the nurses were able to work with us to accommodate our time frame. HHC nurses generally make their “rounds” each day, and they can usually be flexible. Don’t be afraid to check.
More often than not, you will be problem free with HHC. If there is the unfortunate situation where you or your loved one is dissatisfied, there is usually an on-call nurse manager that you can contact. In any case, working with HHC is often a “trial run” scenario. Find who and what will work the best for you and your loved one.
“The blessings that come from reaching out to others cannot be overestimated.” Barbara Johnson
Be sure to come back for next Tuesday’s article: “Can we really be guilt free?”
Article by Tammy Badida