After I answered the phone, the caller began telling me her story, which is so very common in our line of work. “Dad wants to stay home as he ages. He has always said the only way he is moving out is feet first. But he has been in the hospital and is going to be discharged with tube feedings and will require meds via his peg tube. As much as I love him and want to honor his wishes, I don’t know how to bring him home.”
Having been in the home care service industry for the better part of two decades, it still surprises me that everyone doesn’t know all about home care. It shouldn’t, because who really thinks about in-home nursing care, or senior care, when they don’t have a loved one who needs such services? We would all rather think about our next family vacation, or getting our kids through school, or so many other parts of our active lives. And then, suddenly, we are in full crisis mode: a loved one needs senior care or home nursing care and we are not aware of any of the available resources. So, even though I should know better, I am still just a bit surprised to learn how big a secret home care is. Which is why I am always thrilled to share with others the true life-saver that home care services can be.
Back to my caller, I let her know that in all likelihood (doctors and the rest have the final say, of course) her dad could come home with his peg tube with licensed nurses caring for him at home. And the relief in her voice was palpable and reminded me yet again why I love my job.
So what kind of care is available at home for those with more serious medical conditions? Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are available to come to the comfort of your home and assist with all sorts of patient diagnoses and treatments. Many of the clients who utilize a nurse for in-home nursing care are those who have ALS and are on a ventilator and receive all or much of their nutrition intravenously. Other clients have spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries and similarly require vents and tube feedings. Some clients require wound care, assistance with injections for IVF, insulin injections, lab draws, medication management, colostomy care and more. Pediatrics and adults with special needs also benefit from nursing services; it’s not just aging adults. Sometimes, individuals or their families want nursing care merely to provide nursing expertise, even though a lesser qualified care professional, such as a nurse’s aide would be able to perform all required duties. This provides a peace of mind that is well worthwhile to many families. And of course, RNs and LPNs assist with the non-medical care needs in the home care setting, including bathing, dressing, ambulation, transfers, toileting, meals and cosmetic assistance.
Skilled Nurses are available to provide care for 1-hour visits if appropriate, or for continuous care around the clock. Sometimes, clients are best served by having an RN or LPN for only a few hours a day, with Certified Nursing Aides and caregivers providing care the remainder of time. Home care offers great flexibility in the care of a loved one.