Home Care nurses stay client centred

Jodi Schellenberg
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All nurses put their patients first, but home care nurses are always client centred.

The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region home care nurses gathered together on Wednesday night for a barbecue in honour of National Nurses Week.

Like all home care workers, home care nurses provide care for clients in their own homes.

“A nurse actually does assessments on the clients and we do everything we can to keep the client in the home instead of going to the hospital or a long-term care facility,” said Yvette Thomas, a home care nurse and clinical educator for home care. “Anything that is within our power to do, we will try to accomplish for that client because our goal is to keep our clients in the home as long as possible.”

Since there are other home care workers, Thomas said sometimes people get confused and do not know who is a nurse and who is not.

“We have care aids that work in home care and often we will go see a client and they will say, ‘Well my nurse was just here,’ not realizing it was the care aids that were there and now the nurses are walking in,” she said. “As nurses we have to identify what our role is to people and let them know who all the care providers are because there has to be more than one person on the team to be successful.”

Home care nurses do a variety of different things, from wound care dressings, IV antibiotics and managing medications to compression therapy, palliative care and pain management.

“We can almost do anything in home care,” Thomas said. “We don’t do acute things or things for trauma. If you are having a heart attack, I can’t help you -- you need to go to the hospital for that.

“Once the acute phase has been managed in the hospital, then you can come home and we can manage your chronic disease, if that is what it’s become,” she added.

Kelly Lloyd, a registered nurse and lymphedema therapist, said compression therapy is an important part of home care nurses jobs.

“Compression is something that we as nurses do because the swelling in people’s bodies, oftentimes legs, is related to the problem of obesity, can be secondary to a vein problem and it also can commonly follow any kind of breast cancer or other cancer therapy,” she explained. “Any kind of swelling that is present in the body is something that needs to be dealt with.”

She said sometimes it might just start out as swelling that will settle over the course of a night, but sometimes it becomes a chronic problem.

“If it develops to the point where it doesn’t want to go away any longer, than that is the problematic sort of swelling that home care nurses are involved with managing,” Thomas said. “It is really important because eventually wounds will develop. That in itself is a really important part of our job.”

Another important part of home care nursing is palliative care.

“I am the palliative care nurse, so I go out into the community and see people who are terminally ill and at the end of their life,” Michelle Street said. “I provide whatever they need. It could be fluids so they don’t have to go to the hospital, it could be just support -- it could be emotional support it could be symptom management, it could be all of those things.”

A lot of people don’t want to die in a hospital bed, where they don’t feel comfortable and are surrounded by noise, she said.

“They want to die in their own homes where there is all of their family around them, where they can have basically a normal day where they can get up when they please, to bed when they please and don’t get interrupted,” Street said. “It is a really nice program to have in home care so people don’t have to go to hospital at their end of their life and be separated from their loved ones.”

Home care nursing is important because most clients don’t want to go to the hospital or long-term care.

“They want to be in their homes so if we can do that for them, it is very important,” Thomas said. “I have been a nurse for 29 years and it is the only place I can ever say is client centred because we are guests in their home. How more client centred can it be?”

Organizations: Home Care

Geographic location: Michelle Street

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