What Are the Duties of a Home Health Nurse?


Caring for permanently or temporarily homebound patients is the specialty of the home health nurse. This type of nursing career may entail routine visits to several patients throughout the workday or it can be a private assignment that consists of continual care within the home of a single patient. This field of nursing is the closest thing to house calls that still commonly exists in medicine. Home health nurses have several responsibilities during their time in the home of patients.

Determine Patient Needs

  • The home health nurse's primary responsibility to the patient is to complete regular and thorough evaluations of the client's condition in order to determine his or her specific needs. These assessments may be completed quickly for those healing from operations or suffering from a specific wound. The assessment may be more involved and complex for patients with more widespread health problems that affect multiple functions or body systems.

Supervise Aides

  • A home health aide staffs many patients who require more constant care during a large portion of the day or, in some instances, continually. The home health nurse is sometimes the aide's immediate supervisor. The nurse in these instances handles the scheduling of aides, oversees their work and assigns the type of care to be given in the nurse's absence.

Administer Treatment

  • The home health nurse is often the only health care professional that comes in contact with a homebound patient on a regular basis. This means that many of the treatments prescribed to the patient by doctors must be given during the home health nurse's visit. Administering injections, tests, medication and other methods of treatment in the home is a common duty of this profession.

Suggest Self-Care Techniques

  • In cases where the patient is only cared for by the nurse or aides during brief visits, the patient must be educated on how to provide self-care when no one else is available. The home health nurse regularly makes suggestions and instructs the patient how to perform this self-care in the absence of health care professionals.

Pass Information from Patients to Doctors

  • Although the home health nurse provides a great deal of care to the patient, the actual orders likely come from a physician that is not in the home. Because of this situation, the nurse becomes the liaison between the physician and the patient. The nurse communicates the progress of the patient to the doctor and then relays the doctor's instructions back to the patient.

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