You’ve passed the selection process and are ready to start work as a home care nurse or caregiver. Are you nervous about stepping into another person’s house as a stranger?
Are you concerned about how your actions will be perceived by the homeowners? Are you worried about working alone?
As a new home care professional, it is normal to have initial fears surrounding your first home care visit. Having to do this alone can be nerve-wrecking, so we’ve compiled a list of tips from our own Care Professionals on what you can expect for your first home care visit!
What will I do as a home nurse or caregiver?
A home nurse or caregiver may be expected to do a variety of things during a home visit. As a caregiver you may be expected to perform tasks like changing diapers, changing clothes, feeding and assisting with toileting.
Other potential tasks include doing household chores, cooking, supervising the care recipient or providing companionship by talking to them and performing simple activities. You may also be asked to be a medical escort to follow a care recipient to their medical appointments.
As a home nurse you may be expected to perform some medical procedures for the care recipients in their home. Examples of nursing home care requests include stoma care, catheter care, wound dressing and managing IV drips.
Care recipients may also require varying levels of care. You might be assisting a care recipient who can walk on their own but with some assistance, while you might find other care requests where the care recipient is bedridden.
As a Homage Care Professional, details of care required by the care recipient will be given in the care report found in your CarePro app provided prior to your home visit. It will be useful to go through this, as well as notes from previous Care Professionals prior to your care visit.
What to prepare before the visit
Here are some equipment which would be useful to prepare before you go on a nursing care home visit.
- Antiseptic wipes
- Blood pressure monitor
- Disposable gloves / Latex gloves
There are other items which would be generally useful for both nurses and care workers to bring on home visits:
- Water bottle
- Disposable gloves/ latex gloves
- Hand sanitiser
- Phone charger
- Spare cash (in case you need to go out to grab some food or a drink during a home visit)
- If you know that you will be spending time providing companionship to your home visit recipient, you can prepare simple activities to do like colouring books, crayons and paper, or jigsaw puzzles.
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What to expect during a home visit
Here are three things that you should be mentally prepared for during a home visit:
1. Expect to see different kinds of living conditions
Home care visits can happen in any setting. Sometimes you might get to enter large, well-maintained houses. Other times, you may have home care visit requests where the care recipient has not been able to care for their home for a long time due to mobility issues or illness.
You might also have to enter homes in areas that are far from public transportation or feature unique terrain, like a steep slope going up to the house. You should be mentally prepared to have to be exposed to different kinds of living conditions.
Try to refrain from commenting on the state of a care recipient’s home, like how messy the inside of their house is or how they live in a lavish home environment.
2. Prepare yourself for changes
You will receive general information about the content of the home visit before you are dispatched. However, there might be changes as the situations of the care recipient or the family changes.
The visit might be cancelled abruptly when the care recipient has to be hospitalised, for example, or if the care recipient’s family has found someone else who can take care of their loved one.
On the other hand, you might be asked to perform additional visit requests if the care recipient and their loved ones are impressed with your level of care and ask you to perform repeat visits.
Your visit duration might also be extended, for example, if you are performing a medical escort care request and the medical examination for the care recipient takes longer than usual. Of course, this can only happen with your consent, so be open to changes as and when it comes.
Expect that changes might be an unavoidable aspect of home visits and be prepared to have to adjust your plans accordingly.
3. Think about how you will communicate tactfully to the care recipients’ family
If you are coming into someone’s house for the first time during a home visit, it is understandable that the care recipient’s family will be concerned about how the visit will turn out.
Some family members might follow the home visit caregiver or nurse around the house to make sure that they are taking good care of the care recipient, or to find out more about how to better care for their loved one.
Be patient with them and be generous with your advice. Show that you are knowledgable and reliable, but also empathetic of their situation.
It takes time to build trust, so don’t be disheartened if the care recipient or his/her family members don’t respond positively to you during your first care visit with them.
Even if you are stressed in the moment, it is important to communicate with the family members in a tactful and professional manner.
If you face any difficulties with managing the next of kinds of certain care recipients, do reach out to our Care Operations team to get the appropriate advice. Here are some ways that you can manage difficult patients and family members.
10 tips on how to make home visits go smoothly
Now that you have accepted your first home visit assignment, how do you make future home visits go smoothly? After speaking to some of our Care Pros, here are 10 tips they’d like to share with new home care workers on how to ensure a smooth home care visit.
1. Go with the flow, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure
Though being new to the job is scary, it is important to go with the flow and never stop learning on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and clarify on the care recipients’ conditions with their loved ones when needed. It is ok to fumble, and the occasional slip ups may occur, but always take it with a positive attitude and make up for your mistakes.
Eventually, the mistakes you make are the stepping stones to your experience as a Care Pro. This will help you make less mistakes in the future!
2. Provide your care recipient with a choice on the type of care he/she likes to receive
It is always good to provide the option for care recipients to be engaged in your job whenever possible.
Receiving care and help can come as unnatural to some, and the loss of control over their lives due to mobility issues may be emotionally difficult for some care recipients.
Care Professional Chew Zhan Eng shared that he would usually ask his clients to wash any sensitive areas themselves, so that they can maintain their dignity and feel like they are respected enough to be able to do some things by themselves. No one likes to be demanded to do things nor lose control over what they can do.
3. Come prepared with a list of mobility and stretching exercises you can do with your care recipients if they require it
If your care recipient requires movement exercises, it is good to learn some basic rotation and movement exercises to do with the elderly. Having a list of basic exercises and stretches is especially helpful to elderly with mobility problems and those who are bedridden.
With the right knowledge, you can also help limit their drop foot and muscle stiffness symptoms. Of course, it is important to check if your elderly has any pre-existing injuries or conditions before getting them to engage in exercises.
4. Learn more about transferring bedridden elderly if you are required to do so
Transferring a bedridden elderly can be a challenging and potentially dangerous feat especially when you’re new at the job. Prior to your home care visit, it is important to learn the proper techniques of bed transfer, and ensure that you take the necessary precautions as and when needed.
Do not attempt to transfer a patient that’s heavier than you by yourself, as this may pose as a danger to both you and your care recipient.
5. Be mindful of how you speak and behave
When you are invited to come as a home visit nurse or caregiver, you are coming into their house as a guest and as a professional.
Always treat the care recipient, their family, and the home visit environment with respect. Do not help yourself to supplies in the home visit location without permission from the homeowner.
Even when you are on a break in the middle of the visit, you need to watch what you do and say at the home visit location because you are still on duty. As a Care Professional, you are expected to keep your care recipient engaged. It is important that you give them the attention that they deserve, and not use your phone excessively during your care visits.
6. Clarify on all consumables needed, and bring adequate supplies for your home care visit
For caregivers, it is important to always have adequate gloves on you. Make sure to ask your care recipients if they have any allergies to latex if you are using latex gloves.
If you are carrying out a nursing procedure and require certain consumables, do ensure that the main caregiver of the care recipient have the right consumables at the location. Keep in mind that the caregiver of the care recipient may not be healthcare professionals, and they may not know exactly what is needed for a certain procedure, thus it would be good to advise them on what they will need to have on hand.
For example, for a Nasogastric Tube reinsertion procedure, they may not know that proper lubrication is required to help with the insertion of the tube. As such, it is good practice to clarify in detail with the operations team to ensure that all consumables that are required are properly identified and in place, so that you can reduce the chance of having to scramble for these consumables when you are at the location. Our Care Pros have advised to have extra sets of nursing equipment on hand for emergency purposes.
7. Be proactive in responding to the care recipient’s’ needs
Anticipating and responding to the care recipients’ needs will help to create a good impression of yourself during home visits. For example, if you are supervising the care recipient and see him or her struggling to open a bottle of water, you can offer to open it for them.
Be conscientious and make sure that the care recipient is not left unattended in case there is an accident. If the care recipient is very satisfied with your level of care, they may even request you to come back for an additional visit or as a regular caregiver.
8. Know that it’s okay if not every visit goes perfectly
Many home care nurses and care workers have experienced home visits that went poorly. Sometimes you may turn up late to a visit, forget to submit a visit summary on time, or have an unpleasant interaction with the care recipient or their family.
Be kind to yourself and know that sometimes, it is inevitable to make mistakes. Even if you think you have made a mistake, apologising to the family and taking ownership of your mistakes can go a long way in maintaining a good relationship with the care recipient and their loved ones.
In situations where you think you could have prevented the mistake from happening, you can re-assess the situation and try to improve on your methods if a similar scenario were to happen again.
9. Maintain a good social support network
Going on home visits alone can be a physically and mentally draining task, so make sure and remember to have a support system out of work too!
Connecting with other home visit caregivers and nurses can be a good way for you to seek advice and share best practices. Outside of fellow home visit caregivers and nurses, having a trusted network of family and friends can help when you need to confide in others about the challenges or frustrations you experience at work.
10. Prioritise your mental health and safety
In rare situations, you may encounter care recipients or their family members who make you feel stressed out.
If you encounter verbal or physical abuse or harassment during a home visit, please inform the operations team as soon as possible so that they can determine what is the next best course of action.
You have the right to withdraw from a visit if you feel physically or psychologically threatened by the care recipient or their family. Remember that your mental health and safety always comes first.
As a freelancer, it is common to face burnout especially when managing different stakeholders. It is important to not take things too personally, and to make the conscious effort to prioritise your own well-being.
For clients that are stubborn, Care Pro Chew Zhan Eng advises that it is important to be firm with them.
“I had one regular client who did not like to shower. In the midst of showering, he would repeatedly say in a stern manner to be faster. I would joke with him in a non-threatening, lighthearted tone and say “If you don’t allow me to shower you, your family member will come and scold me for not doing my work!”. Sometimes I would also suggest for them to shampoo their hair at the same time as I wash their body so that we’ll be able to finish showering much faster together,” said Zhan Eng.
It takes skill and experience to turn a negative situation into a positive one for the care recipients. As such, it’s important to not be too hard on yourself, especially during your first few caregiving visits, as it takes time to build rapport and trust with the people that you care for.
Whenever you face a difficult situation, constantly remind yourself on why you decided to join this profession in the first place to motivate yourself. For Care Pro Zhan Eng, he constantly reminds himself that his main goal in becoming a Care Pro was to help others to his best abilities, which he has done so. He also reminds himself that many people have benefitted from his help so far, which helps him to feel better when he encounters challenging situations.
Take the first step to be a freelance Care Professional with Homage!
Are you a nurse who wants to experience caring for patients outside of a hospital setting? Or are you a care worker who wants to experience getting to know patients one-on-one in a home visit setting? Homage might just be the place for you.
You have the flexibility to take on ad-hoc jobs with no minimum commitment time, or work regular part-time shifts at one of our community partners.
With the tips above, we hope that you will have more confidence in what you have to offer as a home care nurse or caregiver. Remember that you are only human, so do remember to be kind to yourself when you encounter challenging situations or people.
If you are looking for a job with flexible hours, rewarding hourly rates, and a fast approval rate of 1-2 days, being a Homage Care Pro will be a great fit for you.
Learn more about our careers as a Homage Caregiver or Nurse and apply to be a Care Pro with us today!