Holiday Care Tips for Home Health Nurses

There’s truly no place like home, and that’s especially true during the holidays. For those who can’t care for themselves, but don’t want to move to an assisted care facility, home health care is often an excellent option. It allows older adults to remain in their own homes while still having access to a level of care they need for safety, comfort and independence.   

If you work in the home healthcare field, you likely know that the holiday season can present its own special challenges. Whether you’re facing your first holiday season as a nurse, or have worked through many holiday seasons, we have some tips that might help make your season merry and bright, and best of all healthy.

Get Help Delivered

Since you will be exposed to all sorts of germs this time of year, you may also find yourself needing medical help. And as a home health nurse, there may be some situations you can’t handle without calling in help. Yet the last thing you want to do is have a client admitted to the ER this time of year. 

Don’t worry. The caring and innovative teams at DispatchHealth have your back. Even during the holidays.

DispatchHealth helps extend the reach of home health services by increasing access to high acuity medical care outside the hospital. In other words, we can deliver much of the same complex medical care as an ER, in the comfort of home. It’s the same type of care that you tirelessly provide for your clients, but with the ability to handle the big emergencies that you may not have the equipment or training to treat. So that means your clients can sit tight, and we’ll come to them. No ambulances. No waiting rooms. No shocking bills. 

Our medical teams consist of either a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, along with a medical technician, in addition to an on-call, locally licensed emergency medicine physician. And we’ll be sure to keep you and the patient’s doctors in the loop on any treatment administered. To ensure continuity of care, a detailed report is sent to each patient’s primary care provider and other care team members. 

DispatchHealth’s teams partner across the care continuum with emergency medical services, senior living facilities, care management, nurse line, primary care, specialty care, and home health services to improve access and reduce the total cost of care. 

So the next time you need a helping hand for yourself, your family or a client, call in the experts from DispatchHealth.

Be Proactive to Avoid Illness

We all encounter plenty of germs as we go about our daily lives. And as a home healthcare worker, you’re likely to also be in contact with some of the most vulnerable segments of the population. This means you’ll need to be extra vigilant about spreading germs and keeping yourself and your family healthy. 

Be sure to read some of our tips for preventing the spread of flu and other diseases. While you’ve likely heard these before, it can’t hurt to have a refresher. In addition to washing hands and the other common contagion tips, there are a few things you’ll need to remember that are specific to caregivers

Don’t run errands in your scrubs and then go to visit a patient. You may bring along germs that you didn’t even know you encountered. Be sure to wear protective gear such as a surgical mask if you believe you or your patient may be carrying a contagion. And of course, get your vaccines early and be sure to keep them up to date. 

Plan Your Schedule Ahead

Depending on your position and the type of care team you work for, you may have to work during the holidays. For many this can be a welcome bonus in the form of holiday pay, for others it’s a difficult pill to swallow. 

If you’re new to home healthcare or working with a new company, be sure to inquire about policies for holiday hours months in advance so you can plan ahead. If you work directly for clients, ask in advance what plans they have for the season and how they’d like you to fit into these plans. 

If you do need to swap hours or find someone else to cover your clients, be sure to handle it well in advance. This will make it easier to find someone to handle your caseload while you spend time with your family. It will also give clients time to adjust to the idea of a different caregiver during such a stressful and busy time of year.

For some, on-call holidays may be an option. If you’re working on-call during the holidays, be sure to let family and friends know so they won’t be disappointed if you have to leave suddenly or miss out on holiday festivities without notice. Communication and preparation are the keys to successful holiday scheduling.

Cultivate Compassion

Needing healthcare during the holidays is a difficult situation for many. Whether you’re working with patients who have recently been released from the hospital, disabled persons or those who are seeking to maintain their independence in old age, you may find stress levels soar this time of year. 

Patients may have unrealistic expectations of how their holidays will be spent. They may have to miss out on holiday travel that they’ve enjoyed in past years. It’s possible they won’t be able to take part in the traditions that they’ve always enjoyed. Or they may find themselves alone on these special days, without loved ones to share the season. 

This is a good time of year to cultivate an extra measure of compassion. Remember that holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, no matter their situation. Give your clients the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Understand that if they lash out, they’re likely not actually frustrated with you but with their situation. And reserve a good amount of compassion for yourself and your family too.

Manage Your Stress Levels 

Patients aren’t the only ones who may be stressed around the holidays. Your days may be full of to-do lists and special holiday activities. When you add in all the cleaning, decorating, shopping, baking, cooking, and wrapping that comes with this time of year, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos. 

Take some time regularly to manage your own stress levels. Find an activity that helps you de-stress and schedule time to practice it. It can be as simple as listening to festive music on the way to and from work, curling up with a good book or movie now and then, practicing meditation or yoga, or getting your sweat on at your local gym. Whatever your stress reliever, engage in it as often as you can for a stress-free holiday season. 

Set Aside Time for Family and Friends

It’s easy to forget about the things that matter amidst the holiday bustle. Whether you have little ones waiting for you at home, a large extended family or a tight group of friends who enjoy holidays together, be sure to carve out time for them.

If you’re new to nursing, some of your family may not understand why you can’t be as available for holiday gatherings as those who work in an office or other 9-to-5 jobs. Consider planning holiday get-togethers outside of the normal schedule so that you’re able to join in with the family.

about the author
About the Author
DispatchHealth Staff The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.