Each day, some 10,000 seniors in the United States turn 65 and the majority of them are hoping to age in their own homes. The staggering number of aging Americans has increased the demand for home health care clinicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, rehabilitation therapists, social workers and others who have the skill and experience to care for patients with complex medical and supportive needs.
Today, home health care is a growing specialty and women and men from diverse backgrounds are discovering a passion for working in the field. Many home health care professionals prefer the rewards of working one-on-one with patients and their families on a continuous basis and the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing they are enhancing their quality of life. Others like the flexible schedule and their ability to apply their skill and experience in an independent practice. For Julie Genovese, RN, BSN, BC, it’s seeing the life-changing impact that care in the home can have and helping patients and their families find hope, even while enduring the most challenging medical situations.
Julie knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was in kindergarten and began to learn how the human body works. In grammar school, she borrowed a nursing cap from a neighbor and would wear it while pretending to take the temperature of friends and family. Later, when her grandfather became sick, she accompanied her mother on visits to help care for him, providing comfort and cheer as only a special granddaughter could.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, Julie went to work at a local hospital, providing nursing care, pain management and teaching to patients recuperating from a variety of surgical procedures. Although she enjoyed the challenge and pace of the hospital setting, patients were only in her care for a few days, perhaps a week, and she wondered about their continued care and recuperation once they went home.
“When working at the hospital, my patients would all talk wistfully about wanting to go home to continue their recuperation,” said Julie. “That’s when my interest in nursing care in the home took shape. Now, as a home health care nurse for Home Health VNA, I care for patients over many weeks, or even months, using my post-surgical nursing skills to help patients recuperate and to support them along every step of their journey back to independence. And the expanded role of today’s home health care nurse allows me to use all my advanced clinical skills and experience in the care of patients with complex medical conditions, including surgical wounds. I also do a lot of teaching and find that patients are more open, relaxed and engaged in learning about their medical condition while home.”
At age 72, Dorothy “Dot” Newman knows all too well about the complexity of managing a complex medical condition and was discouraged that her frequent hospitalizations due to congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease would lead to her inability to remain in her own home. Her last hospitalization earlier this summer involved a transfer to a Boston hospital for emergency surgery. Now recuperating at home, she is grateful that Julie is managing her complex medication regimen, teaching her how to manage her disease and keeping a close watch on her surgical wound for infection.
“When Julie walked in the door I knew right away I’d be OK,” said Dot. “She was very upbeat with a can-do attitude. She explained everything about my condition, taught me how to manage my symptoms and diet. She also included my daughter in my care, teaching her how to change my bandages and help with my prescriptions. She focused on what I could accomplish and what goals I could try to reach for. I’ve been home for several months now and my symptoms are under control. I’m stronger than ever. Most of all, Julie has given me hope.”
Is a career in home health care right for you? If you enjoy working independently while still being part of a team, there are a variety of positions at Home Health Foundation that could be a great fit.
For more information visit HomeHealthFoundation.org/careers or call (800) 933-5593.