Humana's chief nursing officer shares five benefits of home care nursing.
Editor's note: Kathy Driscoll, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CCM, is the senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Humana.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the public that nurses are the backbone and the heart of our healthcare ecosystem. Throughout the past two years, nurses willingly put themselves at risk of infection from COVID-19 every day, while working long hours and experiencing burnout, to have a positive impact on the health of their patients.
The challenges of the pandemic have caused significant turnover, as many nurses retired early or decided to leave their direct patient care jobs for less stressful positions. With more than 20% of hospital nurses saying they intend to leave their jobs, what else can they consider that provides the same sense of purpose?
One employment option nurses may want to consider is home care. This rapidly growing industry offers nurses the opportunity to work one-on-one with patients in the comfort of their homes for a wide array of services—from primary care to IV infusions and acute care. McKinsey & Company estimates that the amount of care being delivered at home for Medicare FFS and MA beneficiaries will increase up to fourfold by 2025.
During the pandemic, home care saw a major increase in demand as patients feared going to hospitals and doctors' offices for risk of infection. This care was crucial during COVID-19, as home care lightened the burden on overcrowded hospitals and also has been shown to improve health outcomes for patients.
As a career option, home care offers a variety of perks for nurses. As a registered nurse and certified case manager myself, I can think of at least five benefits of home care nursing:
- Purpose. Nurses are strongly motivated by their sense of purpose and doing meaningful work, derived through helping people. According to the American Nurses Foundation, during the pandemic, home care nurses reported feeling that their work had more meaning more than nurses across all other practice settings combined.
- Quality of care. Why do these nurses feel a sense of purpose? It's the quality of care that home care provides. At Humana-owned CenterWell Home Health, for example, skilled nurses and therapists help people recover from illness or injury and learn to manage their health with confidence. This helps them remain independent and enjoy a higher quality of life.
- Relationships. When a patient goes to the hospital, the highest priority is to stabilize the patient so he or she can return home. As a result, the relationship with the nurse is often short. However, nurses working in a home setting are often able to work with the same patient over time. This allows them to develop trusting relationships with their patients and feel a personal connection to their work.
- Flexibility and autonomy. Home care can offer flexible schedules and autonomy—a benefit most nurses would appreciate if they've experienced long hospital shifts. In addition, nurses may have opportunities with virtual positions, checking in on patients via telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
- Understanding the whole person. By getting an inside look at the patient's home and lifestyle, nurses can help them in a more holistic way by addressing the social determinants of health, such as access to nutritious food, transportation, and mental health.
After the past two years, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the courageous nurses who risked their lives on the frontlines. The pandemic caused unimaginable stress and burnout for nurses, and we are seeing the effects in the high rates of turnover among nurses at hospitals. While there are support systems in place to help nurses cope, it's important they are aware of opportunities to help patients outside of hospitals.
To all nurses taking on new roles—from the seasoned pros looking for a change, to the nearly 180,000 nurses graduating each year—thank you for your care and commitment to making a positive impact on people's lives. I hope that wherever you help patients, it feels like home for them.
ANA Enterprise. (2021, February 16). Year one COVID-19 impact assessment survey. Nursing World. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/work-environment/health-safety/disaster-preparedness/coronavirus/what-you-need-to-know/year-one-covid-19-impact-assessment-survey/
Bestsennyy, O., Chmielewski, M., Koffel, A., & Shah, A. (2022, February 1). From facility to home: How healthcare could shift by 2025. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/from-facility-to-home-how-healthcare-could-shift-by-2025
Demand for home care workers has risen 125% since March, NAHC says. Kaiser Health News. (2021, February 1). Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://khn.org/morning-breakout/demand-for-home-care-workers-has-risen-125-since-march-nahc-says/
Howard, J., Kent, T., Stuck, A., Crowley, C., & Zeng, F. (2019). Improved Cost and Utilization Among Medicare Beneficiaries Dispositioned From the ED to Receive Home Health Care Compared With Inpatient Hospitalization. The American Journal of Accountable Care, 7(1).
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Kathy Driscoll, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CCM, is the SVP and Chief Nursing Officer at Humana. Kathy oversees Humana's strategy of improving the experience of Humana's nearly 10,000 nurses, care managers, and social workers. She is on the Board of Trustees for the American Nurses Foundation and is a member of numerous professional organizations including The American Nurses Association and the Case Management Society of America.
Kathy Driscoll, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CCM, is the SVP and Chief Nursing Officer at Humana.