Home Health Nurse

What Is a Home Health Nurse?

Home health nursing is a specialty in which registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational/practical nurses (LVNs/LPNs), and certified nurse assistants (CNAs) provide multidimensional home care to patients of all ages, typically on a one-on-one and/or long-term basis. Home health care is generally intended for patients who are well enough to be discharged from health care facilities, but still need nursing personnel to evaluate, initiate, and supervise nursing interventions. Patients who require the services of a home health nurse may be disabled, elderly, or terminally ill, or they may be living with a chronic disease or recovering from an injury or accident. Some home health nurses also assist pregnant women and new mothers, providing them with ongoing care, education, and support.

Common specialties that are often covered by home health nurses include:

  • Pediatrics
  • Gerontology
  • Psychiatric/mental health
  • Community/public health
  • Medical-surgical nurses

What Are Some Home Health Nurse Duties?

Roles and duties commonly carried out by home health nurses will depend on whether they are a registered nurse (RN), licensed vocational/practical nurse (LVN/LPN), or a certified nursing assistant (CNA). These duties may include:

For certified nursing assistants (CNAs):

  • Take and record patient vital signs
  • Feed, bathe, and dress patients
  • Take patients to appointments
  • Assist patients with mobility
  • Provide emotional support
  • Communicate closely with loved ones and family members
  • Answer calls for help
  • Observe and react to changes in a patient's condition
  • Report to registered nurse or licensed practical nurse

For licensed vocational/practical nurses (LVNs/LPNs):

  • Inspects patient's environment for any possible dangers or hazards
  • Provide education to patient and their loved ones
  • Administer medications
  • Give enemas
  • Change wound dressings
  • Collect data and report back to the registered nurse or physician
  • Treat bed sores

For registered nurses (RNs):

  • Evaluate the patient's needs
  • Plan and implement care strategies based on the individual needs of the patient
  • Oversee and direct CNAs, LVNs, and other supporting staff
  • Case management
  • Make suggestions to improve safety of the home
  • Work alongside and communicate with doctors and family members
  • Assess the patient's response to treatment and adjust as needed

Where Do Home Health Nurses Work?

Obviously, home health nurses primarily carry out their work in patients' homes or residences. Common employers include:

  • Staffing or home health agencies
  • Self-employment
  • Hospice

How to Become a Home Health Nurse

There are a number of different ways to become a home health nurse, as well as different levels of home health nursing. No matter the level, if you're thinking about a career as a home health nurse, you should value family-centered care, individualized care, and autonomy. The initial step you'll need to take before beginning is to decide which kind of home health nurse you would like to be - certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN), or a registered nurse (RN).

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Educational requirements will differ depending on which particular level of home health nursing one would like to enter into. At the registered nurse's level, you will need an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). After obtaining one of these you'll then need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as an RN. At the licensed practical nurse's level, you'll need to finish an LPN/LVN program and then pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Lastly, at the CNA level, your task will be to complete a CNA program and then pass the state licensing exam.

Do Home Health Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Home health nurses should have some kind of nursing diploma, although they don't necessarily have to be a registered nurse. Home health nurses can be certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), registered nurses (RNs), or even nurse practitioners (NPs) with master's degrees.

Step 2: Required Home Health Nurse Certifications/Credentials

As far as certifications and credentials go, the American Nurses Association (ANA) used to offer a Home Health Nursing Certification (RN-BC) and a Home Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification (HHCNS-BC). However, since the exams for both of these certifications have been phased out these are only available for renewal now. For those who already have the credential, they can continue to renew it every five years.

Home Health Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

As the populous baby boomer generation continues to get older they will inevitably require more healthcare. Home health nurses should expect to play a significant role in the coming years as they will be needed to meet the healthcare demands of this aging generation.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Compassion, empathy, dependability, ability to work autonomously, strong interpersonal skills, excellent ability to communicate, ability to work with hands, assessment/evaluation skills.
  • Job Outlook - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow by 16% through 2024. Home healthcare is projected to grow by an astounding 41% in the same time span. Included in home healthcare services are nurses, physical therapists, personal care aides, and other healthcare workers.

What Is the Average Salary of a Home Health Nurse?

According to Salary.com the median annual salary for home health registered nurses is $79,779. The site also reports that median annual salaries for LVN/LPN nurses and home health nursing assistants is $47,546 and $25,952, respectively. Pay rates will vary widely depending on the geographical location of employment, level of experience, credentials, and employer. The same factors will determine what benefits a home health nurse receives. Some employers may include medical, vision, dental, and prescription insurance coverage. However, self-employed home health nurses are likely to have to acquire these things on their own.

How Much Do Home Health Nurses Make per Year?

  • $39,000 – $80,343 annually

How Much Do Home Health Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $26.57 average hourly wage

Home Health Nurse Resources