My Experience with Home Nursing
Updated: Jul 5
When I first started on home nursing, I was not happy with the quality of care I was receiving. To be completely honest, my nurse was horrible. She was constantly putting my health at risk. Not only did she always have tons of trouble accessing my port, but she was constantly breaking sterile procedure. She didn’t wash her hands, didn’t use a mask while accessing my port, she would reuse the same needle 5+ time when she didn’t hit my port her first try, and touch tons of non-sterile objects while wearing her sterile gloves then touch the sterile field and access me. One time she even dropped my tubing on the floor, picked it up, and connected it to my line WITHOUT disinfecting it. It is honestly a miracle that I didn’t end up in the hospital with a serious infection. I know that I have a tricky port that is hard to access. I’ve had many nurses that couldn’t get it. It’s small, deep, moves around, and is covered with a lot of scar tissue. I’m very understanding when a nurse can’t access my port, but it’s not ok to put me at high risk of a serious infection.
Fast forward two months to when I got two different nurses. My first nurse works weekdays and deaccesses my port. Although she couldn’t access my port (she only tried 2x and didn’t want to continue trying so she didn’t bruise my chest), she is very sterile. She is professional, kind, and skilled. I feel safe when she cares for me. My second nurse works weekends and accesses me. She is honestly amazing. I’ve never had a nurse who could get the needle in so easily. She never breaks sterile protocol, is so kind, and is all around the best nurse I’ve ever had.
I’ve been asking myself why I had two experiences so drastically different and I think it’s because the convenience of the job. I’m not saying that home nursing is easy because it’s most definitely not. I have amazing nurses who go above and beyond to care for me. They have an extremely difficult job. By “convenience” I mean that I’ve heard that home nursing has more flexible hours and it’s easier to get hired at than at a hospital. So I think home nursing attracts two different kinds of nurses.
Type A is the nurse who needed the lower standard to get hired. This probably isn’t their first job choice, but it’s the only one they can get.
Type B is the nurse who needs flexible hours because of his/her personal life, but is an amazing nurse. Having a sick child at home or being a single parent means that flexible hours are necessary in order for you to work.
Now the real question is, why do home health companies hire nurse type A? I’ve spoken to friends that are on home nursing as well and they have had similar experiences as I have. This is apparently a common occurrence so why isn’t there more training and higher standards while hiring home health nurses? My theory is that it all goes back to the insurance companies. Insurance will only pay a certain amount that they set for home care and that determines how much home health companies can pay their nurses. Home nurses are in demand because they pay less than other types of nurses. So if home health companies had the same standards when hiring nurses that other places do, they wouldn’t have enough nurses.
My experience with home nursing is honestly pretty standard. I’ve had nurses from both sides of the spectrum and am lucky that I ended up with nurses that are amazing. But my first experience should have never happened. We need some sort of change in home nursing because a nurse putting your life at risk is never acceptable.