How to Prepare for Caring for Patients Outside of the Hospital

Julie Shenkman
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When you care for patients in a hospital, it's easier to keep your work life separate from other real-life situations. Transitioning from a hospital job to an in-home care position can be stressful at first. However, by preparing yourself to see sick patients in a home atmosphere, you can make your job transition easier, and you'll probably find numerous reasons to enjoy providing patients with home care assistance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for in-home care workers will increase 70 percent between 2010 and 2020. While this growth rate is just an estimate, in-home care is expected to increase much faster than the average career, so don't be surprised when you come across plenty of job openings for in-home care providers.

If you decide to take an in-home care position, you need to be prepared for a variety of situations. If you're unsure of what items you need to take to a patient's home, ask your supervisor. Most new in-home care professionals work closely with a seasoned nurse or aide before taking on patients of their own. The training you receive will help prepare you for some of the things you'll come across when you're on your own.

It's common for patients to have trouble finding a good in-home care provider, so don't be surprised if your patients don't immediately trust you. Your patients may have had negative home care experiences in the past. If you are kind, honest, and caring, you will eventually gain the trust of your patients and will often develop close working relationships with them.

As part of readying yourself mentally and emotionally for your new job, you may need to reassess your schedule and prepare your family for changes. Patients who need in-home care rely on you to be there when you're supposed to be. Whether it's once per week, twice per week, or daily, you must be there at the scheduled time. Your patients will need you to handle tasks that need to be done on a set schedule—for example, refilling their medications. So you should expect to work holidays and weekends, especially if you have patients with critical needs.

While there are vast differences between caring for patients in a hospital and providing home care assistance, your transition doesn't have to be difficult. Take some time to prepare for your new job, ask other in-home care workers what they like and don't like about their jobs, and have your manager clarify any concerns about your new job duties. Once you've done this, you'll make a smooth transition to your new in-home care job.



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