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Interview: What Is It Like to Work in Home Health Care?

For a therapist accustomed to working in an inpatient or outpatient facility, thinking about making the transition to working in home health care full or part-time may bring up questions. Are there therapeutic advantages to engaging with a patient in their home environment rather than in the hospital or a clinic? Does the role of the therapist change in this new setting? Will working in home health give them the same kind of professional satisfaction and stimulation as working in another setting? Even if they’re eager to work with patients in home health care, either full or part-time, they may not know how to break into this growing field of therapy effectively.

 

At Essential Healthcare Staffing, we have a growing roster of speech, occupational, and physical therapists from a wide variety of healthcare backgrounds who have found that working with patients in their homes has challenged their ideas of what they expected from working in home health. We collaborate with an increasing number of healthcare organizations in need of highly qualified therapists, with the goal of making a personalized fit between therapists and organizations to ensure satisfaction and optimal outcomes for their patients. One of our founders, Michael Flood, spoke with Renee, a speech pathologist who is one of the many talented professionals working with Essential. He got her perspective on how home health care compares to her previous work in other healthcare settings and what she finds gives her the most satisfaction with her current work with patients in need.

Interview:

Michael: Hello Renee, thank you for joining us today. Can you please tell me about yourself?

Renee: I have been practicing for sixteen years now in most therapy settings—like acute rehab, outpatient, inpatient, subacute. Recently, I’ve been working in home health care.

M: You’ve done a lot of settings. It seems like you’ve done them all.

R: Yes! Before I came to Essential Healthcare Staffing, I was working at FS Community Hospital, which is a hospital level 1 trauma center, and I loved working there. I did a lot of ER/ICU, which was a very cool experience. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about being in home health because I enjoyed the hospital setting. However, I find home health to be clinically more challenging and stimulating as well.

M: Very interesting. So, where are you originally from, California?

R: Yes.

M: … and is that where your friends and family live?

R: Yeah, born and raised here in the Central Valley—Fresno—and I lived the Bay Area for about eight years.

M: Nice. So you’ve been here just as long as I’ve been here!

R: Yeah. (laughing)

M: How come you chose the field of speech pathology?

R: I started as a political science major with the intention of continuing to law school. I realized shortly after I started school that I am not interested in reading those types of materials, and I prefer to be reading diagnostics and medicine. I re-evaluated my career choice and considered going to med school. After some thought, I decided that I would like to work more intimately with patients and follow them over the course of time. I knew that this would also allow me to have a balanced life.

Around the same time, I had a relative that had gone through this science program, and I was talking to her about it. Through her, I learned about speech pathology—and it struck my interest.

M: That’s amazing! What were you doing before home health care?

R: I was at a community hospital, working with inpatients.

M: What was the typical day with inpatients?

R: It was extremely busy. You never knew what kind of shift you were going to get, which is why I liked it. I was constantly moving and every day was new. I had no idea if I was going to see patients in the ER, or Med-Surg floor, or step down, so the day-to-day there is unpredictable from that standpoint. There are two major floors that you would cover as a therapist, and the overall experience was very dynamic.  

M: I remember when I worked in the inpatient too, which I also found unpredictable. It kept me very sharp. I also enjoyed it!

R: Definitely. I found it so surprising that nobody wanted to work in the ER, and I loved it there. What I found interesting was to see the patient in that space. The patient has no idea what is happening around them and how it is affecting them. It was a privilege to see the inpatients in that space.  

M: I agree. It is great that you were able to experience that. When you’re in a home health setting, do you find yourself advocating more for patients? If so, how do you do that?

R: That’s a really good point. We [therapists] need to communicate with a lot of other professionals and bridge gaps, informational gaps. When a patient goes to the hospital full study does this, but I think the advocacy part [for the therapist] is higher in the home study. I think that changes even more so several degrees because the degree of acuity [of a patient’s medical condition] is a lot higher.

M: True. I agree that you find yourself advocating for patients more, nowadays.

R: Yes.

M: What are the advantages of home health care for you?

R: Personally, professionally or both?

M: You made the question 2 parts.

R: I think the advantages of it is that it gives you the opportunity to develop a strong set of clinical skills. I believe that it is reflected with patients nowadays because they are coming home with a higher degree of acuity and you have to be tuned with what is going on with them medically and not just from a speech standpoint. We are the eyes and ears in the home for nurse practitioners and physicians that are trying to manage patients medically. Home health offers a nice opportunity for work-life balance, and it is a much more functional and optimal environment regarding how therapists are concerned. I think that home health is more meaningful, purposeful, and intimate. The patient outcomes are optimized when they’re in their environment.

M: I like that, and I completely agree with you. So you find yourself doing more tailored therapy at their home?

R: Yes. I think they [patients] connect a lot better because motivation is a huge thing for people when they are not feeling good, you know what I mean?

M: That’s great you understand that. I ask myself that too, how can you motivate a person that is sick? I don’t know how they feel, and how do I motivate them to get to this therapy and see the benefit of it and push through whatever they have.

R: I think that if you ever been sick for any length of time, you will understand what it’s like. I have found in that space that I have to be attuned to what the patient can handle and sometimes it’s “not right now,” you know what I mean? You have too many things going on that sometimes you can’t deal with people coming in and out of your house. I try to patiently ask them what time is better for them, and I found that a lot of times they do come back. Home health allows you to be flexible, which is one of the biggest advantages of working here.

M: Right! Exactly, I would agree. This has been a great conversation. Thank you very much for allowing me to interview you.

At Essential Healthcare Staffing, we know that the demand for qualified professionals in the healthcare industry will only continue to increase. We’re dedicated to matching trained, experienced therapists to the healthcare agencies and organizations in need of expert help. Therapists who join our network have the freedom to set their hours—whether they prefer to work part-time, full-time, or seasonally—and their geographic area of service. They maintain control of their schedule so that they can best meet the needs of their individual patients. By making use of Essential’s administrative support and hiring connections, therapists can concentrate on the reason they chose their vocation, helping patients heal and regain skills so they can function independently. As a therapist-owned and -run organization, we know how to streamline the process of getting therapists out and working with patients, so that the core mission of providing superior service is always the top priority.

On the other side of the equation, agencies can come to Essential with confidence knowing that any therapist from Essential’s pool will be appropriately licensed, fully vetted, and ready to get to work to support their organization in providing superior healthcare services to their clients. We also provide a connection for organizations looking for temporary-to-permanent hire candidates to make additions to their staff. We work with our clients to make sure that we meet their standards and requirements so that they can rely on us to meet their staffing needs. Essential Healthcare is the place for top-quality professionals to connect with the agencies that need them.

 

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