Identifying the daily hazards facing home health-care providers

August 20th, 2019
By: Content Staff

Just how dangerous is it to be a home health-care provider? In a post on Covalent Careers, physical therapist Kevin Burciaga provides a lengthy list of the hazards involved, alternating his tone between serious and tongue in cheek. Here’s what he came up with:

Pets – Whether it’s a mean cat, a small dog that won’t stop yapping or a huge dog wanting to pin you to the floor, the patient’s furry friends complicate the job of the home health-care provider. Since pets are so ubiquitous, and since some pet owners apparently don’t mind having pet fur everywhere, those with allergies or fear of animals should avoid a career providing health care in patients’ homes, Burciaga says.

Smoking – Many older patients grew up in an era where smoking was much more popular than it is today. Remember that it’s OK to insist that the patient not smoke while you’re there, and open windows or even wear a surgical mask if necessary, Burciaga says.

Driving – Every car ride to a patient’s home puts the home health-care provider at risk of an accident, especially in regions that receive bad weather. Remember to drive defensively and put your phone and other gadgets away so you don’t dramatically increase the risk of an accident, Burciaga says.

Odors – While rarely actually dangerous, it’s alarming how bad some patients’ homes smell, whether it’s from human or animal waste, poor hygiene, rotten food or mold, Burciaga says.

OASIS questionnaire – Completing the Outcome Assessment and Information Set, which is required to start a Medicare patient, is a tedious process that can take anywhere from two to four hours and involves as many as 200 questions to answer, not to mention goals, interventions and the plan of care, Burciaga says.

Home environment, inside and out – Over time, a home health-care provider is likely to encounter all types of potentially dangerous situations in patients’ homes, including loaded guns, drugs, alcohol and family conflicts, Burciaga says. In addition, they will be sent to all types of areas, including those with high rates of violent crime. They should remember that it’s OK to refuse to see a client if they feel they are at risk, Burciaga says.

Sitting and eating – The combination of sitting for several hours a day in your car and succumbing to convenience by eating at fast-food restaurants and gas-station convenience stores can take a toll on a home health-care provider’s health and physique, Burciaga says. Read the label to make sure your energy bars aren’t just protein-enriched candy bars, and limit your fluid intake early in the day if you want to avoid gross public restrooms, Burciaga says.

And that’s not even the whole story. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health adds other concerns to the list, including stress, latex allergies, exposure to pathogens, needle-stick injuries and even violence in the home.

Despite that exhaustive list of drawbacks, Burciaga says that those considering a career as a home health-care provider shouldn’t be scared off. Most patients and their homes are just fine, he says, and the horror stories usually are embellished and really are rare. Every person must decide for herself whether a career in home health care is the right fit.

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