KNOW WHO’S CARING FOR YOUR LOVED ONE
Have you ever been to a doctor’s appointment or had a visit to the hospital and noticed how many different medical personnel there can be tending to you? Unless you ask, it can be hard to know exactly what each person’s job title is let alone what credentials they carry. The same can be true for home care. Are all nurses the same? How does a Certified Nurse Assistant differ from a Companion?
BE IN THE KNOW
First and foremost, any company coming into your home should be licensed, bonded and insured. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of business license, home health license, and insurance. You can also do an entity search (in any state) to be sure the company is in good standing. A free search will allow you to verify that a company has an active license in the state you are searching.
There are many people who may play a part in your wellness journey or that of your loved one. Let’s take a look at some you may meet along the way.
REGISTERED NURSE (RN)
Registered Nurses are the primary go-to practitioner for most doctor’s offices, hospitals, and facilities because they can do almost anything a physician orders, are trained on assessments, and have the expertise and critical thinking skills to operate without extensive oversight. RNs coordinate care, perform diagnostic test and analyze results, instruct patients on how to manage illnesses after treatment, and oversee other workers such as LPNs, nursing aides, and home care aides.
Registered Nurses all have to pass the same exam nationwide, called the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses. Some RN’s start with an Associate Degree (ADN) and some have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Regardless of level of education, all have to pass the same test.
Silver Lining Home Healthcare has Registered Nurses overseeing all care and working closely with LPNs and CNAs to administer the right customized care.
LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE (LPN)
An LPN reports directly to an RN and can carry out most of the same job responsibilities, with a few tasks that they must have an RN do for them. They are responsible for the tasks associated with the care of their patients and are expected to report even minor changes in a patient to an RN or other medical professional. Typically, becoming an LPN requires about a year of education culminating in a certificate. An individual must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
CERTIFIED NURSING ASSISTANT (CNA)
A CNA assists patients with activities of daily living, monitors medication reminders and vitals, and offers emotional, physical, and social support. A CNA reports to an LPN or RN, and will always have oversight. He or she will have 75-150 hours of training in a CNA program and must pass a state-sanctioned competency test.
You probably know the medical assistant as the person you meet upon entering an exam room at a doctor’s office. He or she will ask you for some health history, record information, and may take your vitals. A medical assistant will also perform appointment scheduling and data entry. Completion of a one year certificate program or Associate Degree is standard; certification is not legally mandated. This person differs from a CNA in the type of training; CNAs are typically more trained for ‘hands-on’ care like bathing/dressing, while a Medical Assistant may be more trained in procedures like performing an EKG (a heart monitoring test) or doing lab draws.
Hiring a Companion is a great way to provide personal assistance, light housekeeping and meal preparation, and friendship for your loved one who otherwise would spend much of their time alone. While there is no formal schooling required, requirements will vary from employer to employer. Employers will consider not just work experience, but life experience as well. They’ll look for individuals committed to helping others with warmth and compassion.
PHYSICAL THERAPIST (PT)
A Physical Therapist, often referred to as a PT, may visit your loved one’s home to help him or her restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain or prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities through exercises and treatments. A PT will hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree (DPT) and have passed the National Physical Therapy Exam.
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTA) work under the supervision of a PT and help administer treatment plans as directed by the PT. To become a PTA one must graduate from a 2-year accredited program and pass a licensure exam.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST (OT)
An Occupational Therapist helps patients who are injured, ill, or disabled through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help them develop, recover, improve, and maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. Often an OT will assess home and work environments and recommend adaptations that will improve one’s quality of living.
A master’s degree is required to become an OT and an associate degree is needed to become and OT Assistant. Both professions require passing the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy exam followed by state licensure.
A social worker is committed to improving the social environment and well-being of people by facilitating, and developing resources. Our social worker at Silver Lining Home Healthcare is Jeanne Dukes of Lewes Counseling. Jeanne is an invaluable resource in helping seniors transition to home health care, and for understanding a variety of other options. She also specializes in mental health.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A HOME CARE PROVIDER
Regardless of who is coming into your loved one’s home to provide care, be prepared to ask some important questions, such as:
- Who is in charge of my care?
- Will I see you regularly?
- What can I expect you to do when you’re here?
- What is the best contact number to reach my point of care?
- Can I access you 24/7?
- Any other questions that may be unique to your loved one’s situation or preferences.
And don’t forget about questions that are more personal in nature, the kind that go beyond the credentials someone carries, such as:
- What made you decide to become a [fill in the blank]?
- How long have you been in this field?
- Are you from this area?
- What do you like to do when you’re not working?
At Silver Lining Home Healthcare, we are all about building client relationships that feel like family. We want to know what makes your loved one’s heart sing and what fulfills his or her days. We welcome questions from our clients that will help them know and trust our caregivers and set them on a path of home health care that is rooted in trust and compassion.
“LPNs vs RNs.” NusingLicensure.org, www.nursinglicensure.org/articles/lpn-versus-rn.html.
“Medical Assistant vs CNA.” Online Medical Assistant Schools, www.topmedicalassistantschools.com/medical-assistant-vs-cna/.
“Differences Between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.” PHYSICAL THERAPY WEB, www.physicaltherapyweb.com/differences-occupational-therapy-physical-therapy/.
“Become a Social Worker.” Social Work License Map, www.socialworklicensemap.com/become-a-social-worker/.