* Note: November is National Family Caregivers Month
By Guest Blogger Elizabeth O’Malley, CertifiedNursingAssistant.org
A “terminal” diagnosis for any person is difficult for both the person who is ill and for his or her family. Home health aides, or certified nursing assistants, can help ease suffering in a convenient way. Private insurers recognized long ago that home health care costs much less than care in a hospital or nursing home. Also, in-home care is often less costly for insurers and families than facilities that only offer hospice care. As health care costs continue to climb upward, Medicare has finally realized the reduced costs of in-home care and has added that option to its services.
Family member caregivers want to do what is best for their loved ones, but often fear injuring the person with the illness or severe disability. Family members may truly want to help, but may not know what to do. A home caregiver, trained in practical nursing and patient care, knows how to safely move and care for a person who has physical limitations.
It is often difficult for family members to do things for their loved ones, such as feeding and basic hygiene, without training. It can be uncomfortable for someone who is ill or has a disability to have family members provide medical assistance, especially in toileting. Many patients may feel more comfortable when someone outside the family is providing these necessary and highly personal services.
Home health care providers often offer the highest level of direct patient care in terms of practical care such as bed changing, toileting and bathing. They generally are friendly people who have basic training in medications and their administration, knowledge of physical symptoms and the skill set to know when a health care professional with higher-level licensing needs to be notified of changes in a person’s condition.
Home health aides are also trained in the differences in the types of pain that various medical conditions cause for those with terminal illnesses. Whereas untrained family caregivers may likely give morphine to a patient suffering nerve pain, the home health aide’s training enables him or her to determine the type of pain that the patient is suffering and to choose the medically-approved pain treatment that will provide the most benefit for the person.
The home health aide at the certified nursing assistant licensing level is invaluable in providing education for the person who is ill, but also for sharing important information with the patient’s family. Often, understanding what is happening is empowering for everyone involved and can decrease feelings of anxiety of the unknown.
The trained home health aide is invaluable for both the person who is ill and their family members, who are also often suffering from worry and concern. Aides can provide caring objectivity and education as the patient and families navigate foreign territory. Often having an aide to help with education and compassionate caregiving during the turmoil that often coincides with terminal illness is invaluable for the mental and emotional well-being of all involved. Aides often develop relationships with family members, can ease suffering and give people the respect they need during their end-of-life process.
For more information about training to become a home health aide, visit http://www.certifiednursingassistant.org/.