Visiting Nurse Service - What to Know

When it's time to look for a little extra help for mom or dad in home-based situations, a visiting nurse service is certainly a good option.

It's important to know what such caregiver agencies provide and what they don't before contacting an agency.

What is a visiting nurse service?

Visiting nurse services provide a variety of options for not only home bound seniors or the disabled, but for communities. Visiting services provide expertise in hands-on medically based care in home healthcare scenarios, as well as hospice or end-of-life care situations. In home environments, a visiting nurse services can provide not only trained, certified and licensed nurses, but physical, occupational, and speech and language therapist, social workers, dietitians, and home health care aides, all working under a primary care physician’s instructions and guidance.

Questions to ask

When searching for caregiver agencies or a visiting service that will meet your needs, it's important to ask questions. Don't be shy or hesitant. You are expected to ask these questions, and the visiting nurse service will be ready with answers.

Is the visiting nurse service facility licensed?

This is an important question to ask. Any visiting nurse facility you choose should be licensed and certified as a healthcare agency not only by state or region where they're located but by state or federal or national programs.  This ensures that staff are professionals, trained, certified, and capable of providing high-quality services as listed.

Who makes up the staff of the visiting nurse service?

Most nurse services provide staff such as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) as well as other licensed, bonded, and insured staff including therapists, medical social workers, certified home health care aides, dietitians, and more.

Is staff supervised, and who supervises them?

Licensed visiting nurses must follow regional, state, and federal guidelines in regard to the services and quality of care provided by all employees and staff.

The home health care aides or other support staff work under the supervision of a registered and licensed nurse or therapist. The nurses and therapists themselves report to and are under the supervision of clinical care managers.  A case manager from caregiver agencies typically attends care conferences or meetings with physicians and other ancillary medical support staff individuals to ensure continuity of care.

Visiting nurses are trained to perform the same types of services, treatments and procedures as they would do in a hospital or clinical setting. Visiting nurses can visit private homes, assisted living facilities, hospice facilities, and other locations, although most visiting nurses today are employed by a home health care agency or by nonprofit community services or organizations. Some visiting nurses are also independent contractors or self-employed.

How much do visiting nurse services cost?

Costs for caregiver agencies is dependent on the service requested, the time spent performing certain tasks, and geographic location. Costs also depend whether the individual has Medicare, Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, or coverage offered through retirement or employee retirement plans. In the U.S., Medicare Part A will fund the visiting nurses or those who provide skilled care on an intermittent or part-time basis as long as those services are prescribed by a doctor and the visiting nurse service is a certified home health care agency.

Costs also depend on the agency, the skill set required by the visiting nurse, and other considerations. However, on a national basis, a registered nurse averages earnings between $20 and $37 an hour, with a median of $26 an hour. A licensed practical nurse earns a national hourly rate between $14 and $25 an hour, with the median pay scale averaging $18 an hour.

When considering costs, don't forget that the visiting nurse service will naturally have overhead costs that may also be added to the cost of the nurse’s hourly wage. Again, this depends on the agency, the services required, the expertise or skill set needed, and additional considerations.

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