Preparing for a Home Visit
Most agencies have a policy manual that states their philosophy and procedures and defines the services they provide. Becoming familiar with these policies is an essential step before initiating a home visit. It is also important to know the agency’s policies and the state law regarding what actions to take if the nurse finds a patient dead, encounters an abusive situation in the family, or de-termines that a patient cannot safely remain at home.
Before making a home visit, the nurse should review the pa-tient’s referral form and other pertinent data concerning the patient. It may be necessary to contact the referring agency if the purpose for the referral is unclear or if important information is missing.
The first step is to call the patient to obtain permission to visit, schedule a time for the visit, and verify the address. This initial phone conversation provides an opportunity to introduce one-self, identify the agency, and explain the reason for the visit.
If a patient does not have a telephone, the nurse should see whether those who made the referral have a number where a phone message can be left for the patient. If an unannounced visit must be made to a patient’s home, the nurse should ask permis-sion to come in before entering the house. Explaining the pur-pose of the referral at the outset and setting up the times for future visits before leaving are also recommended approaches.
Most agencies provide nurses with bags that contain standard supplies and equipment needed during home visits. It is impor-tant to keep the bag properly supplied and to bring any additional items that might be needed for the visit. Patients usually do not have the medical supplies they need for treatment.
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