The overall health of people in a community is determinant of how well the community can overcome health challenges. For instance, urban settings are potential breed areas for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. Also, children’s well-being is still under the threat of certain preventable diseases, domestic violence, environmental toxins, and numerous accidents leading to injuries. Amid all such challenges, community health nurses can assist in the improvement of health outcomes within society.
Community health nurses have a wide array of roles. Hartzler et al. (2018) identify one role of a community health nurse is the provision of culturally appropriate health education and information. Such information pertains to how community members can maintain their health to reduce the chances of acquiring the disease and possibly, death. They organize educational gatherings, circulate fliers, and administer immunizations. They also have a role in providing informal counseling and social support. For example, in an incidence of rape within the community, they assist the victims in restoring their mental health and overcoming the trauma.
Besides, The American Public Health Association (APHA) requires that community health nurses be responsible for the provision of cultural mediation between communities and health and social service systems. In the case where a patient is of different cultural background as that of a doctor, for example, the community nurse will assist in communicating the unique needs of the patient to the doctor. By conducting these responsibilities, they contribute to the overall wholesomeness of the community.
Families of patients receiving home care also utilize the services of community health nurses. Such patients may include people who have dementia and other chronic diseases, hence reducing hospital expenses. Others may be aging patients who prefer to stay at home and receive care. One way in which nurses assist such families is by monitoring vital signs and symptoms (“Nurses Help Adults Manage Family Caregiving Responsibilities,” 2015). For patients suffering from diseases such as cancer, they regularly check for key indicators and call for medical help in case of deterioration.
Also, they assist in providing more information to the family members providing care for a patient at home. Such information may include how to measure dosages and how to perform first aid. Another way nurses assist families is by actively engaging in patient-centered care. This kind of care ensures that the patient has all the information on all decisions regarding his health. Research shows that such care correlates to better healthcare outcomes and quality of life (Smith et al., 2013). Conclusively, nurses are of great importance to patients’ families.
Although community nurses’ intentions are all for good, many barriers cloud their roles. One such hindrance is the patient’s preference. In a study by Chandrashekar et al., (2019), fifty-four percent of older patients suffering from severe illnesses prefer hospital than home care. Some patients highlight some of the reasons for such preference is that receiving care at home continually reminds them of their disease, hence losing the morale to fight their illnesses. Others view home care as an invasion of privacy. Another challenge by community health workers is the distrust of the community towards non-physician experts. Participants in a study by Heydari et al. (2016) indicate that they have less trust in community nurses than hospital nurses. Part of the reason being at hospitals, they feel secure due to the presence of physicians.
Moreover, systemic barriers, such as inadequate reimbursement of home health care workers, can reduce the impact it has on the community (Levine & Lee, 2017). Poorly paid nurses have less motivation to do the job. Hence, even though community nurses want to provide care, such barriers may make it a hard task for them.
Living in rural or urban settings influences home care services in different ways. One of them is in terms of provider supply. Urban areas have more home caregivers, making it more challenging to access these services in rural areas. Due to less amount, the practitioners in the rural may charge higher fees to keep more patients from accessing the service. Another difference is constraints concerning the patient’s resources. Rural patients are less financially stable than urban patients, hence less likely to have insurance covers. Such restrictions may limit their access to home care services, especially those with a direct referral from hospitals. Also, studies show that rural specialists are less likely to have board certification (Reschovsky & Staiti, 2015). Hence, the quality of care, whether home-based or hospital care, is expected to be better in the suburbs.
A review of this paper shows that community health nurses play a vital role in society. They also assist families of patients at home by advising them on how to take care of the ailing relatives better. However, they face significant challenges in their line of work. Some include patient preference and distrust by the communities. Also, there is a big difference in in-home care services in urban and rural areas. The urbanized population seems to be at more advantage of these services than their rural counterparts. It is empirical to bridge the gap between these communities by advocating for equal services. Also, individuals should work towards trusting community health nurses and accepting them into their homes. By doing so, they all raise a healthy community.
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Chandrashekar, P., Moodley, S., & Jain, S. (2019). 5 Obstacles to Home-Based Health Care, and How to Overcome Them. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://hbr.org/2019/10/5-obstacles-to-home-based-health-care-and-how-to-overcome-them.
Hartzler, A., Tuzzio, L., Hsu, C., & Wagner, E. (2018). Roles and Functions of Community Health Workers in Primary Care. The Annals Of Family Medicine, 16(3), 240-245. https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.2208
Heydari, H., Shahsavari, H., Hazini, A., & Nasrabadi, A. (2016). Exploring the Barriers of Home Care Services in Iran: A Qualitative Study. Scientifica, 2016, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/2056470
Levine, C., & Lee, T. (2017). “I Can Take Care of Myself!” Patients’ Refusals of Home Health Care Services [Ebook]. United Hospital Fund. Retrieved 30 June 2020, from http://ahhqi.org/media-center/attach/109-1.pdf.
Nurses Help Adults Manage Family Caregiving Responsibilities. RWJF. (2015). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/articles-and-news/2015/11/nurses-help-adults-manage-caregiving-responsibilities.html.
Reschovsky, J., & Staiti, A. (2015). Access And Quality: Does Rural America Lag Behind?. Health Affairs, 24(4), 1128-1139. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.24.4.1128
Smith, M., Saunders, R., Stuckhardt, L., & McGinnis, J. M. (2013). Engaging patients, families, and communities. In Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America. National Academies Press (US).
Support for Community Health Workers to Increase Health Access and to Reduce Health Inequities. Apha.org. (2020). Retrieved 30 June 2020, from https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2014/07/09/14/19/support-for-community-health-workers-to-increase-health-access-and-to-reduce-health-inequities.