It has been almost 5 months since I started working as a home health physical therapist. And I have to say that I absolutely love this job! There are days that it gets crazy when you need back to back patients and there are days that I feel like that I am not working at all!
Most people will tell you that paperwork is harrowing – and that is very true – especially when you do a Start of care or an admission. A typically try to see 5-6 patients a day and more than 7 – is just downright erratic. During my first two months of having patients, I usually do my charting at end of the day after seeing all my patients. However, I have since changed that and have been almost religously doing my charting with my patients as they rest in between activities or after a set or two of exercises. This is achievable usually if it is just a regular visit, doing an evaluation, a functional assessment or an admission – is 100% done at the end of the day or during my lunchbreak.
Just to give you a breakdown, and I am not sure if this holds true in other home health care companies – but for us 1 unit = 1 visit. A regular visit is 1 unit, an evaluation is 1.5 unit and a start of care/admission is equivalent to 2 units. And we are tasked to do 25-30 units per week, or 5-6 units a day. But, more often than not, I have gone more than 6 a day. I am trying to learn to juggle my patient schedule to keep it within that range.
A start of care visit a.k.a admission can last from 45minutes to an hour, the paperwork for it last for another 2 or even 3 hours – depending on the patient’s comorbidities and number of medications that patient is taking. And an evaluation would entail the same amount of visit time and an hour for charting.
And don’t forget the time that you need to call your patient’s doctors, sending faxes and talking with family for creating the best plan of care for your patient.
Time management is the key – and learing when to take a break is also necessary. Trying to power through sometimes can backfire.
And everyday is an adventure! Yesterday, I was teaching a patient on how to use sit on her four wheeled walker while opening and closing the door without losing her balance in an assisted living facility, went over a home exercise program with a patient’s caregiver who lives in a trailer home, taught a 97 year old how to get up from the floor in the event of a fall.
I have to say the toughest part of being a home health physical therapist is saying goodbye. When the time comes that you have to discharge them from your services either because they reached their goals (Yes!) or gotten them to the best that you can get them at – saying goodbye is heartbreaking – but needed. After you have done your service, it is time to focus your energy, love and time to a new patient that direly needs your help to hopefully reach independence in the functional mobility.
Here are just some tips on being an effective Home Health Physical Therapist:
- Plan your next week schedule by Thursday or Friday the week prior. Call your patients and see what time works for them.
- Organize your files alphabetically. You never know when you need to call your patient’s primary care physician and have your patient’s information on hand within reach while in your car/office.
- Try to do your charting with your patient before you leave their house. Or type away in your car before you see your next patient.
- Drink water before and after you see a patient when you get back in your car.
- Have a healthy snack every two hours to keep your metabolism up and your brain sharp.
- Everytime you find a good restroom in an assisted living or group home – use it! Or make your pit stop at a walgreens or riteaid.
- Be considerate when going to your patient’s home. We may be their home health care providers – but we are mere visitors in their home.
- Learn to go with the flow. As much as you try to schedule your day to a tee – there will be cancellations, there will be times you will finish early or later with a patient. Just roll with the punches.