News

There's no place like Home Care

Providing a personal level of caring that makes a difference in clients' lives

Christine St. George is Home Care Visiting Nurse.
Christine St. George is Home Care Visiting Nurse.
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Video: There's no place like Home Care

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Not all nurses work in a hospital or health care facility. For Home Care Visiting Nurse Christine St. George, a typical day is spent largely in her clients' homes, conducting ongoing health assessments, ensuring that they are coping well within the home, and making sure that family members or caregivers have the support they need within the health-care system.

And St. George wouldn't have it any other way.

"Being a Home Care nurse is a wonderful job," she says. "It's a very different type of nursing. I have to admit that when it's -40C and the streets are bad and you're trudging through snowbanks up to your knees to get to your client's home, it can be daunting, but if you make it through your first winter with Home Care, you're usually hooked."

As a Home Care nurse for the past 11 years, St. George has helped people live at home, remaining independent for as long as possible, and thereby avoiding or delaying the need for them to stay in hospitals or long-term care facilities.

"Success in this role comes in the form of watching clients become as empowered and as independent as possible. That's our goal," St. George says.

"I can't imagine what the world would look like without Home Care. It's a scary thought. We have seniors living on their own with minimal to no support. We are there to support parents who have children with illness to seniors. We are their advocates . . . I think hospitals would be overwhelmed with the number of people they would have to treat and find beds for. It would be detrimental for clients and families if they didn't have our support."

Helping clients maintain their independence often means helping them focus on the positive, St. George says. "Sometimes they get stuck focusing on what they can't do, so we try to refocus them on what they can do," she says.

"Watching people go from being very dependent to realizing that, 'Yes, I can do this' is absolutely fantastic. The flipside of that is that if it's a diagnosis for someone who is not going to get better, who is going to deteriorate due to a chronic medical condition, it's knowing that you've done everything you can for that person to give them the best quality of life they can achieve, and to be a support for the families. When you walk through the door, and the client is smiling and happy to see you, and the family members are happy to see you, that is very rewarding."

Working in Home Care also offers nurses an opportunity to do what they often do best: Provide a personal level of caring that makes a real difference in people's lives.

"I love that one-on-one with clients," St. George says. "It's so much more than just going there and giving a needle or tending to a wound. It's ensuring that they are doing OK. They are trusting you to come into their home, and so the relationship is quite different.

"Quite often, we're the only people they will see that day. Having a visit while you are taking care of them, making them feel like they are a person and that they matter to someone is really important. Not all of our clients have family or advocates, so for clients to know we're coming in, they feel at ease. They know that someone with medical knowledge is coming to care for their medical needs, do comprehensive assessments and advocate for them through the health-care system. It gives them peace of mind."

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