After procedures have been performed and patients sent home, wound care and home care nurses play a large role in producing positive outcomes, working to ensure patients remain on the path to recovery.
Jocelyne Francois, MSN, RN, WOCN, wound care ostomy continence nurse at MJHS Home Care in Brooklyn, N.Y., knows the rewards of the field, as well as the challenges, having worked as a WOC nurse since 1993. To help her fellow WOC nurses succeed, Francois offered these tips:
When treating wounds, nurses often first must find ways to deal with potentially uncooperative people, whether they be doctors, patients or patients families.
When diagnosing a patients hesitance, Francois encourages colleagues to look beneath the surface.
There are usually deeper reasons for patients who are uncooperative than what is obvious, Francois said.
Patients difficulty may spring from a lack of financial resources, producing worries over paying a bill, or leaving them unable to purchase healthier foods or living in potentially unsanitary or unsafe conditions unconducive to healing.
At other times, difficulties may arise out of cultural differences, restricting patients from appropriately modifying lifestyles, including diet.
Francois said in all circumstances, however, nurses should strive to understand the underlying cause, and pursue a collaborative environment. Further, she advised nurses to identify and enlist someone trusted by the patient to help communicate the message the nurse wishes to convey.
That person will be an important advocate in terms of getting the patient to transition to a healthier lifestyle and to follow a plan of care, Francois said.
Should difficulties be complicated by uncooperative physicians, Francois advised a similar strategy.
My advice is to befriend a member of the physicians staff and learn when its best to call or leave a message, she said.
Wounds may prove to be more troublesome than expected. In these cases, Francois advises nurses to continue to set and define treatment goals, but remain adaptable, in consultation with physicians, patients and their families.
Each patient case is as different as each patient, she said, meaning nurses should be prepared to constantly evaluate everything.
Sometimes, even the best nurses may need someone with a different skill set or expertise.
Patients with difficulties at home, financial problems, or having trouble adapting their lifestyles to a plan of care may need a social worker just as much as a medical professional, for instance.
Should nurses encounter trying cases, they should not hesitate to reach out to experienced colleagues for guidance, Francois said.
In healthcare today, home care has been enhanced by the spread of mobile telecommunications. In wound care, for instance, wound photography has become a great assessment tool for nurses to gain additional, visual information about wounds prior to proposing recommendations, Francois said.
However, she cautioned nurses to follow appropriate protocols and use encryption software to ensure images are received in real time and to reduce the risk of violating patient confidentiality.
She also advised nurses to take advantage of their smartphones to access online resources when providing home care.