Anyone who has ever dealt with home nursing knows how crazy it can be. There are, however, a few technological advancements that can make the entire experience a whole lot easier for both your family and your nurses. In this article, we will look at just a few of them: the combination door lock, the emergency button, apps for caregiving and communicating, and the IP camera.
The Combination Door Lock
When you have home nurses, it often feels like you have a revolving front door. Every day, afternoon, or night, someone is walking through the front door. Sometimes it can be as many as three different people every day!
To simplify the process of letting nurses in and out, many families have replaced their regular dead bolt or doorknob lock with a combination lock. These locks require an individual to enter a combination that will then unlock the door. Available models typically cost $50-100.
These are not the combination locks on your school locker or your college dorm door. These locks are highly programmable, allowing you to issue a separate combination code for each of your nurses. When you fire a nurse, you can simply remove his or her access code so the nurse can no longer enter the home.
The one disadvantage of these locks is that your nurse can always enter your home once he or she has a code. I would suggest pairing the lock with either a second lock that cannot be opened by nurses or a safety chain in order to prevent nurses from entering the home when you do not want them there. A regular keyed deadbolt along with a combination doorknob lock works well for many families.
The Emergency Button
One of the things my husband hated most about home nursing was nurses traipsing upstairs and pounding on our bedroom door whenever there was a problem. Not only did this wake up the entire family, but it was also quite an invasion of privacy.
We remedied this situation by installing the equivalent of a nurse call or emergency code button. First, we purchased an inexpensive wireless doorbell and mounted it next to our daughter’s bed. These are widely available, and only cost $6 to $30. We then placed the receiver upstairs in our bedroom. Whenever a nurse had a problem, he or she simply pressed the emergency button, alerting us that assistance was needed.
Note that you need to make sure that the wireless doorbell you are purchasing is not on the same frequency as your regular doorbell (or a nearby neighbor’s) to prevent accidental alarms. Many doorbells allow you to change the frequency if there is an overlap. In addition, make sure to purchase a doorbell with a decent range. Some only work if the receiver is very close to the doorbell unit, while others have a much longer wireless range.
Apps for Caregiving and Communicating
For many families, the communication book is a vital part of care. This book, which is typically just a spiral notebook or binder, is where both parents and nurses share daily updates, such as medication changes, changes in care, and other critical information.
These days, many families are beginning to switch to online or app-based systems to replace the communication book. These vary widely, but may include such beneficial features as medication alerts, the ability to send a critical update to a group of people, information storage, calendar-based updating, and many other features.
Some of these apps are available for free, and most are low-cost. Some of the more highly-featured programs require a monthly or annual fee for use.
While there are far too many apps to list here, some of the highly recommended apps include the following:
The IP Camera
Another concern of parents is that the home nurse will abuse their child, sleep, or simply not provide appropriate care. Many families choose to monitor home nurses using video systems. While traditional baby cams and hidden cameras work fine, some families have found that wireless or wired IP cameras are an even better choice.
These cameras, which can be hooked into your family’s wireless network, are not particularly pricy, at only $20-$100. They can be mounted anywhere, and many include multiple modes, such as panning, tilting, and night vision.
Even better is the fact that you can view the video feed from your computer or smartphone whenever you want. Many models even allow you to stream the video feed remotely on your smartphone no matter where you are.
Tech it Up!
These strategies are only the beginning. In a few years, I expect we will be able to monitor and control our child’s medical technology (vent, pulse ox, feeding pump, etc.) wirelessly and remotely through our Smartphones. Technology can help simplify the difficult process of dealing with in-home nursing.