How to Pick the Right Nurse for In-Home Care

Selecting the ideal nurse for in-home care can seem like a challenging endeavor. You seek an individual who is not only skilled but also compassionate and reliable to tend to your beloved family member. With the increasing elderly demographic and the trend toward aging in place, the demand for in-home nursing care has surged.

Understanding the qualities to seek in a nurse and posing the appropriate inquiries during the selection procedure will aid you in locating the perfect candidate to deliver top-notch care within your residence. This all-inclusive guide encompasses all the factors you should contemplate when making the choice of the right nurse for in-home care.

What Kind of Nurse Do You Need?

When seeking an in-home nurse, begin by assessing the required level of care. Several prevalent categories of nurses offer in-home services.


Categories of Nurses

  • Registered Nurses (RNs): RNs can provide comprehensive assessments, develop care plans, administer medications, change wound dressings, operate medical equipment, and more. RNs have a broad range of skills to handle moderate to high-level care needs.
  • Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (LPNs/LVNs):  Under RN supervision, LPNs can monitor vitals, assist with activities of daily living, administer basic medications, and keep records. LPNs are a more affordable option for basic nursing care.
  • Nurse Practitioners (NPs): NPs can diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, order tests, and perform procedures. They provide a higher level of care, often managing chronic illnesses.
  • Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs): CNAs are not nurses but assist with daily activities like bathing, dressing, cooking, and light housekeeping. CNAs offer custodial care, not clinical care.

Think about the medical needs of your loved one and what type of credentials the nurse should have. A CNA would be appropriate for basic home help but an RN or NP could provide more advanced care for complex health issues. If you need a more highly qualified nurse, consider hiring one who has completed RN to FN programs to expand their skills. Matching the nurse’s abilities with the required care is crucial.

Check Licensure and Certifications:

When considering an in-home nurse, it is imperative that they possess an active nursing license in your state. You can easily confirm this by conducting a search on your state board of nursing’s license verification website. For instance, if you are in California, you should check the California Board of Registered Nursing website to validate the RN’s licensure.

Request to see a copy of the nurse’s license and cross-reference it with their other qualifications. It is vital to ensure that their license is not only valid but also up-to-date. This guarantees that the nurse has successfully completed the essential nursing education, examinations, and renewals required to practice legally.

Moreover, certifications relevant to the nurse’s area of specialization signify their expertise. Many home health nurses hold certifications in specific fields such as geriatrics (care of older adults), palliative care, wound care, and more. If you plan to seek reimbursement through Medicare or are utilizing a home health agency, it’s essential to verify that the nurse possesses the requisite certifications for the particular type of care needed.


Interview Potential Nurses:

An interview provides an opportunity to evaluate whether a nurse is a suitable match for providing in-home care for your loved one. It’s crucial to pose pertinent questions to prospective nurses.

Questions You Can Ask:

  • What is your experience in home health care, specifically in in-home nursing?: Prior experience in patient’s homes is preferred over solely having experience in hospital or nursing facility settings.
  • Can you share an instance where you successfully resolved a conflict with a patient or family member?: Evaluating conflict resolution skills is essential as in-home nurses frequently interact with families.
  • How do you cope with stressful situations?: The ability to manage stress is critical, especially in autonomous in-home roles where patients’ well-being is at stake.
  • Are you trained and CPR certified? Can you provide a current copy of your certification?: Up-to-date CPR certification is mandatory to ensure readiness to respond to emergencies.
  • What draws you to in-home care as opposed to other nursing environments?: The nurse’s response should convey genuine interest in home health nursing.

Additionally, inquire about the nurse’s care approach, experience with specific medical conditions, comfort level with technology required for care, and availability. Gaining insight into their personality and communication style will be beneficial for your family’s needs.



Perform a Background Check:

While licenses confirm a nurse’s credentials, a background check provides vital information on any past misconduct. This inside view into a nurse’s history is crucial for determining your loved one’s safety and well-being.

Background Checks Investigate:

  • County and state criminal records: Convictions for abuse, theft, or fraud must be avoided.
  • Sex offender registries: Mandatory for eliminating sexual predators.
  • Professional disciplinary records: Reveals license suspensions or revocations for unsafe practice.
  • Exclusion lists: Uncovers banning from state and federal healthcare programs for fraudulent billing.
  • Identity verification: Confirms accurate matching of the nurse’s information across all records.

While optional in most states, performing a background check is highly recommended as an extra degree of due diligence for in-home nurses. It is the best way to avoid potentially dangerous scenarios that putting your trust in the wrong nurse could lead to.

Trust Your Intuition:

Throughout the hiring process, pay attention to your instincts regarding the nurse’s trustworthiness and suitability for the role. If something doesn’t sit right, it’s important not to dismiss your intuition. Assuming the responsibility of selecting the right nurse for in-home care is a significant decision. It’s advisable to continue your search until you are confident in finding a nurse who is an excellent match.

You might also consider having the nurse shadow another home care nurse for a brief period or initiate a trial run before making a full commitment. This approach provides both you and the nurse an opportunity to ensure that it’s a promising long-term working relationship. There’s no need to rush into hiring the first candidate you interview; take your time to make the best possible choice for providing top-quality care.


Set Clear Expectations:

Once you’ve selected the right nurse, set clear expectations for responsibilities, communication policies, and reporting. Creating a mutually agreed-upon structure for day-to-day care and interactions avoids misunderstandings down the road. Key topics to clarify include:

  • Exact daily/weekly schedule the nurse will be onsite
  • Procedures for providing medication, treatments, therapies, etc.
  • Protocol for contacting the family with questions or issues
  • Process for recording and sharing status updates on the patient
  • Plan for coordinating doctor visits and providing transportation
  • Policies on medical emergencies and when to call 911
  • Responsibilities for other non-medical care like cooking, cleaning, errands
  • Payment schedule, overtime policies, and time off requests
  • Mandatory nursing documentation, record-keeping, and reporting
  • Expectations for professionalism, safety, patient privacy

Having clearly defined nursing duties and open communication channels provides accountability and consistency in care. Periodic check-ins on the agreement ensure satisfactory performance over the long run.


The choice of the perfect nurse for in-home care for your loved one holds enduring consequences. A nurse who combines compassion and competence offers comfort, safety, and assurance. Conversely, an unsuitable hire may result in overlooked or substandard care. To navigate this process effectively, it’s crucial to proceed with caution, meticulously assess credentials, conduct comprehensive interviews, perform background checks, and establish clear expectations. These steps help guarantee that you discover the ideal nurse to cater to your family’s specific needs. With the right nurse in position, you can have confidence that your beloved family member is receiving the attentive care and support they desire most – right in the comfort of their own home.