For rehabilitation therapists, the wide array of facilities one can choose from is just one perk of many in a rewarding career. However, while certain facilities like hospitals are typically more desired locations, there are numerous benefits to home health care that many therapists can miss out on by not taking advantage of these opportunities.
Certified Home Health Agencies, or CHHAs, provide therapists with opportunities to care for patients in their own homes. These cases typically run 45 minutes to an hour, and therapists can choose to take on as many or as few cases as they’d like. In addition, therapists working with CHHAs have the freedom to arrange their own schedule to fit their needs.
This provides a level of flexibility not often available in other facilities. Since therapists in home health care are independent contractors, they can rearrange their schedule on a weekly basis if need be, or start off slow with a light caseload and take on more work as they gain experience. For those who do work in facilities with more structured hours, home health care offers the opportunity to take on extra work as the therapist has availability: for example, either on the weekends—since some facilities do not offer weekend services—or on the way home from work.
Furthermore, home care work is flexible with not only when a rehab professional works, but where. To fit cases into their personal schedule, therapists can take on work within specific areas if they wish; for example, a therapist can choose to work only within certain boroughs in New York City if that works best for them. This can help minimize the amount of travel required, which is often a common concern for therapists considering home health work.
In addition to flexibility, home health care offers therapists a chance to challenge their clinical competency. “Working in the home requires rehabilitation professionals to think on their feet and apply what they’ve learned in school,” says Tim Lynott, Account Executive of The Execu|Search Group’s Bridge Travel Healthcare division. “Whatever is happening in the home, you have to be prepared to react to it and help the patient cope. This is an independent role that requires a certain level of skill that can greatly improve a therapist’s career and put them ahead of the competition when job searching in the future.” Therapists can also accrue experience with performing evaluations, which is not always required in other facilities.
Many of these CHHAs have pressing needs in therapy and, while they do often prefer candidates with prior home health care experience, many still take on those who have not yet worked out of homes. Most will not turn away therapists simply because they lack this specific experience—in fact, some may even offer orientations to better situate them.
However, despite the many perks of home health work and the growing market in need of talent, many are hesitant to step into the world of home health care. According to Tim, rehabilitation therapists have more to gain by remaining open to these opportunities as long as they have good time management skills and are willing to carry their own equipment. “I always tell my candidates to at least try a case or two. By starting slow, you can tell if it’s for you, and I’ve had many hesitant candidates wind up loving it,” he says. “Of all the benefits of working within the home, the one I’ve seen therapists enjoy the most is the ability to create a bond with patients that you don’t always get in large facilities. Patients feel most comfortable in the home, so they are most likely to open up there and form a real connection with their provider. I truly believe home care work is one of the most passionate areas of the field.”