In honor of National Respiratory Care Week, we participated in a ride along with Mark, Respiratory Care Practitioner (RCP) at Independence Plus, to find out what a day in the life is like for RCPs who work in homecare.
“Homecare RCPs do everything hospital RCPs do, as well as driving to multiple patient’s homes in a day, dealing with inclement weather as they deliver supplies, and responding at all hours of the night to assure our patients are safe and comfortable,” says Kathleen Keating, CRT, RCP, Director of HME Services.
Our RCPs (pictured above) always have patient care in mind, either by helping a ventilator-dependent patient breathe easier to enhance their quality of life, training patients and families at home, or performing set-ups and home evaluations.
Visiting our patients a minimum of one time per month, RCPs also deliver equipment and supplies, perform ventilator checks and trach changes, check vital signs, listen to lung sounds, measure oxygen levels, and more.
Best Part of the Job
After the Respiratory HME department’s daily 9:30 a.m. check-in meeting is finished, Mark heads out for his day. He’s visiting four patients and will spend approximately 30 minutes at each patient’s home. Our RCPs visit up to six patients every day.
“The best part of our job is when you’re able to truly help someone else,” Mark begins.
Mark talks about when he has come to the rescue of our ventilator-dependent patients—either when a patient was in respiratory distress or having trouble breathing. This often happens after hours when Mark and the other RCPs are on call.
Getting to Know Every Patient
“Getting to know every patient and their ‘normal’ is the most important part of my job,” Mark says.
He continues to explain, “With our ventilator-dependent patients, everything starts slow. Our patients may be a little short of breath, or have some sputum or a cough. It’s our job to figure out what’s normal and what’s not normal for our patients—and then act.”
Identifying a baseline for every patient is what helps Mark and our other RCPs identify issues before they become real problems for our patients.
Greatest Success Stories
“We have a lot of success stories here,” Mark shares.
He tells me about Onix Flores who spent seven years at a nursing home before she came home as one of Independence Plus’ first Respiratory HME patients.
Onix has been home for almost seven years now, and has never been readmitted to a hospital or facility. Every month, one of our RCPs visits her to bring new supplies, check the ventilator, and sometimes, even change her trach.
The next story Mark shares is about one of our ventilator-dependent patients who hadn’t spoken in four years while she was living at a facility. Coming home with Independence Plus—and an order for a Passy-Muir Valve—she was able to speak for the first time on the vent. She was surrounded by her family at home—and they were all in tears.
“I told the family, you may regret this because she’s going to talk non-stop now!” he laughs. Not only does Mark care for our vent patients at home, but he also tries to bring a smile to their faces during every visit.
After driving almost 200 miles with Mark during our ride along, it’s clear that Independence Plus’ RCPs truly care about the services they provide to our patients each and every day.
Happy Respiratory Care Week from our Respiratory Care Practitioners to yours!