What Does a Home Health Nurse Do?

Female nurse aiding a senior man with walking at home

One of the many wonderful things about being a nurse is having the opportunity to use your skills to improve patients’ lives. One way to use your nursing skills is to provide care for your patients in the comfort of their homes as a home health nurse.

According to research, patients who received home care services had better medication compliance, higher care satisfaction and better quality of life.1 As a home health nurse, you can play an integral role in the healing process.

But what does a home health nurse do for their patients? Read all about it here and explore the many benefits of this important nursing role.

In This Article:

What Is a Home Health Nurse?

The role of the home health nurse arose from a need to provide care to underserved populations, particularly in rural areas where many people had trouble accessing hospitals in bigger cities due to geographic distance or cost.2

Home health nursing can improve patient outcomes as well as have an impact on reducing the cost of care. Early visits by a home health nurse can help keep patients out of the hospital and avoid emergency room visits.1

Home Health Nurse Duties

Home healthcare nurses have a wide array of responsibilities during their home visits. Regardless of the setting, home health nurses follow the nursing process:3

  • Assess: Check vital signs and track patients’ trends — monitor mobility, diet, pain relief and other metrics. It is essential to assess the patient first to improve their health outcomes.
  • Diagnose: Nursing diagnoses address actual or potential health problems on the part of the patient, family or community.
  • Plan: Outline actionable steps the patient or family can take to help them progress toward mutually agreed goals.
  • Intervention: Health activities such as administering medications, filling pill reminder boxes, performing wound care and dressing changes and educating patients and their families are just a few of the interventions.
  • Evaluation: Measure the intervention’s results and determine whether it improved the problem. Adjust the plan if the goal is not met.

Home health nurses don’t just care for the elderly and sick; they can provide in-home services to patients of all ages, including newborns and children.

Among the essential home health nurse duties is patient education. Home health nurses often need to explain healthcare matters to patients and their families, as well as what to monitor when the nurse is not around, like the signs and symptoms of infection or when to seek help if something doesn’t seem right.

It’s worth noting that not all home health nurses have the same credentials and training, and job duties can vary depending on the level of nursing. For instance, a home health professional may be a nurse assistant, licensed vocational or practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).

A nurse assistant may:

  • Record patient concerns and report them to the supervising nurse
  • Perform basic nursing tasks
  • Help patients with mobility and the activities of daily living (ADLs)

An LPN may:

  • Assist patients with ADLs
  • Check patients’ vital signs, including blood pressure
  • Document patient information, symptoms and concerns
  • Maintain health records
  • Provide wound care and other basic health services

An RN may:

  • Assess patients and develop or contribute to treatment plans
  • Administer medications and intravenous infusions
  • Record health histories and symptoms
  • Set up, operate and monitor healthcare equipment
  • Perform diagnostic tests

Pros and Cons of Home Health Nursing

Being a home health nurse is not without challenges. Home health nurses usually work by themselves. This means that to be successful, nurses need to be flexible, adaptable, patient and personable, as this job offers considerable autonomy.4

Adaptability may help nurses work with a wide range of patients. When entering a patient's home, they may encounter variable living conditions and different socioeconomic, cultural or religious preferences among their patients. As with any nursing profession, they must put aside any preconceptions and provide the same quality and compassionate care to everyone.

Home health nurses may find the emotional bonds they form with their patients to be rewarding. By reducing their patients’ stress and helping them avoid long travel distances to get care, nurses have the opportunity to see their patients’ health and quality of life improve.1

In short, here’s a quick look at some of the pros and cons of home health nursing:


  • Greater autonomy
  • Ability to develop strong rapport with patients and their families
  • Flexible schedule
  • Diverse environments
  • Personal fulfillment


  • Less of a team work environment
  • The need to drive from one patient’s home to the next
  • Unpredictability can keep nurses on their toes

Qualities of a Home Health Caregiver

Some of the most important qualities of a home health professional include flexibility, communication skills, adaptability and time management.4 Home health nurses must also have empathy and the ability to build trusting patient relationships.4 Balancing the challenges and rewards is vital to a successful home health nursing career.

Other things to consider when becoming a home health nurse include how far you are willing to travel to care for your patients and how you will get there — personal car, company car or public transportation. If you live in a city center, you may not have to travel very far, but if you live in a rural community, it may take longer. Be sure to discuss travel arrangements and nursing supplies with your employer.

Salary Expectations for Home Health Nurses

Home health nurses can work in a variety of settings, such as clients’ homes, group homes or home health agencies. Most agencies have agreements with multiple private insurance companies or with Medicare or Medicaid to provide care to patients in their homes at the direction of a medical provider.

But how much does a home health nurse make? Regional variations and different levels of education among home health nurses mean that the salary for a home health nurse can vary across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), however, the median annual wage for all types of RNs — not just home health RNs — was $86,070 as of May 2023.5

Become a Home Health Nurse

Today’s home health nurses serve a vital role in our healthcare ecosystem by delivering personalized nursing care in a familiar environment. These healthcare professionals can contribute to better patient outcomes, improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs.1

If you enjoy the autonomy to care for your patients one-on-one in the comfort of their own home, and if you thrive on being able to adapt and solve problems, then home health nursing may be right for you.

Grand Canyon University offers aspiring nurses the opportunity to leverage prior non-nursing college education toward a nursing degree. You can get started on your nursing career by applying to the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at GCU, which may allow you to graduate in as few as 16 months.6 Fill out the form on this page to learn more and connect with a university counselor. 

1 Lizano-Díez, I., Amaral-Rohter, S., Pérez-Carbonell, L., & Aceituno, S. (2021, Aug. 31). Impact of Home Care Services on Patient and Economic Outcomes: A Targeted Review. Home Health Care Management & Practice. SagePub.com. Retrieved March 15, 2024.

National Library of Medicine. (1983). Alleviating Nursing Shortages in Medically Underserved Areas and Among Undeserved Populations. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved April 25, 2024. 

Toney-Butler, T. J., & Thayer, J. M. (2020, April 14). PubMed. Nursing Process. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved March 15, 2024. 

Indeed. (2022, June 24). 10 skills needed to become a home health aide. Retrieved March 15, 2024. 

The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Registered Nurses as of May 2023, retrieved on March 15, 2024. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2023 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Registered Nurses. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates. 

6 Secondary applicants must transfer a minimum of 60 of the required 123 credits or have completed a baccalaureate degree which includes nine prerequisite courses/labs and 10 general education courses prior to starting the core nursing courses, which can be completed in as few as 16 months. Direct entry applicants that do not transfer 60 credits but meet the minimum requirements can complete these credits through GCU prior to starting the core nursing courses. Depending on the state where student has enrolled or intends to complete the program, student may require additional courses. This may include, but is not limited to, additional general education courses, courses in the major, clinical courses, or a different course sequence. See University Policy Handbook

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions on April 16, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.