Protect Yourself When You Hit the Road Home visits can cut solo practice costs. But be ready to handle some unpredictability and mess—and to put professionalism first. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   February 01, 2015
Protect Yourself When You Hit the Road
Author Notes
  • Michelle Zeglin, MA, CCC-SLP, owns Simply Communication Ltd., a home-based speech, language and feeding treatment company in Carol Stream, Illinois, that specializes in early intervention. zeglinmichelle@gmail.com
    Michelle Zeglin, MA, CCC-SLP, owns Simply Communication Ltd., a home-based speech, language and feeding treatment company in Carol Stream, Illinois, that specializes in early intervention. zeglinmichelle@gmail.com×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   February 01, 2015
Protect Yourself When You Hit the Road
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, 38. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.20022015.38
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, 38. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.20022015.38
When you consider private practice, your first question might be where to locate your business. But there is another option: providing home health care services and avoiding the expense of an office.
Of course, visiting clients’ homes requires you to be cautious and ready to protect yourself. As I know from experience, you never know what you might encounter. I find that I can avoid some “sticky” situations by stocking my car with supplies: disposable gloves, face masks, a change of clothes, garbage bags, hand sanitizer, cleansing wipes and hair clips/rubber bands.
A client or someone in the client’s house is ill and you haven’t been notified? You have hand sanitizer, gloves and a face mask to protect you from germs. A child throws food at you, gets sick on you, or otherwise spills on you? Your change of clothes can save the day. And pulling long hair up and out of the way can keep it away from grabby hands.
As clinicians, we benefit by seeing clients in their natural environments, but we also need to ensure that we don’t contaminate those environments as we move among them. A cleansing wipe will help clean any toys or tools you bring with you. Judicious use of garbage bags and the change of clothes may help keep you from picking up any lice or bed bugs, which easily transfer.

As clinicians, we benefit by seeing clients in their natural environments, but we also need to ensure that we don’t contaminate those environments as we move among them.

In addition to carrying supplies, remember to think through basic decisions and the possible consequences. Part of our job in providing services is to build rapport and help others, but we can’t forget that we have been contracted to perform a job—so don’t get too comfortable.
Even something as simple as using a client’s restroom could be problematic if, for example, the plumbing clogs. This awkward situation could even result in damage to the client’s home—and who is responsible for repairs? Plan your travel to include restroom breaks elsewhere.
When you arrive at the client’s home, park on the street if possible. You don’t want to block the family’s transportation if they need to leave the house and your car has an unexpected flat tire.
Some other things to keep in mind:
  • To protect yourself from children making false allegations about your actions, make sure there is a caregiver present when you work with a child.

  • As a health care professional, you are mandated to report suspected abuse and neglect.

  • Make sure you always have your phone and call 911 if you, your client or a caregiver is in danger.

  • If you are uncomfortable, let your employer know, or consider discontinuing services with that client.

  • Keep your belongings and yourself safe. Lock your car, make sure you don’t carry valuables with you or leave them visible in your car, always keep your car well maintained, and make sure your car has plenty of gasoline.

Providing services to families in their homes is a wonderful way to start a practice, receive referrals and expand a current practice. Enjoy the great experience but be prepared.
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February 2015
Volume 20, Issue 2