“There is good evidence that shift work has negative effects on workers’ health, safety, and performance.” Research into the impact of shift work on professionals, authors Rathore, Shikla, Singh, and Tiwari explain, has consistently identified a range of negative physical, psychological, and social outcomes for the care providers. Those negative outcomes related to:

  1. insufficient sleep
  2. an inability to tend to the needs of their own children and spouses
  3. Poor eating habits 

"There is strong evidence that shift work is related to a number of serious health conditions, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity," says Frank Scheer PhD, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Shift work disrupts the circadian rhythm, affecting our cardiovascular system, metabolism, digestion, immune system, and hormonal balance. Shift work is linked to stomach problems and ulcers, depression, and an increased risk of accident and injury, Sheer goes on to explain.

Needless to say, concerns about patient safety and the quality of care received by home health patients are related to the risks inherent in night work. The goals of home health care services include:

  • helping individuals to improve function and live with greater independence
  • promoting clients’ optimal level of well-being;
  • assisting patients to remain at home, avoiding hospitalization or admission to long-term care institutions

Promoting patients’ well-being and improving function is inextricably related to pressure ulcer (bed sore) prevention. Yet despite universal acceptance of the fact that turning is the most important factor in bed sore prevention, “many facilities (hospitals and nursing homes) fail to properly implement turning techniques– it is hard, labor-intensive work,” writes the Nursing Home Law Center.  Pressure ulcers can easily develop when pressure on the skin and underlying tissues restrict blood flow to the area.

Homebound patients need to be turned at night – there’s no escaping that fact. Night shift nursing staff must be diligent, and their work demands strength and stamina.  Action Products does all it can to mitigate stress for both patient and caregiver by providing specialized products, designed to mitigate the four factors that cause pressure injury (pressure, shear, heat, and humidity). Action products’, including mattress overlays and wheelchair cushions, are made of Akton® polymer gel, specifically designed to redistribute weight and heat, and never require kneading, pumping, or inflating. 

“The presence of healthy and well-rested nurses is critical to providing vigilant monitory, empathetic patient care, and vigorous advocacy,” the authors of the Patient Safety and Quality: an Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses” observe. A sampling of strategies suggested in the literature for shift work include designing new work schedules and rest breaks during work, altering circadian rhythms with bright light or blue light, optimally timing physical activity or other work demands, improving physical conditioning, using caffeine, planning dietary regimens, stress reduction, support groups, and family counseling.