November is National Home Care and Hospice Month, a time to recognize the essential role of our industry’s dedicated nurses, therapists, home health aides and other critical workers. They are key to home care and hospice’s growing role in the delivery of healthcare throughout the country. Experts agree that the shift is on toward home and community-based care as the destiny of much health care.
As this shift occurs, agencies have implemented quality improvement processes, shifted focus to strengthen patient-centered care, adapted various federal financial payment systems, and sought to continue their work in the community. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to forget that the personal relationship between the client and the caregiver is at the heart of quality home care.
As hardy New Englanders, it’s often difficult to admit that we need help. This can be particularly true as we age and don’t necessarily like the idea of inviting “strangers” into our home. Will they judge us, our cleaning habits, our pets? How much intrusion will this mean for our family?
Home care and hospice workers enter people’s lives at a time when they are physically and mentally vulnerable. We need staff with a very special set of skills, built on respect for the client and acceptance of the person in their home.
In long term care, home health aides typically join in people’s daily lives. They provide company and conversation, assistance with personal care, and a general sharing of warmth and support.
During our discussions about health care policies, payment systems and quality indicators, we need to remember the personal relationship that’s at the heart of home care.
It’s the compassionate caring of one human being for another. It’s listening and sharing and comforting in the face of pain and loss. It’s understanding that we all need help sometimes.
This month we celebrate those who care, who help so many elders and those with chronic illnesses to live independent and enriching lives. Our ability to age well in a supportive and caring community is essential to the future. Let’s keep building toward that goal.
(”Home Care Matters” is a monthly column written by Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice, sharing information on healthy aging and important home health topics. Past columns can be accessed at the agency’s website, www.VNHCH.org.)