While much of the home health care community continued to reel from the onslaught of challenges faced from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hearts for Home Care advocate and BAYADA Home Health Care office director Cathy Slack has remained focused on the many positives. Namely, throughout the pandemic, she witnessed many caregivers, office staff, clients, and families advocate for better access to care, and also witnessed the state government’s response to hearing these voices.
One of the major wins that New Hampshire’s home care community saw as a result of their continued advocacy was the development of the Long-Term Care Stabilization Stipend Program (LTCSS), which served to borrow money from the state’s General Fund in order to offer stipends to essential healthcare staff to continue to work throughout the pandemic.
The state’s actions created an incredible domino effect that kept the positive changes coming. In Cathy’s office, coverage hours and the number of employed nurses both increased as RNs and LPNs transferred their passion for caregiving from their usual settings to the home care community. One such example is former full-time school nurse Laura Walker, who came to home care full-time after COVID suddenly halted normal school activity. Her transition was an immense positive for both Laura and her pediatric client, G, and G’s family. Laura’s care enabled them to feel security and peace-of-mind as G’s medical and academic routine suddenly flipped without warning.
“One day my medically fragile, intellectually disabled child went to school every day from 8 am to 3 pm where she was cared for by a nursing team and then came home to nursing services from the time she got off the bus until she went to bed. G’s school transferred to remote learning seamlessly, but how would my daughter respond to this new way of learning?” said G’s mom Michele. “My biggest concerns were: would she remain engaged without the school nurse keeping her safe, and how would she remain healthy at home with this gap in medical services? This is where Laura stepped up and went above and beyond.”
“These nurses put their own safety on the line to not stay home every day but to come out and care for our child. The stipend they earned through the state’s program was well deserved and I am grateful as a parent and a citizen of New Hampshire that the monetary recognition was given,” says Michele.
Michelle’s testimony is one of many that shows how medically-fragile families were given a lifeline through LTCSS during a time of uncertainty. Thank you to the many Hearts for Home Care Advocates, and to the State of New Hampshire, for making this lifeline available to the many residents that need home care to stay safe and healthy at home. To find out more about how Hearts for Home Care operates in New Hampshire or elsewhere, contact us at email@example.com.
NJ Blog Takeover: Michelle, who is the sister of TBI Victim Brandy Lino-Corona, writes about her sister’s life after becoming severely disabled – and how working with nurses through NJ’s Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program has helped her family define their new normal.
victims of traumatic brain injuries, access to reliable home health care can be
the deciding factor that keeps people either permanently institutionalized, or
at home with their loving families. My 17-year-old sister, Brandy, suffered a
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from a severe car accident in September of 2018.
Since then, the state of New Jersey has authorized 16 hours of specialized
nursing care per day for Brandy. This care allows her to stay safe at home, and
allows my father, mother, and I to lead proactive, fulfilling lives outside the
home. However, Brandy rarely receives all of her authorized hours due to New
Jersey’s inequitable Medicaid reimbursement rates for their state-funded
Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program.
The severity of Brandy’s injuries left her incapable of
moving, eating and even breathing on her own. Nurses that work with her need to
be up-to-date on life-saving techniques such as tracheostomy care, respiratory
treatments, suctioning, monitoring vital signs, feeding tube care and feedings
and administering meditations. Additionally, Brandy must be readjusted every
two hours in order to combat her risk of skin breakdown and bedsores. This
regularly poses as an obstacle when nurses miss their scheduled shifts as this
task requires two people due to her size.
Like so many medically-complicated residents of New
Jersey, my sister is at risk of institutionalization and/or hospitalization
without the proper nursing care she requires. With potential caregivers
persuaded by competitive wages and less physically and mentally taxing
employment, eligible patients’ access to qualified healthcare professionals
diminishes. New Jersey’s legislators need to consider the plight of their most
vulnerable constituents and make the decision to increase Medicaid
reimbursement rates. An increase in New Jersey’s Medicaid reimbursement rates
would provide a second lease on life for Brandy and those like her, as well as
instill a sense of hope for their families whose only desire is to be able to
continue to care for their loved one in their own home.
-Michelle Lino, Absecon
About the NJ Blog Takeover: For the
next few weeks, Hearts for Home Care will be featuring posts authored by NJ
families affected by the state’s shortage of in-home nurses and home health
aides to showcase the need for increased funding for New Jersey’s Private Duty
Nursing (PDN) and Personal Care Assistant (PCA) programs. For more information
on how you can get involved and let your elected officials know why increased
in-home nursing availability is important to you, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The facts are clear: Home care is less expensive than
hospital or other institutional care. Plus, it enables medically complex
children and adults to remain at home amongst their loved ones. But because the
State of South Carolina has not increased reimbursement rates for skilled
nursing home care services since 2008, families are finding it increasingly
harder to access the skilled, high quality care that they need to stay as
independent as possible in their communities.
State funding for home care has not been increased in more
than a decade. At the same time, hospitals and other facilities have been
steadily able to increase wages. Even more so, nurses can make more in home
care in surrounding states. Now, home care providers find that they can compete
for less than a quarter of all the nurses available in South Carolina. When
agencies face such recruitment and retention struggles, home care recipients and
their families suffer.
When there are less home care nurses available, families
find that they experience missed shifts, which can not only create undue stress
and chaos as loved ones must miss work, lose out on sleep, and forego other necessary
activities—but it also puts the client in danger. For those who need skilled
nursing care, missed shifts can mean dangerous consequences, including trips to
the ER and unnecessary hospitalizations.
Even more so, many major home care providers have already
left South Carolina because of the low funding for home care. Stagnant rates
that are more than a decade old make keeping their doors open unsustainable. As
more and more agencies leave the state, the harder it is for families to access
care. Simply put, if the State does not take action to increase funding for
home care, South Carolina’s most medically complex and vulnerable families will
have few options for care.
South Carolina’s concerned families are making their voices
heard: They are reaching out to their legislators and media to share their
message: Increase funding for home health care so that families can access the
high quality, reliable care that they need to be where they want to be: At