Home Services Help Patients Maintain Independence and Comfort
What is home health?
Kristen: We come to their home so they don't need to leave to go have these services. They don't have to go out when it's cold outside or COVID or anything. We're right there. We just come and deliver the care that they need to them. And I think they enjoy that and I know they do, because they tell us that all the time. Usually, they're happy to see us come and they're sad when we discharge them.
What is the goal of home health?
Shelly: We do everything we can to keep them at their house. So whether you can max out their services or give them as little as they want, you're still trying to keep them from getting into a facility where they know that they probably aren't gonna be able to come home again, you know. And so, that's pretty important for everybody is to stay as independent as they can.
Kyla: Of course, home is where everyone's most comfortable. Our job is really to try and keep them out of the hospital, providing an extra set of eyes and ears on them while they are going through an illness.
What services does home health and hospice provide?
Kristen: Home health can be a variety of things. We see people in the home setting, could be after surgery recovering from surgery, could be infusions, wound care, medication management, assessments. We do a lot of a variety of different things with them. And on the hospice side, we care for patients that are in the end of life process.
Karla: We're all working together as a team providing the best quality service that we can. And we're in good communication with the doctor and family and just trying to help people obtain the goals that they have for themselves.
What is the difference between home health, HEARTH and hospice?
Kyla: HEARTH is a maintenance program that patients really can be on for an extended period of time. And then home health is often after an acute illness people are needing skilled services in their most often home setting, typically after hospitalization, or after a patient has been in the clinic, and their doctor thinks they need extra set of eyes and ears at home. And then hospice is often for patients who have a chronic illness and they want to now focus on comfort rather than curative. We often focus on the quality of life and making them feel good and be comfortable versus the quantity or days that they have left.
What do you love about your job as a home health nurse?
Kyla: I really love my job. I love going into the home setting of people. It's really where they're comfortable. And so our job is to make sure they're extra comfortable in their home. And it's more than just a patient. Our job is to go in and meet them, not as a patient, but really on a somewhat of a personal level in their own home setting.
How does home health help families and caregivers?
Lynette: We get to give the caregivers breaks. You know, especially with the hospice, they need a break so sometimes they can go run errands when we're there. And we, like, help teach them different things, how to make tasks easier.
What do you say if someone is nervous about having a nurse in their home?
Shelly: We see everything. Nothing can really surprise us. And the goal isn't for me to come in and be the medication police, I just need to be the eyeballs to tell your doctor that five out of the seven days they miss their pills, don't continue to increase a pill, because this is what they're doing. And so that's huge.
How do you help transition patients between different care levels?
Kyla: When we see them on home health, they realize it's not so bad to get people into their home. And then once you develop that good trusting relationship, you can sometimes move them onto the next stages of their life and help them transition to hospice and make that adjustment a little bit easier. Because they realize that having a nurse come into their home isn't so bad.
What are common misconceptions about hospice?
Kyla: Often the word hospice has a bad rapport. People think that that means that they're gonna die tomorrow, and often that's really not the case. And if people would just look past the word hospice and realize how much benefit they would get and how much help they would be able to receive through this service... So many people in today's culture really scared to die. And so our job is just to really guide them towards acceptance and how to move forward and enjoying and feeling good the last days, weeks, months of their life. I'm a huge advocate in getting them to hospice before it's too late, because we see it more often. We see people go on hospice when it's too late versus too soon.
How do you help family members accept a difficult diagnosis?
Kyla: Getting patients to accept and understand their illness sometimes is difficult. It's sometimes more difficult even to get their family members to accept death or dying or that they're gonna be losing their loved ones. Of course, as family, we are all selfish and want our loved ones to live forever. And so as family, we often have a harder time accepting that our loved ones are quite ill, and need comfort measures or what we call hospice care. And so I would say a large majority of our job is educating families on how we can help make their loved one more comfortable, how we can help their loved ones have better days, have more days of feeling good versus feeling bad. And whether it's feeling good for 5 days versus feeling bad for 30 days, you know, most patients once they get near the end of the life, they really just want to feel good and enjoy their last few days versus feel ill and have a lot of pain.
What sets Brookings Health System apart?
Kristen: I think the teamwork that we have, we really do have a great team. In home health, we have the nurses, we have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and aides, and we all work together. In coming up with a plan of care for a patient, we discuss them. We communicate with each other as to what the best plan of care is so we can all work for the same goal.