A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Visiting Nurse Association of America (VNAA) annual conference. The meeting was held in Miami, FL, which made it local for me, so I decided to attend to catch up with what was happening in the post-acute sector of our healthcare system. I am glad I did, as it opened my eyes to one of the most dynamic and growing sectors of the industry.
At the end of the session, everyone was given the book; When Breath Becomes Air through a sponsorship from MEDALOGIX. At the cocktail reception that followed, we were able to have the book autographed by Lucy Kalanithi as a special gift.
As I listened to the various speakers, I began to realize that the home care industry has the potential to lead the rest of the industry as it strives to understand how to create a culture that values person-centered care. This is because the professionals who work in home care meet the patient where they are in the home. Home health care professionals; nurses, aides, companions, therapist and physicians all go into a person’s home and work with what they have – regardless of how much or how little. They meet the patient and their caregivers in their home and try to determine what they know, what they need to know and provide tips that allow them to manage a multitude of conditions. They also work to ensure the patient and families have the tools and resources needed to care for themselves effectively. Home care providers provide education, support, and empathy to each patient they meet and many times are the lifeline for both the patient and the caregiver.
I also realized how important it is to have a coordinated plan of care and excellent communication skills to assist the patient transitions from one setting to another. They work with the acute care team as well as other post-acute providers to maintain continuity and ensure each patient is safe.
Today’s home health care workforce, like the rest of the industry, is under tremendous pressure to be efficient, effective and cost conscious. They also are under regulatory pressures to complete forms, develop plans of care and address issues that vary from patient to patient. To be effective, organizations are looking to develop specific competencies that ensure care is person-centered and focused on:
Identifying the patient’s values, needs, and preferences
In addition to the various sessions, the exhibit hall showcased over 70 vendors unique to the home care and hospice industry. Vendors brought their tools, their supplies, and technologies that are helping agencies to be smarter, faster and more efficient.
There was a wealth of information to be gained from talking to the various vendors and a sense of community was evident as I met vendors and attendees. I really got the feeling that all knew they were partners and that by working together they would get through these challenging times.
VNAA also had a great application that all attendees could download to their smartphone that let them review the various vendors and what the products and services they provided. Participants could make notes to follow-up after the meeting with those they wanted to learn more about or explore their websites to learn about their services and products if they missed them in the hall.
The app also had the entire agenda listed so attendees could mark sessions they wanted to attend. They could also review the speaker’s bios and contact information as well as their slides. It was very convent and user-friendly. The app had a place to keep notes on the sessions/exhibitors for future reference and provided the ability to tweet or send a post to Facebook if you wanted to share information on social media about the sessions, the speakers, trends or issues that was important. I used this feature a lot during the day and found it very convenient.
On Day three, VNAA held an awards program to celebrate the unique qualities and contributions of home-based care providers. The winners were announced in the following categories:
Innovative Leadership Award: Geisinger Home Care: Survival Strategies for non-acute providers in a value-based contracting world.
Innovative New Model: Financial Award: Home Healthcare Hospice & Community Services: Unlock the keys to value-based care and alternative payments: clinical targets for care programming.
Innovative New Model: Clinical Award: Penn Care at Home: Rigorous focus on quality and patient safety will improve patient outcomes and ensure financial success.
Innovative Partnership Award: VNA of Kansas City: Impact of an In-Home Pharmacist Working in conjunction with nurses.
Innovative Program Design Award: Sutter Care at Home: Home Health Reimagined
Innovative Clinical Award: Use of Bordered Polymetric Membrane Dressing to Promote Patient Participation in their Own Wound Care in the Home Setting.
If you would like to reach out to any of these organizations, please email Taney Hamill, Senior VP at VNAA. Her email is [email protected].
I would like to thank the leadership at VNAA for allowing me to attend the Annual Conference. It was an important meeting and provided insights, information and innovative ideas that I and all who attended can use to understand better the changing landscape of our healthcare system as well as how all can improve operations and processes that will over time will improve the entire system.
Home care and the post-acute industry will continue to become a more and more valuable resource for each of us as well as our family and friends because we all want to be in our homes as much as possible. Having a reliable home care and post-acute network allows for this to happen.
It is not an easy time working through the disruption taking place today. But with organizations like VNAA providing support and resources professionals and organizations are showing progress as they work through the process.
Thanks for reading this issue of Nurse Advocate and if you have attended an interesting conference please feel free to share what you learned in the comment box below.
Have a good week!
Here are some resources that you might want to check out as they will provide insights into how YOU can help as the healthcare industry continue to move toward a patient and family centered care system.
Blueprint for Excellence: Pathways to Excellence: The VNAA Blueprint for Excellence is a quality improvement and workforce training resource for home health, hospice and palliative care providers. It advances the use of best practices by gathering into one virtual location curriculum and training tools, as well as the relevant research supporting those tools. The VNAA Blueprint and its best practices demonstrate the value of home health, hospice and palliative care–both in lowering the overall cost of care and in improving health outcomes.
Healthcare Professional Education: A Bridge to Quality: Institute for Medicine. The Institute of Medicine study Crossing the Quality Chasm (2001) recommended that an interdisciplinary summit be held to further reform of health professions education in order to enhance quality and patient safety. Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality is the follow up to that summit, held in June 2002, where 150 participants across disciplines and occupations developed ideas about how to integrate a core set of competencies into health professions education.
Being Mortal: Medicine and what Matters, in the End, Atul Gawande, MD, MPH