Enhancing Our Home Care Expertise
The word chronic, when applied to health care, most often means having a disease for a long time. Patients learn to deal with it, what treatments they need, and what medications to take. But there's one aspect of a chronic disease that Home Health United has begun to focus on: why. Why do patients need the treatments they are receiving? Why are they prescribed the medications they are taking? Today chronic, not acute, conditions are the biggest threats to public health; education is one piece of HHU's new effort to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.
Connie Jicha, HHU Nurse Case Manager, understands the value of answering these questions, as well as empowering her patients by teaching them about their chronic disease and providing them literature. "It's important for patients to understand why they're getting the treatments and how it affects their chronic disease, which allows them to have more input into their care plan," says Jicha.
Jicha, along with other HHU clinical staff, recently had a new opportunity to enhance the care of patients with chronic diseases and further her home care expertise. HHU has partnered with SSM Home Care in St. Louis to provide Chronic Disease Management training for nursing and therapy staff. After the training, staff are able to complete testing to obtain certification by the National Association of Home Care.
The goal of the program is to use the skills to support patients with chronic diseases which often result in re-admissions to hospitals. HHU staff will assist patients to self-manage their chronic illness, remain in their homes longer and prevent hospital re-admissions.
The training includes education on adult learning, health literacy and behavioral techniques to help patients set their own goals and boost their self-confidence in self-management of their chronic illness. Areas of focus are on diagnoses shown to have a strong relationship to hospital re-admissions including Congestive Heart Failure, Diabetes, Depression and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder.
One of Jicha's patients, Dorothy Wiganowsky of Madison, has diabetes and experienced the benefits of having a nurse with this additional training. Jicha used the training she received to teach her patient about diabetes using books and handouts, learning the benefits of managing her disease, and to set achievable goals, like cutting down on sugary snacks.
"This process allows the patient to make changes they want to make. They are more confident and comfortable in making their own decisions relating to their chronic disease," said Jicha. "With Dorothy, I suggested she cut her desserts in half, and she decided to eliminate them all together. She is empowered to make those kinds of decisions now."
Wiganowsky adds, "I've had diabetes for a long time, but this has taught me so many things. Cutting out the desserts helped control my restless leg syndrome."
There are 25 HHU staff members who have achieved the certification so far. Home Health United's goal is to have all clinicians trained in Chronic Disease Management and Health Coaching by the end of 2012, even though the state of Wisconsin doesn't require Registered Nurses to have continuing education to maintain licensure.
"This is a comprehensive disease management program approved by the Wisconsin Nurse Association and the American Nurses Credentialing Center in addition to being endorsed by the National Association of Home Health Care," said Lynne Willer, HHU Vice President of Care Services. "Home Health United Chronic Disease Management Health Coaches hope to lead the way with this innovative approach to care."
Rick Bourne, HHU President and CEO, adds: "We feel this adds tremendous value to the level of patient care we can provide. Investing in our employees and patients like this really sets HHU apart."