In home care, we see how debilitating loneliness can be to patients and clients. One local organization, FriendshipWorks, is looking to light candles in the darkness of social isolation.
So much of what we are about in home care is connecting those who might otherwise go without it to the care they need. Every home care nurse, therapist, or aide has been in a home where she/he might be the only person that patient/client has seen in days. We see loneliness, and we see how debilitating it can be.
Many studies have proven what a home care nurse knows from first-hand observation: Loneliness can be bad for someone’s health. On a national level, AARP has recognized what its medical director, Dr. Charlotte Yeh, calls the “power and presence of loneliness” in its Connect2Affect campaign.
Through some of our home care colleagues, I have recently been introduced to one local organization looking to light candles in the darkness of social isolation. For 35 years, FriendshipWorks has been training volunteers to provide companionship and emotional support to older adults across Greater Boston. They provide what more than one study has called “The Healing Power of Presence.”
Considering how the organization’s volunteers accompany their older friends to critical medical appointments, FriendshipWorks is a vital resource for many of Boston’s academic medical centers.
Matt Fishman, Vice President for Community Health at Partners HealthCare, sees the difference FriendshipWorks volunteers make. “While it may be less quantifiable than some of our other metrics impacting patient outcomes and healing, we can see the reduced anxiety associated with having someone to take you and be there with you for a medical appointment, especially when you might be receiving a difficult diagnosis or set of instructions,” Matt says. That a less-anxious patient is definitely a patient more able to engage and have a quality experience, is central to the work of Christine Dempsey in “The Antidote to Suffering.”
Experienced home care executives, Andrea Cohen, Founder and CEO of HouseWorks, and Denise McQuaide, President and COO of Benchmark Wellness Management (formerly, president of Care Group Parmenter Home Care & Hospice), are co-hosting a 35th anniversary event on Nov. 21 to support FriendshipWorks. If you would like to get on board this important cause and enjoy the great entertainer Darlene Love in an intimate setting, you can get all the info you need here.
Any ideas or experiences about the interest of loneliness and health and healing, send them along to me. Happy to continue to share.
At the most recent HCA of MA Board of Directors meeting, Scott Cluett, Director of the DPH Office of Emergency Medical Services provided an update on the role out of Mobile Integrated Health and Community EMS in MA. Both programs were created by a 2015 act of the MA legislature, following a trend in many states to use EMS personnel to deliver care outside of the emergency transport role. Applications for MIH programs were released in December 2018, with a few coming online mid 2019. MIH programs must, in their applications: “identify and validate one or more gaps in service delivery using data and a corresponding community health needs assessment. Each application must also describe how the proposed MIH program will address identified gaps in service delivery and provide improvements in quality, access, and cost effectiveness, an increase in patient satisfaction, improvement in patients’ quality of life, and an increase in interventions that promote health equity, including cultural and linguistic competencies…”Coordination of care is explicitly required with MIH applicants either having named health care partners or a plan for primary care coordination.
Community EMS programs must be founded in partnership with a local municipality and focus on prevention if illness or injury. So far 11 cities and towns have launched programs with the most common services offered being fire burn prevention and education, home safety evaluations, sharps awareness (and at least in one community sharps disposal) and naloxone training.
The change in state law that allows EMS personnel to treat in lieu of transfer is just beginning to be understood. How it may be incorporated into home care and hospice patient care management remains to be seen. Cluett’s short presentation, along with the pertinent regulations, can be found here.
Celebrate Home Care Month by nominating your best and brightest staff members for the Innovation and Star Awards!
Join us during Home Care Month for the
Alliance’s annual celebration of innovation and excellence which will return to
the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy on November 19, 2019.
Nominate your innovative programs and star
employees to be recognized during this celebration of the BEST in home care in
The Innovations Awards recognize programs,
products, or operational changes that enhance the quality or outcomes of
patient care, improve community well-being; drive efficiency in operations
within the agency or the health care system; or enhance staff productivity or
The Star Awards celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of the everyday heroes in our midst who make incredible differences in the lives of their patients/clients and their families. A STAR award brings well-deserved recognition for both the agency and the individual.
The MA Serious Illness Coalition pushes to bring awareness and focus on end-of-life issues.
“It is my goal that every nursing school in MA embrace that a nursing student must see a dying patient with the same fervor that they embrace that every nurse must see a baby being born.”
— Susan Lysaght Hurley, PhD, RN
Director of Research, Care Dimensions, Inc
Last week, the Massachusetts Serious Illness Coalition hosted its annual meeting welcoming more than 100 attendees to the JFK Library in Boston. The message from the Coalition’s leadership – as articulated by Blue Cross Blue Shield MA President and CEO – is that “the momentum is building.” From the Coalition’s beginnings less than five years ago, Dreyfus has focused on a long-term strategy to achieve the Coalition’s six goals. These include the ideas that everyone in Massachusetts 18 years or older has a designated health care decision-maker and that all Massachusetts clinicians have appropriate training to communicate comfortably with patients around advanced care planning and serious illness. Dreyfus has likened the work to that done in years past on smoking and on car seats, where steady force and public messaging achieved near-universal changes in public thinking.
The progress on clinician education – from a provider association perspective – is perhaps the most engaging and encouraging news. Dr Atul Gwande, as eloquent as ever, declared that the work to date has shown that: “People have priorities in life beyond just surviving, but you must ask them. Suffering happens when care doesn’t match our priorities.”
In addition to a public education campaign about engaging in advanced care planning conversations, Dr. Gwande announced that the Coalition is in talks with all four Massachusetts medical schools about a cooperative effort to require training of med students in serious illness communication as a graduation requirement.
But it was Dr, Hurley’s remarks that struck home for the home health and hospice agencies in the Coalition. In addition to the above comment, Dr. Hurley spoke of being a young nurse “totally unprepared as to how to talk to the dying.” Along with her subcommittee co-chair Anne Marie Barron of Simmons College, she is working on recommendations on core competencies for nursing education related to serious illness care. These are to be presented in the near future to the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing. What a great achievement that would be!
For those following the Coalition’s work, these may also be of interest:
End Games, an Academy Award-nominated short documentary on hospice and palliative care executive produced by Shoshana Ungerleider, MD. It premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and was acquired by Netflix.
Last year, the state of Massachusetts’ Palliative Care Work Group commissioned the JSI Research & Training Institute to conduct a statewide and regional assessment on palliative care. In addition to reviewing the quality of palliative care in various settings, the report examined both accessibility and the factors that affect it. The work group, which is housed in MA Department of Public Health’s Comprehensive Cancer and Prevention Control Network, recently published the report. It examines availability of various models of care (e.g., hospital vs community-based), and the intersection of access and reimbursement, as well as public misconceptions and the need for more education. The report looks at access to care on a regional basis and includes an interactive map of identified palliative care services.
HCA of MA has also identified distinct palliative care programs on our consumer pages. Our online directory now includes a specific category for palliative care, and lists a total of eleven agencies that responded with information about palliative care to our recent survey.
As this work progresses, the state’s Palliative Care Work Group is looking for additional members to help provide consistent messaging about palliative care across the state. The next Work Group meeting will be Thursday, October 19, 2017, 11 AM – 1 PM at the American Cancer Society in Framingham.
To celebrate November as National Home Care Month, the Home Care Alliance wants to put your picture up in the MA Statehouse! So get out your iPhones and even — if you’d like — your selfie sticks, and send us a photograph of a day or a moment in your home care life! The photographs will hang the first week in November, and we hope they will tell in pictures a story of what you do every day across the entire Commonwealth to support those who are often invisible to elected officials and other parts of the health care system.
So get creative with it and let us show them what you do!