COVID-19 Resources for Home Care & Hospice Agencies

To ensure members have access to information they can trust, the Alliance has put together a COVID-19 Resource Page, linking to federal, state, and other essential sources.

COVID-19

To ensure members have access to information they can trust, the Alliance has put together a COVID-19 Resource Page linking to federal, state, and other essential sources.

We’ll update it as new information becomes available.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Three More Agencies Earn Accreditation

Three more agencies earn accreditation from the Alliance, bringing the total of accredited agencies to 59.

HCA Accreditation Logo

Congratulations to Acti-Kare (Middleboro), Kind Senior Care (North Andover), and Northeast Clinical Services (Danvers) for achieving Home Care Alliance Accreditation!

There are currently 59 agencies that have earned accreditation by demonstrating their compliance with each of the 15 standards of our Accreditation Program.

Since Massachusetts does not license private pay home care agencies, the Alliance created a Home Care Agency Accreditation Program in 2010 to establish operational and quality standards equivalent to licensure in most other states.

The program includes fifteen standards relating to: Client rights, privacy, and complaint procedures; Protections against abuse; Fair employment practices; Caregiver background screening; Competency, training and supervision; Insurance coverage; and Compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Accreditation is only awarded to agencies that meet or exceed all fifteen standards.

The Accreditation Program allows agencies to demonstrate that they meet high standards of quality. It shows clients and families that they are protected because the agency directly employs its workers and carries workers’ compensation, liability insurance, and an employee dishonesty bond. Accreditation demonstrates that an agency’s caregivers receive background checks, screening, and proper training for their jobs. Accreditation also provides a competitive edge in the marketplace, contributes to securing new business, and enhances staff recruitment by showing a commitment to fair labor standards.

Accredited agencies can use the Alliance’s Accreditation Logo to show their commitment to quality on their websites, brochures, and stationery. The Alliance lists all accredited agencies on its website, gives them special designation in its print directories and in the online Find an Agency function.

Behavioral Adjustments Under Early PDGM

NAHC’s Bill Dombi replies to reports that patients across the country are being told they no longer qualify for certain Medicare services or that services have been cut or discontinued.

Kaiser Health News and other health care media outlets are reporting that patients across the country are being told they no longer qualify for certain Medicare home health services or that services have to be cut back or discontinued due to changes in Medicare scope of benefits.  On a call with state home care association executives this week, Bill Dombi, President of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice confirmed that they are hearing of such cases from patient advocacy groups, such as the Center for Medicare Advocacy.  If such behavior gives the industry “a reputation for putting bottom line ahead of patient care, it’s going to be bad long term for the home care industry,” said Dombi.

In terms of any shortcoming with the PDGM model, he said,  we want to be able to lay these at the feet of the model’s crafters at CMS, not having them come back at us for over adjusting behaviors even beyond what was built into the model. He further suggested that until proven otherwise it might be case of managers and field staff inaccurately translating direction from management as to what has changed. He suggested CMS might need to do some more education around what has changed (payment) and what has not (coverage).

NAHC will present a series of six new webinars – free to members and non-members – on PDGM in Real Time featuring an open forum in which attendees can share and gain insights with Home Care & Hospice Financial Managers Association (HHFMA) experts about what is working and not working in the early weeks of PDGM.

These webinars are designed to enable home health agencies to achieve “high performer” status through continuous operational improvements in financial, clinical, business analytics, and administrative operations as PDGM unfolds.

The schedule for the Wednesday webinars at 1 PM ET is as follows:

  1. February 12 at 1:00 PM ET Info Tech/EMR readiness
  2. February 19 at 1:00 PM ET PDGM coding
  3. February 26 at 1:00 PM ET PDGM cash flow & LUPAs
  4. March 4 at 1:00 PM ET Therapy in PDGM
  5. March 11 at 1:00 PM ET Clinical management of patient episode
  6. March 18 at 1:00 PM ET PDGM data analytics

Registration information can be found here.

Announcing our “Home, Not Alone” Speakers Bureau Campaign

The Alliance’s Home Care Speakers Bureau can bring presentations on careers and other subjects to nursing schools, job fairs, or student assemblies.

Health care is moving out of the institutional setting and into people’s homes. Nursing and other allied health professional positions are following a similar path as the percentage of nurses moving into work a in hospital setting continues to decrease annually. Yet, newly graduated nurses often leave school not having been exposed to the nursing opportunities and high degree of complexity and independence in home health care practice.

Our Home, Not Alone campaign seeks to drive interest in, and confidence about, making a nursing career in home care or hospice.

Our dedicated speakers will bring presentations on careers and other subjects to nursing schools, job fairs, or student assemblies. Here is just a snippet of a presentation:

For more information about the program, visit the Home Care Speakers Bureau on our website.

Star Awards Shine Spotlight on Home Care’s Best

Last month, the Alliance recognized six outstanding individuals as our 2019 Home Care Stars. These are their stories.

Last month, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts gathered the industry at Granite Links in Quincy to honor six amazing individuals who represent the best of home care.

(L-R: Nicole Geddes, Me McBride, Vinette Tyme, Gerry Sanderson, Robin Pelletier, Sandy Hurley)

Since 1989, this fantastic event has celebrated the hard work of individuals and organizations who exemplify home care’s best values. More importantly, awardees are nominated by their colleagues and supervisors; winners are then selected by the Alliance’s Membership Committee.

Here’s a look at this year’s awardees, with excerpts from their nominations:

Me McBride, South Shore VNA, Aide of the Year

Imagine being the family member of a once-strong, determined man whose mind has been crippled by Alzheimer’s. You pray for help, and your prayers are answered in the form of an “earthly angel” named Me McBride.

She enters your home and takes charge with compassion and experience but — most of all — with respect for your loved one. For Me, the patient always comes first.

Vinette Tyme, HouseWorks, Aide of the Year

Vinette is a passionate home health aide, often described by colleagues and clients alike as “a dream” to work with, due to her dedication and exceptional skillset. She has an innate ability to anticipate clients’ needs and form personalized and effective strategies that work for them.

No task is too big or too small for her.

Gerry Sanderson, RN CDP, NVNA and Hospice, Clinician of the Year
Gerry Sanderson, RN CDP

Gerry has cared for hundreds of patients and families in the South Shore and her devotion to her patients is second to none.

Her approachable and positive demeanor is reflected in the way her patients interact with her, creating a safe and nurturing environment for all involved.

Nicole Geddes, LPN, Aberdeen Home Care, Clinician of the Year

Nicole delivers care, no matter what. If there is a need, she is there. She’s a roll-up-your-sleeves nurse, willing to jump-in and help an aide when needed or to manage a crisis in the middle of the night, on a weekend, or on Christmas Day.

She knows what to do and does it with tremendous skill.

Robin Pelletier, RN BSN, Southcoast VNA, Manager of the Year

Robin has successfully led Southcoast VNA’s Supportive Care Center since October 2016, where she guides an interdisciplinary team of 75 people. Her greatest accomplishment has been the extraordinary growth and quality of hospice services, doubling Southcoast’s average daily census and average length of stay.

Sandy Hurley, Commonwealth Clinical Services, Home Care Champion

Sandy embodies everything we value about nursing in the community. She is best known for “doing what needs to be done” from home visits, to setting up clinics, to teaching high school students about healthcare, to playing the piano at just about any function.

This year, Sandy extended her professional talents and skills to the mountains of the Dominican Republic, helping provide over 100 patients a day with health assessments, medications, and critical supplies.

As 2019 comes to a close and the industry prepares for a historic year of changes, the Star Awards allows us to pause and remember the dedicated workforce that makes home care such a success.

Congratulations and thank you to the 2019 Star Award Winners.

The Alliance Revamps Its Advocacy Action Center

The Alliance’s redesigned Advocacy Action Center makes it easier for members to communicate with their elected officials on the pressing issues facing their agencies.

HCA CapitolFor the first time in many years, the Alliance has redesigned its Advocacy Action Center website, offering members an enhanced advocacy experience so they can easily communicate with their elected officials on the pressing issues facing their agencies. This  post will highlight some of the key changes so that you are prepared to take action and make a difference!

Main-Page Scrolling Advocacy Feature

The main Advocacy Action Center page now features a scrolling banner of key advocacy initiatives that the Alliance and its members are working on. The banner has a functioning link which you can click on to bring you directly to the action center to quickly send an email to your elected official.

Main-Page Buttons

Under the scrolling banner, you will see three buttons linking to sub-pages. This organizes the Advocacy Action Center into three easily accessible topics: Legislative Priorities, Testimony/Comments, and Facts & Figures. Note: The Facts & Figures sub-page is currently being updated.

Legislative Priorities Sub-Page

Among the biggest of changes, is our newly designed Legislative Priorities page. For the first time, members now have a centralized landing page which organizes all of the Alliance’s legislative priorities in one place. You’ll see the page is split in half, organized by State and Federal priorities.

You’ll also see that each legislative issue has a brief overview of the issue and the solution that HCA supports. Underneath each blurb are links to download the fact sheets for, or take action on, the issue!

We hope that you will find our new advocacy center easier to use so that you can engage with your elected officials, while focusing on running your agency!

Report on the Massachusetts Serious Illness Coalition

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:

  1. 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.

2. The Coalition’s public message research and draft public facing marketing approaches.

Commendable progress!

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.