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.

The New ThinkHomeCare.org

The Alliance is extremely pleased to announce the first re-launch of its website in nearly five years.

Screenshot of the new design.

Design & Home Page Changes

  • A clean, responsive design that works both for desktop and mobile platforms;
  • Member sign-on available directly on the home page and many sub-pages; and
  • New red button highlights and a simplified navigation menu to direct members & non-members alike to topics of interest.

Function & Enhancements

  • A new Education Page with categories that that filter for the events you’re looking for;
  • An overhauled Association Store with better categories and clearer organization;
  • A brand-new Library of Recorded Webinars, some available for purchase (at reduced rates for members), some available at no charge;
  • A redesigned Find-an-Agency search helps families find services that meets their needs; and
  • A new, members-only page listing money-saving Group Purchase Programs available through the Alliance.

As with all websites, we’ll continue to make changes and enhancements over the coming weeks and months. If you have any problems or suggestions, please contact me at tmeyer@thinkhomecare.org.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

How CMS Stole Home Care Christmas!

Every person in Home Care liked caring a lot.
But the Grinches south of Baltimore, they surely did not!
The Grinches hated home care, delivered in any which way.
Now, please don’t ask why. No one knows what to say.

It could be CMS didn’t have a mom or a dad.
It could be their jobs were incredibly sad.
But, the most likely reason was this just this my dear,
Their hearts were hijacked by nasty old fear.

They feared the support, the need and the caring.
“It has to stop now,” they said, nostrils flaring!
“I hate all their teamwork! I despise all they do!
I’ll pick them all off, one-by-one, two-by-two!”

With a laugh and snort, they sneered, “I know just what to do!”
And put pen to paper to plot their evil, awful coup.
They threw it all at us, with the usual glee,
COPs, OASIS changes, and even VBP!
“I’ve ruined them now and forever, I swear,
Let’s see how you cope, how you can possibly still care!”

But across the Land of Home Care, they got down to work.
HCA had their back, a membership perk!
Every worker in home care, the small and the tall,
Still kept making visits, swearing once and for all:
“The families, they need us, and we will be there!
No Grinches in DC can stop us with fear.”

And what happened then? Well… in home they say,
Those Grinches’ hearts grew three sizes that day!
The true meaning of home care shined right on through.
They ripped up their papers, stopped pre-claim review.
“Maybe home care,” they said, “isn’t about regs, or rules.
Maybe home care is bigger, a national jewel!”

“Thank you, home care,” they said, now with a smile.
“For once, in your shoes, maybe I’ll walk a mile.
I’ll make a home visit, I’ll assist with a med.
I’ll listen to stories from clients in bed.”

“I’ve a new understanding why you do what you do.
Let’s make a new year that’s bright with a start that’s brand new!”

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Statement on Boston Globe Article: A Stranger in the House

Boston, MA – The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts issued the following statement in response to the two-part Boston Globe article titled “A Stranger in the House” printed September 16th and 17th:

The Home Care Alliance and its members have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to patient abuse. Over many years we have worked with the Department of Public Health, Elder Affairs and Health and Human services to address issues of elder abuse and billing fraud. Our members take very seriously the responsibility of ensuring the safety and quality of care being delivered to their clients.

These Boston Globe articles confusingly lump three different classes of workers together: personal care attendants employed directly by consumers in the PCA program, aides hired through a home care agency, and workers hired directly by consumers in the underground marketplace.

While the article cites 20 cases of agency-hired workers committing abhorrent crimes in ‘recent years,’ it fails to contextualize the fact that home care agencies have employed over 75,000 workers and delivered care to more than 600,000 elders in the past five years.

We have long advocated for the Commonwealth to develop a licensure process and we support state legislation (H.344) which we believe would enact baseline consumer protection standards for private pay home care agencies. We also advocated for recently enacted legislation to license certified home health agencies.

In failing to adequately explain the structure of the home care system in Massachusetts, readers are left confused and scared. At a time when aging-in-place is a statewide priority, we should be working on solutions that expand access to these services and protects consumers in the setting that they prefer: home.

About the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts:

With a mission to unite people and organizations to advance community health through care and services in the home, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is a non-profit trade association and advocacy group providing representation, education, communication, advocacy and – ultimately – a voice for the state’s home health industry. Founded in 1969, the Alliance has grown to represent more than 160 home care and home health agencies across the state. For more information, visit www.thinkhomecare.org.