by Diane Jeffery, Executive Director of American Nurses Association – Massachusetts
In celebrating National Nurses Week (May 6-12), we are, of course, taking the time to appreciate and recognize the daily contribution that nurses make to improving patients’ lives, but we are also focused on improving and advancing nursing as a profession – this week, and every week.
The theme of 2016 National Nurses Week is “A Culture of Safety – It Starts with YOU!” With that in mind, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is asking nurses to take personal responsibility in helping make their workplaces safer to enhance patient care and nurses’ health and well-being. We invite home health agencies to visit NursingWorld.org to view resources on how you can celebrate and recognize your nurses.
We are also pleased to carry out that vision in our advocacy. At the national level, ANA supports the Home Health Planning Improvement Act, which would allow Advanced Practice Nurses – including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives – to sign home health plans of care and certify Medicare patients for the home health benefit.
While APRNs satisfy Medicaid’s face-to-face requirement needed before home health can be authorized, APRNs are prohibited from signing home health plans of care and certifying Medicare patients for the home health benefit. This creates unnecessary delays and places impediments between an individual and the in-home care that they prefer and medically deserve.
At the state level, ANA-Massachusetts has long been a supporter of An Act Relative to Home Health and Hospice Aides, better known to some as the “Nurse Delegation” bill. It would allow, but not mandate, that a nurse may delegate certain medication administration tasks to a trained and certified home health or hospice aide.
Massachusetts is behind 36 other states that allow some type of delegation. If we are to care for an aging population, reduce costs by strengthening healthcare in the home and create efficiencies in our healthcare workforce, we need to elevate nurses to practice at the top of their license and elevate the aides that are critical team members.