The Benefits of Caring for Patients at Home
When a friend told Dr. Warren Hebert about a home care agency that was looking for a director of nursing in the mid-1980s, he jumped at the opportunity. Wanting a role in nursing that would allow him to be at home on nights and weekends with his young family, Dr. Hebert likely didn’t realize that this job would set him on a path as an advocate and educator for home care options.
Currently the CEO of the Homecare Association of Louisiana, an assistant professor at Loyola University’s college of nursing, and an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows program, Dr. Hebert is passionate about the future of home health care. He has dedicated much of his professional career to sharing and educating with nursing students and professionals about the unique and professionally fulfilling opportunities that lie in the home care field.
Dr. Hebert explains that in an acute setting, hospital personnel have historically been trained to focus on medical priorities – the diagnosis and treatment of health care. Home care, on the other hand, seeks to assess the health and social situation of an older adult by allowing caregivers and nurses to meet people where they live, crossing into the sacred threshold of their home, and building a mutual trust.
According to Dr. Hebert, caring for patients at home can be more effective because it allows caregivers and nurses to assess the social supports and services of each neighborhood, identifying any gaps in care. The home care professional also learns about and interacts with the older adult’s family and friends, a rich resource of information to better understand an individual’s personality and preferences.
Transcultural nursing theory is of particular interest for Dr. Hebert, and an emphasis in his teaching of nursing students. Pioneered by Madeline Leininger, transcultural nursing is nursing with a primary focus on care that is culturally sensitive and inclusive.
Teaching nursing students to understand and account for culture in the course of care can provide important context, according to Dr. Hebert. How does a particular culture view wellness? Illness? Death? For example, on a trip to India in 2014, Dr. Herbert visited a nursing home and came to understand that since meditation and the handling of suffering are parts of their life journey, for the most part the patients did not elect to receive pain-relieving or sedation medications.
Dr. Hebert also points to how understanding the demographics and epidemiology of a particular community can bring insight into how to care for older adults. Is there a particular health condition that is prominent in an area? Do regional dietary preferences or lifestyle choices contribute to the health outlook? Each of these factors can be assessed to provide a richer, more robust, and ultimately more effective care plan for older adults.
Historically, the fee for service model has driven healthcare. This, however, is changing. The focus in the healthcare industry has shifted to prioritizing outcomes and helping people live with, and manage, chronic illnesses. The home care industry is in a unique position to help deliver outcome-driven care to older adults in their homes.
For Dr. Hebert, teaching home care to nursing students is about the broader aspect of teaching them to understand what an individual’s life has been like in a particular community setting, asking them to reflect on the different aspects of care, and the importance of empathy, compassion, and competency. Integrating these considerations into in their work and into the home caregiving model helps establish a unique environment where both the home care professional and the older adult benefits.
Listen to the full interview with Warren Hebert in the Help Choose Home podcast series by searching for “Help Choose Home” on iTunes, Google, or on any device at https://player.fm/series/help-choose-home.
The Help Choose Home podcast series is a joint effort between the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), Axxess, and corecubed. The vision is toprovides information and resources to help those with a care need learn more about healthcare at home. Podcasts are hosted by Merrily Orsini, president and CEO of corecubed, a firm dedicated exclusively to helping home health care agencies in marketing to seniors.