Here we are again. It’s the Holidays. For some of us, at least. Many of you are still making visits or are on call for the holidays. That’s the life of a nurse or a therapist.
It’s the time of the year for giving and you have mastered that art. When you have no more to give, you find a way when a patient needs you. You listen to the lonely wishing you could do more; not realizing that you are so valuable that you are so valuable that just listening brings comfort and joy. Yet, your children and own family get just as much of you. There will be a time when what you remember most about these times is pure exhaustion and well, happiness.
You bring relief to those in pain using your education, experience and heart. Sometimes, pain is relieved simply by medicating your patient. Other times, you understand that even a hangnail can cause catastrophic pain when your patient’s family members have better things to do than visit over the holidays. You hear the sadness of an elderly patient who has lost his or her spouse and their absence is felt deeply during the holidays. You know that Advil doesn’t relieve ten out of ten pain but the extra visit to evaluate the effectiveness of the medication will.
You intuitively know when a patient is trying to spare you the burden of working on the holiday by minimizing symptoms. They are a little less talkative on the phone or are in bed ‘just resting up for church’ in the afternoon when they are usually up and active. Their color is off and maybe you can’t put your finger on exactly what is wrong but you know it’s there and so you go looking. And just like that a patient avoids a trip to the hospital for an exacerbation of congestive heart failure.
Maybe because there are fewer jobs and more home health aides available for hire, we overlook the value of those aides who have made a career of taking care of the personal needs of our patients. Obviously they bring comfort and ease loneliness, as nurses and therapists do, but they also preserve the dignity of our elderly patients. They are ‘presentable’ when family comes to visit or when they have a physician’s appointment. Patients who were previously known as strong and agile are up in a chair and do not have to have visitors help them get up and ambulate.
During the first part of 2019, there will be changes in the OASIS dataset and payment in the current PPS system. Later in 2019, we’ll be struggling to learn a new payment system. These are critically important to our future but never forget that it is you bringing value to home health and hospice.
And to you I wish a Joyous Christmas and the best year ever in 2019.