Posts By: Abigail Storiale

#GivingTuesday event Dec. 3

Click here to register for our event.  Click here to make a donation!

Help us warm up the giving season

What if the whole world came together one day a year to make a difference? What would you want to make possible?

The staff, board members and volunteers of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice want to help every person in the communities we serve to stay out of the hospital and at home, where they want to be, while facing a healthcare crisis. Whether someone is recovering from illness or surgery, living with a chronic condition, or facing the end of their life, we want to be beside them each step of the way. We want to be beside their loved ones and caregivers to offer support and resources. We want to provide wellness opportunities, education and advice to members of the community through clinics and classes.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we are the face of home healthcare and this #GivingTuesday we are asking for your help.

Now entering its eighth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and local nonprofit VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is excited to be part of the movement.

Celebrated nationwide on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday has become known as the day that launches the giving season.

Tickets are now available for VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s #GivingTuesday event, set for Dec. 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, located at 5 Indian Neck Ave.

Each $20 ticket to the event includes food catered by La Cuisine, a beer ticket, entertainment, a raffle and silent auction and the opportunity to network with fellow community members. The first 150 registered guests will receive a commemorative seasonal gift.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a nonprofit devoted to being beside home healthcare patients, their families and the community at every turn. Each year, the agency helps thousands of people remain at home through all stages of their healthcare journey, from beginning to end.

“All donations raised at the #GivingTuesday event will allow us to take this journey with the people we serve throughout New Haven and Middlesex Counties, and help them live life to the fullest,” said Janine Fay, President & CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “Help us warm up the giving season by giving to our effort to keep as many people as possible home for the holidays.”

Shore Publishing and Zip06 is proud to be the official Media Sponsor for this event. Other sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit bit.ly/VNAGivingSeason to register for the event, bit.ly/VNAGiveTues if you can’t attend but would like to give, or contact Abigail Storiale at 203.458.4277 or astoriale@vna-commh.org for sponsorship opportunities.

 

A huge thank you to the sponsors that have come on board!

Presenting sponsor:

 

 

Food generously donated by:

 

Gold sponsors:

           

 

                        

 

 

Supporting sponsors:

                           

 

                                        

 

                 

 

Printing sponsor:

 

Media sponsor:

Shore Publishing

Starting the hospice conversation

Tips for Caregivers

No one is ever fully prepared to have a conversation about death. It’s sad and difficult for loved ones of a person reaching the end-of-life as well as for that person’s physician who has been focused on helping that person recover or improve.

No one wants to hear, “There is nothing more that can be done,” and with hospice as an option that statement is never true. A cure might not be possible, but it’s important each individual faced with that reality know that there is still more life ahead.

The best thing for the people we love is for them to have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible – and when a cure is no longer possible, hospice is available to offer care and support.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer symptom management while also supporting the social and spiritual needs of people helping them to live their best possible lives in the time remaining.

The best way to broach the topic of hospice with a loved one is to put all the cards on the table and have an honest discussion about the person’s prognosis and the complications of their current condition, such as frequent ER visits and hospital stays, side effects of their illness or treatment such as infections, pain and shortness of breath, and the overall stress and fear they are feeling.

It’s important for a person considering hospice care to know what their options are and that they will not be alone. Focus on the following points:

  • There is not a cure for your condition, so let’s focus on the things we can control and that includes
    making sure you make the most of the time you have left
  • The hospice team will help you to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible for as
    long as possible so you can have the best possible quality of life
  • Because of hospice, you’ll have better control of your symptoms and be able to stay at home with us
  • Your doctor is still part of the team and we can reach out if we need him/her
  • You aren’t going to live as long as we all want, but we’ll be able to enjoy the time we have with you

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is happy to sit down with families and help them have this conversation or have it with their loved ones for them. No one should walk the end of life journey along, and we are proud to be here to support patients and their loved ones every step of the way.

We offer a Family Caregiver Support Network and a hospice program focused on quality of life. Although hospice is available to any terminally-ill patient, 90 percent of hospice patients are Medicare beneficiaries. We are happy to answer questions regarding eligibility and to help families understand how the Hospice Medicare Benefit works.

For more information call 866.474.5230 or visit our Hospice page.

Fight the flu

Colder weather comes with boots, sweaters, scarves and sniffles as cold and flu season arrives.

During this time of year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is reminding members of the community of the importance of getting an annual flu shot.

Influenza is a serious lung disease caused by a virus, which spreads from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache and sore throat.

Although many are only sick for a few days, thousands die each year. The virus can make anyone ill – most deaths are in people over age 50 and it is also particularly dangerous for young children. Serious complications, such as pneumonia can lead to hospitalization.

“The flu is a very real health risk. The best thing you can do to protect yourself, your children and the people around you – particularly those with compromised immune systems – is to get your flu shot,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotion Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “There are a lot of myths that exist surrounding the flu shot, but the reality is that it is a safe, effective way to reduce your risk of getting the flu and to help you recover more quickly if you do get sick.”

Everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu shot, particularly those with a chronic condition, caregivers of those at high-risk, students and those in institutional settings, residents of long-term care facilities and pregnant women.

Other important tips for flu prevention include regular hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough by coughing into your elbow, disinfecting surfaces in your home and workspace, and eating well along with drinking enough water.

The vaccine will prevent most strains of the flu and though it isn’t 100% effective as the virus changes frequently, it will decrease the severity of the illness if you do get the flu. The vaccine is developed yearly based on the strains expected to be most prevalent and it takes one to two weeks to take effect, but will protect you for several months.

There are vaccines specifically for those over age 65 designed to create a stronger immune response, so ask your doctor for more information.

The vaccine cannot cause the flu, but it will not prevent other illnesses you may contract around the time of receiving the vaccine, and it can cause some side effects – including temporary fever or aches – though most people have no reaction at all.

VNACHCH will host public flu clinics the following dates, times and locations:

Tuesday, Oct. 8
Woodbridge Center
4 Meetinghoue Lane Woodbridge
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 10
Miller Senior Center
2901 Dixwell Ave. Hamden
9 to noon

Friday, Oct. 11
St. George Church (in the Church Hall)
33 Whitfield St. Guilford
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 15
Joyce Budrow Senior Center
189 Pool Rd. North Haven
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 17
Madison Senior Center (in Library)
29 Bradley Rd. Madison
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Getting physical

Tips to overcome everyday aches and pains

The main goal of the wellness programming at VNA Community Healthcare
& Hospice is to keep you moving, but pain can sometimes get in the way. Estimates from the International Association for the Study of Pain suggest that one in five adults across the globe suffer from pain.

“Even those living healthy, active lifestyles can suffer from mild to moderate aches and pains that can impact daily life,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Therapy Kelli Filosa. “Pain also doesn’t discriminate. Although many find they struggle with it as part of the aging process, younger individuals can also face challenges.”

Pain can affect anyone, even people who have not been in an accident or suffered an injury while playing a sport or performing another physical activity. For example, lower back pain, which can be caused by sitting at a desk for long stretches of time, is the most common type of chronic pain in the United States. Such pain may be unavoidable, but that does not mean it and other types of everyday aches and pains cannot be overcome.

Begin a well-rounded exercise regimen

Regular exercise that includes both strength training and cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow and helps build a strong core.

A strong core supports the spine and reduces the pressure on it, making it less likely people who sit for long stretches at a time will end their days with lower back pain. Routine exercise also helps other areas of the body by keeping muscles loose and flexible. Before beginning a new exercise regimen, men and women, especially those with existing aches and pains, should consult their physicians about which exercises they should do and which they might want to avoid.

“Our home healthcare physical therapy clients most often require our services after a fall, injury or joint replacement, though they can also be beneficial if you have an ongoing medical condition that has gotten worse – such as chronic heart failure, breathing problems or diabetes,” Filosa explained. “We can also help those dealing with weakness or poor balance after a stroke or other medical event.”

She added, “Because we help those dealing with such a wide range of physical therapy needs, we are experts in exercise programs and even home modifications that can help you live safely and prevent an injury before one occurs.”

Filosa recommends walking as a tried and true method of cardiovascular exercise, as well as low impact classes such as the Yoga, Tai Chi or Sitercise classes offered by VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice to help with building core strength and improving balance.

Employ RICE

RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, can help men and women overcome the aches and pains that result as the body ages and tendons begin to lose some of their elasticity. RICE might be most helpful for people with tendinitis.

“It’s important to exercise regularly and to stay active after an injury, fall or joint replacement, only of course with the approval of your doctor and under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, but appropriate rest and care is also necessary,” Filosa explained. “A therapist can offer tips on what’s best for specific types of pain.”

Athletes over 40 who engage in activities that require repetitive motion might need to take more days off between rounds of golf or other competitive and/or repetitive activities.

Recognize your body may develop some limitations

Age should not prevent you from being physically active, and numerous studies have touted the benefits of continuing to exercise into your golden years. However, as the body ages, muscle fibers become less dense, resulting in a loss of flexibility that increases the risk of injury and/or soreness. As men and women grow older, they shouldn’t abandon activities like gardening or strength training, but they may need to scale back on the intensity of such activities. Doing so can prevent the kinds of muscle strains associated with aging.

To learn more about our therapy program, visit our page for Therapy Services.

Walking Tall

National Safety Month tips for staying confident on your feet

Anyone can have a slip.

Literally, staying on your feet is not always an easy thing, which is why during the month of June – recognized as National Safety Month – the National Safety Council is promoting education on the prevention of slips, trips and falls.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, falls are the leading cause of accidental injury for people age 55 and older, despite the fact that they are a preventable health problem. Individuals who have had changes in balance or a decline in physical mobility, those with a chronic illness or visual impairments, hearing deficits or foot problems, and those taking more than four prescription medications are at increased risk.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers Steady Steps, an award-winning fall risk reduction program, to help reduce the incidence and negative impacts of falls. Of our participants, 85 percent lower their risk of falls, improve balance and learn how to prevent falls from occurring.

The program, which is funded by a grant from and based on research by the experts from the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention and the Yale School of Medicine through the Department of Aging, is led by a team of nurses, physical therapists and certified instructors.

It includes screenings in the home or community setting, assessment of risks for falls and development of a personalized plan, assessment of home safety hazards, a balance assessment and blood pressure evaluation along with a medication review, and the teaching of simple balance exercises.

When it comes to avoiding falls, there are some simple steps everyone can take.

Dress for success

Cute shoes may be calling, but one of the most important things to do to prevent a fall is to wear the right footwear for your environment. Make sure to consider the conditions of where you’re headed and how much walking you’ll be doing when selecting shoes. Slip-resistant shoes can be helpful, but at a minimum make sure your shoes are broken in to reduce the slippery nature of the soles. You can do this by scuffing the soles on concrete before wearing them. Even around the house, make sure the soles of slippers are rough and don’t walk around on wood or tile floors in socks.

Hit the lights

Make sure when you are working or navigating a new environment that the lighting is appropriate, and take care when getting out of bed at night for a trip to the bathroom or kitchen. Adequate lighting helps you to see objects in your path and to avoid missteps that can lead to slips and falls.

Know your surroundings and announce yourself

We’ve all tried at some point to be a master of maneuvering – to sidestep through that tight space carrying something in our hands – but the best way to be safe is to be sure you have plenty of visibility and a path to move through while walking. It can also be helpful to announce yourself when in a shared or public space. Open doors slowly and tell others when you’re moving around them but are outside their line of sight, for example walking behind them.

Focus on fitness

Staying flexible and agile can help you to avoid falls, or minimize the impact if a fall takes place. As part of its Steady Steps program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers programs tailored to participant’s fitness and ability level including sitercize, Exercise for Better Balance and Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance®, all of which can help reduce the risk for falls.

For more information on dates and times of Steady Steps programming, visit vnacommunityhealthcare.org/calendar.

Managing Pain

How well do you understand Palliative Care?

September is Pain Management Month, a good time to consider how important pain management is in the lives of those living with a chronic illness.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer a palliative care program focused on quality of life that is beneficial for anyone suffering from side effects of curative treatments or simply those in need of pain or symptom management.

Common misconceptions about palliative care include that a person must be in the hospital to receive it or that pain and suffering is just part of a chronic illness.

Palliative care is aimed at controlling symptoms so patients are more comfortable and able to stay out of the hospital. It is helpful to those struggling to cope as an illness progresses and those suffering from a variety of causes of discomfort and pain.

Shortness of breath, the inability to move around freely, loss of appetite and nausea, confusion about one’s treatment plan or worry about the future, and a loss of interest in hobbies that comes with depression or frustration resulting from an illness are all things causes of discomfort and pain that palliative care can help improve.

Palliative care teams include registered nurses, home health aides, spiritual counselors, social workers and rehabilitation therapists.

Pain does not have to be accepted as part of chronic illness, nor is it always part of dying once an illness progresses. There are many ways pain can be managed. In addition to providing symptom control medically, our program can help lower stress on patients and families, which aids the process of getting pain under control.

Many confuse palliative care with hospice care, and believe that they must be dying or end their curative treatment to receive a palliative care referral.

Palliative care can be engaged at any point during an illness and is not the same as hospice care. Unlike with hospice services, patients receiving palliative care can continue curative treatments and do not need to be considered terminally ill.

Engaging palliative care does not mean you will die sooner, it simply means you will continue to live with the support of trained professionals who can help ensure you have the best quality of life possible.

Local nurse receives Nightingale Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Nurse Patty Tsou was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

 

Perhaps Patty Tsou was just destined to be a nurse.

Her mother was a registered nurse, as are her siblings. Despite the strong family ties, Tsou resisted the calling at first.

“I went to school to be a teacher, but I called my mom two years in and said I wanted to switch to nursing. She cried and said, ‘You were the one I always knew would be a nurse,’” Tsou recalled.

Now, more than three decades later, the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice RN continues what became a true love affair with her profession. As a result, she was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

For the ceremony, she wore her Ona M. Wilcox College of Nursing pin alongside her mother’s St. Raphael School of Nursing Pin, just as she does every year on National Nurses Day.

“Every day I get to teach, just not kids,” Tsou said with a laugh, referencing her once potential field and the many skills she later found home health nursing requires. Not only do nurses provide clinical care, they also work to educate patients and their caregivers on self-care to manage chronic conditions and to otherwise help them recover from surgeries and illness.

“I see people in their environment. I’ve been to squalor and I’ve been to mansions, but at the end of the day [our patients] are all just people who need help,” she said.

During her career, Tsou has always been willing to go the extra mile. When she was assigned to Spanish-speaking patients, she learned the language on the job by carrying with her a pocket Spanish dictionary and eventually becoming fluent in what she termed “medical Spanish.”

“People appreciate the effort,” she said. “As a nurse, they’re always happy to see you, but even on my worst days, I still know they’ve made a difference.”

Tsou has been an employee of VNACHCH for 10 years.

According to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Nursing Karen Naccarato, Tsou has been described by her patients as a wonderful representation of VNACHCH who is “helpful, accommodating and a real comfort.”

Naccarato said Tsou goes above and beyond for her work, whether it’s serving as a preceptor to new employees, participating in new projects or allowing students to shadow her for the day.

“She truly exemplifies the qualities of excellence for the Florence Nightingale Award,” Naccarato said. “Patty brings forth much home care experience, professionalism, compassion and kindness when caring for her patients.”

The Nightingale Awards program was developed in 2001 to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. The program honors nurses from all health care settings and all Registered Nurses and LPNs involved in clinical practice, leadership or education may be considered.

Nurses can only be nominated once in their lifetime for the award. Nominations are made by the health care organization with which the nurse is affiliated. Award winners are selected based on criteria that examines what set the sets the nurse apart from others, how they impacted patient care and the profession, how they’ve shown commitment to the community and whether or not they’ve achieved a life-long legacy in a particular arena.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice honors community partners at annual breakfast

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Jo Ann Begley, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice President & CEO Janine Fay, Hospice volunteer Kathleen Bonvicini, Florence Griswold Museum Executive Director Rebekah Beaulieu and Florence Griswold Museum Director of Marketing Tammi Flynn.

 

When Kathleen Bonvicini lost her brother to cancer, she found a way to channel her grief and love for him into helping others.

“I saw how hospice helped my brother and I knew I would be a hospice volunteer one day,” Bonvicini told the crowd of more than 130 people gathered at The Woodwinds in Branford Tuesday, May 7 for VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s annual Breakfast in Bloom fundraiser.

Guilford Savings Bank and Smith Brothers Financial were the platinum sponsors of the event.

Bonvicini was one of three Community Partner Award recipients, along with the Florence Griswold Museum and VNACHCH’s own Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Jo Ann Begley.

“You’re thanking me, but I should be thanking all of you for allowing me to do this work,” Bonvicini said during her award acceptance speech.

An active philanthropist and community advocate, Kathleen is the Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Healthcare Communication.

“Kathleen is committed to giving and making our world a better place. With a full time career that involves travel and volunteering in other parts of the world, she still makes time to help our patients and their families. And, often uses her work day lunch break to do it,” explained Begley.

She noted one instance when a family of a hospice patient was struggling, and so Kathleen responded to a last minute request to sit with the patient and hold her hand into the night, allowing social work and spiritual care to focus support on the family.

She met with a patient weekly for meditation sessions, always bringing him his favorite ice cream, and helped a patient finish writing a book and submit it for publishing before he died, which was his wish.

“She embodies the true spirit and the intent of our hospice program, which is to help
individuals make the most of the time they have left,” Begley said.

The Florence Griswold Museum, located in Old Lyme, was recognized this year for collaborating with VNACHCH in support of its mission.

A nonprofit itself, museum officials graciously offered the site and its collections as the structural backbone for the agency’s annual report, which featured an artistic theme – one that was carried through to the event.

The museum and 12-acre site is known as the home of American Impressionism. It served as the birthplace of the Lyme Art Colony that flourished at the site in the early 1900s as artists from up and down the seaboard flocked there to paint the scenery.

VNACHCH brought caregivers, volunteers and staff members who provided testimonials for its 2018 annual report to the museum to select artwork that spoke to them of their idea of a life well lived. Images of them standing alongside their chosen pieces were used to highlight their thoughts in the report of how the agency has made a difference in their lives.

Florence Griswold Museum Director Rebekah Beaulieu and Director of Marketing Tammi Flynn attended the breakfast to accept the award.

Begley’s recognition was a surprise to her and the entire crowd at the event.

Like Bonvicini, she expressed gratitude to the people in the room for supporting VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice and allowing her to do the work she is dedicated to on behalf of patients and families.

VNACHCH President & CEO Janine Fay praised Begley for her efforts to help caregivers on their loved one’s healthcare journey so entire families can achieve their best quality of life.

“When we talk about community partners, we often mean members of the community who support our mission to be beside patients at every turn. This year, however, we also felt it important to recognize a member of our staff who serves as one of our links to the community itself and who has touched the lives of so many people in our service area,” Fay said. “She works tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of others and empowers our proud and gentle army of volunteers to go out into our patients’ homes and provide them with care and compassion to help them find comfort and joy through the difficult moments.”

Begley will celebrate 15 years with the agency this summer, and Fay noted that so many of the success stories shared by grateful patients and caregivers include Begley in the narrative.

“In a quiet and thoughtful way, she graciously tackles every need that comes across her desk and she devotes herself to ensuring every patient and caregiver receives every possible resource and service available, every time,” Fay said.

The breakfast included instrumental music by the group Giving Bach of Daniel Hand High School in Madison and a visit from one of VNACHCH’s therapy dogs.

All proceeds from the event will support the nonprofit agency’s vital services, including home healthcare, community wellness programs and its Family Caregiver Support Network.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency with expertly trained staff who help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.

Starting the Hospice conversation

No one is ever fully prepared to have a conversation about death. It’s sad and difficult for loved ones of a person reaching the end-of-life as well as for that person’s physician who has been focused on helping that person recover or improve.

No one wants to hear, “There is nothing more that can be done,” and with hospice as an option that statement is never true. A cure might not be possible, but it’s important each individual faced with that reality know that there is still more life ahead.

The best thing for the people we love is for them to have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible – and when a cure is no longer possible, hospice is available to offer care and support.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer symptom management while also supporting the social and spiritual needs of people helping them to live their best possible lives in the time remaining.

The best way to broach the topic of hospice with a loved one is to put all the cards on the table and have an honest discussion about the person’s prognosis and the complications of their current condition, such as frequent ER visits and hospital stays, side effects of their illness or treatment such as infections, pain and shortness of breath, and the overall stress and fear they are feeling.

It’s important for a person considering hospice care to know what their options are and that they will not be alone. Focus on the following points:

  • There is not a cure for your condition, so let’s focus on the things we can control and that includes
    making sure you make the most of the time you have left
  • The hospice team will help you to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible for as
    long as possible so you can have the best possible quality of life
  • Because of hospice, you’ll have better control of your symptoms and be able to stay at home with us
  • Your doctor is still part of the team and we can reach out if we need him/her
  • You aren’t going to live as long as we all want, but we’ll be able to enjoy the time we have with you

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is happy to sit down with families and help them have this conversation or have it with their loved ones for them. No one should walk the end of life journey along, and we are proud to be here to support patients and their loved ones every step of the way.

For more information call 866.474.5230 or visit our Hospice page.

It’s Not All In Your Head

Dispelling myths about mental wellness during National Mental Health Month

Many understand the importance of mental wellness and the concept of self-care to prevent mental or emotional struggles, but far fewer may realized the far-reaching impacts mental health problems have in the life of every individual. Although we may think of mental health as something that does not affect us if we do not suffer personally or currently, the issue of mental health is a prevalent one today.

One in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue – some of the most common including anxiety and depression – but perhaps surprisingly to some, one in 25 Americans has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. According to mentalhealth.gov, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 41,000 lives lost annually.

This May, recognized as National Mental Health Month, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice wants to dispel some myths of mental illness and treatment.

Myth: Recovery is not possible

The idea of recovery seems insurmountable to many when it comes to mental illness, but when looked at as the journey of yourself or a loved one reaching a point where a normal life – including the ability to work and be an active member of the community – is the goal, then recovery is indeed possible.

Through its Behavioral Home Health program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s registered nurses collaborate with patients, family member’s and a client’s entire treatment team to help each individual discern small, achievable goals to have success reaching their best potential quality of life.

VNACHCH staff is available for visits seven days a week, plus 24-hour phone coverage to help with things like medication administration, facilitating copying skills, offering coaching on preventing physical impacts of treatment and addressing side effects should they arise.

Individuals on medication for mental illness are prone to conditions such as diabetes due to rising blood sugar or cardiac complications, and the VNACHCH staff is trained in assessing and managing these side effects in coordination with a patient’s other health providers.

Myth: People can “get over” mental illness on their own

Mental illness is not a sign of a weak mind. Some individuals have a mental illness as a result of genetics or brain chemistry, while others have an illness triggered by physical conditions or injuries that impact the body. Traumatic life experiences also serve to bring on mental illness.

To reach a point of mental wellness, people require a variety of treatment, including medication and therapy as well as the support of loved ones.

The most helpful family caregivers are those who commit to serving as advocates to connect a loved one with needed services and those who understand their family member is not defined by their mental illness. Helping to remove the stigma of mental illness is a critical part of the process.

Myth: It’s not safe to be around someone with mental illness

Most people with a mental illness are not violent, though media coverage of isolated incidents can make it appear mentally ill people are always unpredictable and irrational. Many people with mental health problems are able to go about every-day lives with little to no outward indicators of their illness.

To learn more about our Behavioral Home Health program visit https://vnacommunityhealthcare.org/our-care-programs/behavioral-home-health/.